The Request for Proposal (RFP)
Create a detailed, well-written RFP for meeting facilities or meeting services Including the objectives, audience make-up, and overall needs of a meeting helps the supplier to prepare a complete and accurate proposal without needing to continually contact the planner for information.
To begin, an RFP should provide all the required information, and not confuse or mislead the supplier in any way.
The most important aspect of a good RFP is the absolute need to include all of the required information. We complain when proposals do not meet our organizations’ requirements or fail to address all areas of concern. Yes we are partially at fault if full details have not been included.
The following areas should be covered in all RFPs, including those for meeting facilities, DMC services, exhibit contractors, audio-visual equipment, content capture and more:
- meeting name and dates;
- the full name of the organization;
- the contact person’s name, title, affiliation, address, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail address;
- a brief overview of the organization (its structure, mission, number of years in operation, membership, member demographics, etc.);
- a description of the meeting (including objectives, audience, and budget);
- the organization’s three-year meeting history (including cities, dates, attendance figures, headquarters hotels, room blocks, room pickups, ratios of singles to doubles, and peak night rooms); this allows the supplier to check history.
- a schedule of future meetings;
- information on the decision-making process, including a date for proposals to be returned and information on how and when the decision will be determined.
Create a template that you can update periodically and includes the above information
The add vendor specific information, bedrooms, room nights, meeting and exhibit space requirements, days, dates, times, functions, attendance projections, setups, special requests, square footage required, etc.
Make sure your AV supplier has your set up details and you facilities have your AV needs…In short you want to provide everything that provides bidding vendors with a clearer picture of the meeting.
Being detailed and thorough, is essential but avoid including unnecessary information. Excess data will only cause confusion.
Good RFPs will only be sent to destinations under serious consideration based on the organization and attendees need, objectives, budget, etc.
This attention to detail up front will save a lot of time and frustration for both you the planner and the supplier(s) under consideration
The Call For Proposal
A detailed request for proposal is essential if you want to successfully convey what you need to potential suppliers. They do not know your organization the way you do.
Good communication is the key!
Where do you get information?
- Contact the local Visitors and Convention Bureau. They can often do most of the leg work for you.
- Contact the national sales offices of hotel chains. They know about their properties all across the country and around the world. If there isn’t a national sales office, call the local office of a hotel chain and ask for a contact and referral or call the potential property/hotel directly.
- The internet is an excellent source for all kinds of information on destinations and the sites being considered.
- Books… there are some excellent resource books out there such as Convention Meetings Canada http://www.meetingscanada.com/buyers-guide/#
- Check your records – and check with members in the destination under consideration
Get information in writing
Ask for floor plans and meeting specs – capacities, pictures, promotional brochure (I prefer to receive this electronically, but paper still exists… even today). Floor plans should include:
- Portable walls
- Emergency exits
- Electrical outlets
- Square Footage/square meters
- Ceiling Height
Meeting Specs should include;
Ask for photos, brochures, check web sites to better get a full picture of what the potential facility(ies) have to offer
When developing a request for proposal, it is important that you be clear, concise and provide as much information as possible. The more detail you provide, the better information you should receive, which in turn helps you make an informed decision. Include:
- Name and type of meeting
- Length – days and nights
- Number of sleeping rooms (per night)
- Meeting space needs (by day)
- Food and beverage
- Special needs (exhibits – reg area, media room, etc)
- Support services
Responses will vary:
- What you are really looking for is a professional personalized written response that addresses each aspect of the RFP.
- What you may get could be anything from a generic sales letter and brochure to a full contact for the space.
- Once proposals are received you can systematically evaluate them based the criteria set out.