Here are the elements you need to consider when putting together your RFP. By David Jewell, June 21, 2010
Define meeting objectives. The more you know about why you are holding your meeting, the greater your chance of success when determining how to hold it. That involves setting measurable targets regarding meeting goals. For example, if you are holding a user’s conference, you should be aware of how much increased usage of your product the conference will lead to (re: new business and extra business from existing clients). If you are having a sales kick-off , you should know where your sales revenues stand and where you want them to go, post-meeting. A conference with continuing medical education instruction should lead to greater certification among your organization’s professional members.
Determine meeting/budget requirements. This is key to receiving accurate proposals from hotels/venues. Include relevant taxes and gratuities.
Prioritize needs. This can be the toughest part of the process: from division heads who require you to use a specific hotel brand, to senior sales directors who refuse to share rooms, to entire teams who don’t want to fl y for five hours to get to the meeting, any number of issues can arise; accurately identifying stakeholders — and stakeholder wannabes — will go a long way toward easing this part of the process. When prioritizing, you’ll want to solicit feedback from your stakeholders and review past successes.
Research meeting history. It’s best to use earlier dates of the same meeting, but history on your company’s/ organization’s meetings of any kind will aid the hotel/venue significantly in getting you a solid proposal. You’ll want to prepare the details (include the location, hotel, dates, attendance, rate) for three prior meetings, and include with your RFP. If you don’t have this history, you can ask the prior year’s hotel/venue to help re-create some or all of it.
Create preliminary agenda. Don’t worry if this is a work in progress. The hotel/venue needs something to work from in order to allocate meeting space to you; a good leaping-off point can be last year’s agenda. Be sure to include approximate attendee counts for each segment of your programme.
List possible destination options. If your RFP is going to a global sales offi ce and requires multiple destinations, include cities that are be researched. The more detail you can provide, the be er. Also, list any needs or requirements for the destination. For example, flight times, number of transfers, maximum length of transfer time between the airport and the host hotel.
Make contact. Once the destinations have been short-listed, make contact with the convention and visitor’s bureau; they can be extremely helpful to your planning and research.
List possible venues. Compile a list of possible venues within destination(s) that will satisfy the group’s needs. Have all stakeholders weigh in on this matter. It saves time on subsequent and multiple circulations of the RFP.
— Guest columnist David Jewell is regional Vice President – Canada East for HelmsBriscoe, based in Toronto. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org