Finding a location and vendors is one of the most basic things planners do. But oftentimes, they forget to include essential information on their request for proposals (RFPs). Here’s a handy checklist of things to include along with some tips on making the most of the follow-up. Keep in mind that meeting suppliers will respond more quickly to a RFP if they know that they are only one of a handful being considered.
Basic information you need to include:
- Your name, title and contact information. Let them know what method of communication works best for you (i.e. phone, e-mail, etc.).
- Your company information, including Web site address.
- Dates, pattern and times for the event. Are these dates and times flexible? If so, let them know because it could save you money.
- Number of room nights needed.
- Food and beverage requirements. Include a specific timeline. Indicate whether or not times are flexible.
- Audio/visual requirements.
- Off/on-site requirements.
- ADA requirements.
- Your timeline for decision-making dates: Make sure vendors know when you need to hear back from them. Strictly adhere to all deadlines; your vendor will.
- If green or sustainable initiatives are important to you, you should include a question asking suppliers if they have eco-friendly initiatives in place, what they are and if they have any certifications (e.g., Green Seal, LEED, etc.), if they source their food locally, etc.
Information you should know that will help the vendor help you:
- Your budget, and where you do and do not have leeway.
- History of past events.
- The group’s pattern of attendance/attrition.
- What’s worked and what hasn’t; what can be improved; and your goals for this event.
- What they can expect from your group, and what your group expects.
- Any special needs or concerns that have occurred in the past.
- Concessions you are willing to make: Remember that being ethical and fostering long-term relationships are paramount. Make sure the concessions you ask for pertain to this meeting and it’s not just a set list.
- Billing/payment arrangements. Questions about money should pertain to what’s included in the RFP.
Do not send an RFP if:
- You have no intention of working with them.
- The property or vendor cannot meet your client’s needs.
- You are planning everything in-house and are using the RFP to shop for fresh ideas or tips.
- You are using the RFP as a tool to plan your budget.
What hotels and vendors need from you after they send proposals:
- Answers about what you want.
- Decisions and payments made by the set deadlines.
- Your honest critique of their proposal with the reasons they were or were not hired. If projects are not awarded to the lowest bidder, vendors need to know what your determining factors were.