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Do you really need to send the RFP to 10 destinations?

By: Rachael Riggs, CMP | May 2, 2017

When developing a RFP, we discussed asking yourself the following five questions:

  1. What is the vision of the program and what are the goals of the meeting?
  2. What innovations do you want to bring to this meeting?
  3. Do you really need to consider 10 destinations?
  4. Do you send the RFP to both the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)/Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) and the hotel Global Sales Offices?
  5. Do you think you are providing too much detail?

We are now on topic #3.  In the previous, articles we talked about vision and goals of a meeting and sourcing for new innovations.   Now we are considering the destinations and where to send the RFP.

Do you really need to consider 10 destinations?

When I get an RFP with more than 5 or 10 different cities listed, the first question I ask myself is…why?   First, it is a lot of work to manage, gather and interpret for the planner.   Been there, done that.  You feel like you are swimming and you can not keep up with all of the supplier questions.  Second, I ask myself, “will we really be taken that serious in this bid process?”  I have discussed this with other suppliers and many think the same thing. 

When I worked in third party management and we obtained a new client, we were asked many times to find a location for a 500 – 2,000 person meeting that had not been booked yet one or two years out.   We would send an RFP to many locations in hopes that we would find someplace that would be ideal.  It would always work out as we had really strong relationships with our GSOs and DMOs. I learned the hard way that presenting too many options created an even bigger difference of opinion and no decision was made. We always said it didn’t have to be this way and would work with the client to be more strategic.  

What I found fascinating was guiding the volunteers/staff through the process.  Typically, the Board/Committee had no particular rotation plan or volunteers had differences of opinions of where the meeting should be held.  It was this way in the corporate world too when I was a Director of Meetings for a tech company.   

The most gratifying process was working with the decision makers to take them from panic mode to strategic mode.  After understanding the client comfort, we would work with decision makers to fine tune what they are looking for before the RFP goes out the door.  Everyone involved found the process much more manageable and saved everyone’s time.  

I always asked a few key questions to narrow down what they are looking for…

  • Where are the attendees coming from?
  • What is the typical attendee’s budget?
  • What is the group’s meeting budget?
  • What are their typical habits at the meeting? Foodies; work hard; play hard; research; physically active
  • Do you want a destination that people will opt for pre and post travel?

Next up….Do you copy the GSO and the DMO/CVB? See you next week.

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