Resources – February Update

Here is what we’ve added in February by category:

Marketing/Promotion

The Latest In Handheld Meeting Technology – “Please turn on your cell phones.” It might sound strange now, but it’s an announcement that more…

Site Selection

20 Tips For Finding an Affordable Meeting Site – Downtown meetings can be expensive, but there are ways for budget-conscious planners to save money…

Retreats/Meetings

The Ripple Effect – Conferences have different agendas. Some are filled with keynote presentations, some with breakouts and round-table discussions. A few have service days…

Meeting Planners

What Inspires You To Do Your Job? – Meeting Planners respond to this question at Rejuvenate…

It’s Not About You – As a frequent traveler, I’ve always appreciated good customer service, but…

Meeting Planner Survival Guide – Whether you’re a novice planner or a veteran, this compilation of must-read articles is your…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Resources – January Update

Here is what we’ve added in January by category:

Marketing/Promotion
Six Deadly Marketing Myths Busted – Using real data and science, learn to protect yourself from these superstitious bits of bad advice and become a better inbound marketer…

Site Selection
The RFP
–  From Accommodations to Food and Venues to Transportation, Learn How to Write an Effective RFP…

Contracts
Defensive Contract NegotiationsRisk management tips and strategies help your organization avoid disputes and losses…

Retreats/Meetings
Concentrate on Content – The primary reason most people attend conferences is the educational content…

Meeting Planners
The Great Shift Meetings and events enter the world of academia…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

What Should My RFP Include?

In a previous post (read here), I discussed why anyone planning an off-site meeting or event should utilize an RFP (request for proposal) process. Using an RFP process will result in more competitive and complete bids, less telephone tag, smoother negotiations and no big surprises.

The best way to achieve these positive results is by creating your own RFP. Should you choose to do this, here is a list of items you will want to consider including in your RFP:

  • Name/address of sponsoring organization
  • Your contact information
  • Preferred method of response (mail, fax, email, phone, etc)
  • Deadline for RFP submission and schedule for decision making process
  • Title of the meeting/event
  • Brief description of meeting goals, objectives and/or purpose
  • Meeting history for the past 3 years, if possible
  • Overview of attendee demographics
  • Preferred city or region
  • Possible meeting dates, including days of the week meeting is held and whether or not dates are flexible
  • Type of property preferred (i.e. downtown, airport, resort, Christian facility, etc.)
  • Projected sleeping room block, including info on arrival/departure patterns and estimate of single, double, triple, quad occupancy, etc.
  • Desired room rate range (this will help hotels know if they can be competitive or not)
  • Meeting space requirements, including size of rooms, registration area, staff area, 24-hour holds, etc.
  • Meeting schedule for each day
  • Exhibit information (i.e. # of booths, type of booths, set up and tear down times), if applicable
  • Food and beverage needs (i.e. breaks, catered meals, dietary requirements, etc.)
  • Expectations related to waived meeting room rental and complimentary rooms
  • Any other information that will help make your group more attractive to the hotel or conference center

While this may seem like a lengthy list, it’s not all inclusive. What other information do you include in your RFP’s?

Why Should I Use An RFP?

When it comes to planning and booking your next meeting, retreat or event, utilizing a well thought out RFP (request for proposal) process can be a great time and money saver. Obviously, the larger the meeting, the more critical it is to use an RFP, but that doesn’t mean RFP’s aren’t beneficial for smaller meetings as well.

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When you choose to use an RFP process, you basically have 2 options. The first option would be to utilize an RFP form provided by the facilities you’re interested in using. Here are some examples: Ridgecrest/Glorieta, Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Lake Williamson. The advantage is these are generally online forms that can be completed quickly and submitted to the facilities electronically. The downside is they are usually pretty generic and don’t ask for a lot details. You also give up control of how their bid comes back to you, thus making it more difficult to compare all the bids to each other.

The second option, which definitely takes a little more time on the front end, is to create your own custom RFP. After creating the RFP, you would then send it to each of the facilities you’re considering for your event, have them complete it and return to you. Having each facility complete the same RFP makes it much easier for you to compare “apples to apples” when it comes to all the financial details of the proposal.

While either option is better than just picking up the phone and calling facilities, I would definitely recommend taking the time to create your own RFP. In the process of creating your RFP, go through your meeting day by day and account for everything you will need from the facility. Doing so offers the following 4 advantages:

  1. More complete and competitive bids – The more information you give, and ask for, in your RFP, helps the facility to better understand your group’s needs. This should then allow them to be more competitive in their pricing.
  2. Less telephone tag – While I sometimes enjoy a good game of telephone tag…NOT! Simply, the more information exchanged in the RFP, the less the need for follow up telephone questions.
  3. Smoother negotiations – Because the facility knows all of your needs up front, they will usually be more open to negotiate. As a hotel operator, I was much more inclined to play give and take with a client that had laid all their needs out on the table. The last thing I wanted to see happen was for me to make a concession, only to see the group come back and ask for more stuff I was not even aware they wanted.
  4. No big surprises – This one’s huge. Neither you, or the host facility, want to get hit with big NEGATIVE surprises during the event. By taking the time up front to create a detailed RFP, you go a long way towards eliminating those big surprises no one wants to see.

What about you? Do you use RFP’s? Please feel free to share what has worked for you in the past.

Hotel Terms to Know

Recently I was talking with some meeting planners about how confusing “hotel lingo” can be. I agree, the terms we all use in our work may not be recognizable in others.

Here are a few definitions you should know.

Request For Proposal (RFP): An RFP is not a contract.  RFPs are considered an invitation for an offer to be made and potentially a contract issued.

Banquet Event Order (BEO): BEOs are the internal document generated to communicate to the hotel staff what the requirements of your meeting are.  BEOs will list your meeting set up, food and beverage, audiovisual and any other specifics about your meeting.

Cutoff Date: The cutoff date is the date the hotel releases your room block back to the general inventory.

Indemnification: To indemnify means to guarantee against any loss or damage that another might suffer.  These clauses in contracts are used to protect both parties against the negligent acts.

Force Majeure: Irresistible Force – the purpose of a force majeure clause is to protect both parties in the event that a part of the contract cannot be performed due to unavoidable causes which are outside of either parties control.

Attrition: Hotels set a value to your contract.  An amout of money they expect your business to generate.  “Attrition” occurs when a meeting is held but fails to reach expectations, either in number of rooms or the food and beverage revenue to the hotel.

10 Items for Meeting Planners to Include When Requesting a Proposal

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Whether your a seasoned planner or new to the job having a  stress free planning experience is always a goal.  When you have a meeting coming up and you need to request a proposal from a venue, here are 10 items you should always include with your request to make it as easy as possible for you and the venue to meet all of your needs.

1.  The Name and Address of your Ministry/Organization.
*Be sure to include your contact info and how you prefer to be contacted.

2.  The Title of your Meeting.

3.  The Dates of your Meeting.
*Include if your dates are flexible or set?

4.  What is the objective of your Meeting?

5.  How many Guest Rooms does your Meeting Require?
*Do you have history you can include from past meeting?
*What are the demographics of your attendees?
*Are there trends your aware of?

6.  What is the Daily Schedule of Meetings?
*Do you have any specific requirements?

7.  Do you require Exhibit Space?

8.  What are your Food and Beverage Requirements?

9.  What is your budget for Rooms, Meeting Space, Food and Beverage, etc.?

10.  Any additional information about your Ministry or this Meeting.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about submitting an RFP and as always if you have any suggestions or something that has worked for you in the past, please share it with us in the comments.