After the preliminary research is complete, create a request for proposal (RFP). This allows a property to see the written information concerning your group. Preparing the specifications is a valuable process because it requires the planner to think about all the needs of the group. There are many online RFPs available in the industry to use for making a benchmark. Document all site requirements, including:
- Preferred dates and optional dates (if available)
- Number and types of guest rooms
- Number, size and usage of meeting rooms and the times they are needed
- Range of acceptable rates
- Dates and types of meal functions and breaks
- Exhibits and any other special events or activities
- Any related information such as complimentary requirements
CREATING AN RFP
Some requests for proposals are short. Others may include dozens of pages. It depends on the nature of the meeting and the sponsoring organization’s tastes. The common denominator is that an RFP, also called a request for quote, sets forth how the planner wants a meeting facility to accommodate the meeting and help achieving its objectives. Below, items are mentioned to include in a comprehensive RFP for a fairly complex meeting. An important note: Sending the same RFP form to every property makes comparisons easier. Begin the RFP for a hotel, conference center or other facility with an overview that includes:
- Group or meeting sponsor: Full name of the organization (acronym in parenthesis) and a brief description of the sponsor-structure, mission and purpose.
- Contact information: Name(s) including alternate contacts, title(s), address(es), contact numbers (phones, fax, e-mail), contact times and time zones.
- The meeting: A brief description: purpose, goals and objectives, general format and audience profile.
- History: up to two years of meeting history: dates, attendance, location or locations used, reserved and used rooms, and range of rates.
Information to Provide
- Other sites and destinations under consideration. This allows properties to know with whom they are competing.
- Date selection. Determining the available and unavailable dates provides a structure for a property to respond with appropriate dates. If your group is flexibile in availability, state the parameters of the dates and/or days that are being considered.
Range of rates
- Determine the range of rates offered during the time of the year you are planning to organize your meeting.
- Provide parameters for rates that will be acceptable for your group.
- Indicate whether those rate parameters include taxes or any additional fees that may be charged.
- Special requirements. There may be special needs or information that will help the facility understanding what will make your meeting a success.
For example, you may need:
- A specific number of non-smoking or smoking rooms.
- A variety of restaurants within a few-minutes walk distance to the property.
- Low-cost transportation to and from airports.
- Room with facilities for disabled people.
- Request names and contact information for similar-sized meetings, focusing on meeting held in last 6 to 12 months at this property.
- Provide the date by which proposals must be received and what collateral materials (meeting room capacities, menus, AV rate sheets, labor charges, etc.) should be included.
- Describe your organization’s decision process and the date by which a decision is expected. Note that facilities may not hold the dates proposed until they receive a signed contract.
Complete meeting specifications
- Reserving rooms: Describe day-by-day specifications, including early arrivals/late departures; bed and room types; amount of guest rooms and what types (suites, singles, double-doubles, ADA-compliant, smoking, nonsmoking) you need to block.
- Space characteristics: Provide day-by-day description of spaces neededincluding registration area, office space, speaker ready room, lounges and all meeting space. Specify the set-up and tear-down times and the actual times of use. Provide the needed square footage for each room or the specific room setup including anticipated audiovisual equipment. For example, if your group uses a schoolroom set, specify the size of the tables, the amount of chairs (two or three) per table, and the room setup.
- Exhibit/display area: Even if your meeting does not feature a full exhibit program, you may tables for exposing information on the organization, city or vendor literature. For any exhibits or displays, specify net and gross square footage, construction and deconstruction times, and load factors for elevators, docks and exhibit halls.