Small Market Meetings

OCT 2016

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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October 2016 9 Building Better RFPs Meeting pros share their tips for getting the best response to your bid specs C arolyn Browning teaches seminars about creating better requests for proposals (RFPs). It is a hot topic, largely because meeting planners are increasingly frustrated by the lack of response their RFPs receive. The primary reason, she says, is the vol- ume of requests suppliers receive. "There's been a 300-percent increase in RFPs in the past five years," said Browning, owner of MEETing Needs. "Suppliers have less time to devote to each RFP, and they have to prioritize." RFPs that get the best response provide lots of detail about the meet- ing, its purpose, its budget, its needs, its attendees and its past history. "In my mind, there's no such thing as too much information," said David Berkoski, national accounts director for the Boston Park Plaza. Berkoski would rather skim a long RFP than make the follow-up calls that a skimpy one requires. "Planners need to become more savvy in terms of giving all the right information at the outset," said Browning. "It is still a seller's market, and we as planners are at a disadvantage. We have to make sure what we are asking for is what people want." Here are pointers and tips from Browning, Berkoski and their peers. Supply More Than the Basics About the Basics Guest rooms, meeting space and food and beverage are primary building blocks of an RFP, but planners must be as detailed as possible about each area. Guest room needs must be broken down by night, and numbers should be realistic, based on history, not wishful thinking. Meeting space requirements must also be specific. "Sometimes planners will say, 'We need eight breakouts, but they won't say on what days or what times," said Melissa Evans, sales man- ager of the Springfield, Missouri, CVB. Don't forget that meal functions require space. "If they are having two group dinners and four lunches for 200 people, they will also need space for that," said Evans. A group's food and beverage expenditure carries a lot of weight. For example, hotels typically aren't enthused about groups that use a lot of meeting space and few guest rooms. However, if those groups spend By Vickie Mitchell

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