Executive Group Travel Blog

RFP's for Incentive Travel

[fa icon="clock-o"] Mar 29, 2016 10:07:00 AM [fa icon="user"] Marci McCormack [fa icon="folder-open'] Incentive Travel

The RFP:

You might have heard the letters RFP but never understood exactly what it meant.  An RFP is a request for proposal in which a company uses to solicit suppliers to submit quotes (proposals) for a business opportunity.  

For many industries the RFP process is both daunting and exhilarating.  It means you have a new prospect but it also means there are competitors in the deal and there is leg work to be done.  For those creating the RFP there are a few tips to ensure you are submitting an efficient and effective RFP.  

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How to Write a Strong RFP:

The more detailed the better but if you are limited on time or information here are a few places to start.  The perfect RFP is one page, concise yet detailed enough to receive a strong proposal back.  The more information you provide the less questions you will get.  If the event requires meeting space I recommend a page two which outlines each day and the space required.

  • Who is the company, where are they from and what do they do.
  • What is the history of the event?  How many years and what hotels/locations.
  • Preferred dates, Alternate dates, Decision date (when contract will be signed)
  • Site Visit required?  If so timeline of when site visit will happen
  • Commissionable or Non-commissionable rate 
  • Rooming needs - ROH, Suites, or King/Double breakdown
  • Meeting Space requirements 
  • Food and Beverage needs (this will help them decide on an F&B amount).

Concessions - Make sure you flag what MUST be included for this contract to be signed 

  • Attrition Policy ~15-20%, can be tiered by dates
  • Complimentary Internet in guest room and meeting space 
  • Staff Rooms (complimentary or discounted)
  • 10-25% discount off catering menu
  • 10-20% discount off spa (pre-booked)
  •  For large programs % credit to master for consumed nights.
  •  Rewards points or meeting planner perk programs
  • Cancellation penalty special requests
  • Complimentary upgrade requests 
  • Complimentary room ratios for every # booked per night.

Additional Costs to Recognize:

  • Access to gym & fitness classes
  • Parking costs (Valet versus Self Park)

Submitting the RFP:

The RFP process is daunting and many believe the toughest part in event planning.  For a large sales kickoff event during the busy conference season of January/February don't be surprised if you find yourself sending 50+ RFP's in order to find the perfect fit.  Once you start building a relationship with a hotel or a contact at a hotel chain your RFP's can get a little shorter and a quick conversation will replace the back and forth.  Some chains such as the Four Seasons and Fairmont have global contacts which will make your life much easier.  You can initiate all RFP's with that contact and they do the legwork of reaching out to the individual hotels!  A huge time save and great way to build a partnership with a hotel group.  

Other chains, such as the Hyatt and Hilton struggle in the RFP process.  It's a long online submission process and sometimes the RFP's get lost.  It drives me crazy when there's an online submission process but no where to attach an official RFP.  Or even worse when the sales contact number is wrong on the corporate website (culprits Starwood & Hilton).  I find the best way to get an immediate answer is calling the hotel directly and asking for an email address and phone number for a contact in the sales department. A quick email to introduce yourself, the opportunity, and attach your RFP should get a response within 24 hours.  If you haven't heard back in 48 hours don't be afraid to pickup the phone to follow-up.  

My final piece of advice in the RFP process is: "if you don't ask you don't get."

Look for a future post on the art of hotel contract negotiations.