Rachael Riggs, based in Chicago, leads the Midwest, US sales effort for Tourism Vancouver’s meeting and convention team. She’ll be blogging for the MPI Chicago Area Chapter all year in an effort to educate planners on sourcing.

I hope you enjoyed my last article on how to build an RFP. As a reminder, the five questions to start with are:

  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 be to both the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)/Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) and the hotel Global Sales Offices? 
  5. Are you providing too much detail?  

For the next two months, I am going to dive deeper into each individual question so that by Spring, you have the perfect RFP. 

Question #1: What is the vision of the program and what are the goals of the meeting? 

There is no doubt, that this can be a hard or easy question to answer depending on who you are planning the meeting for and with. As most meetings serve several purposes with multiple key decision makers, you have a unique opportunity to lead the decision makers where they need to go with the end goal in mind. Oftentimes, the vision is the same answer every year. For example, the answer might be “this is our annual meeting/event to bring members, employees and/or customers together for education and networking.” 

Take the first step and conduct a brainstorming session with all of the key stakeholders to get their input from the beginning. It will help set the right tone of team work and listening to everyone’s input. While it does not mean that all ideas will be used, at least everyone will appreciate being asked for their opinion. Additionally, it builds trust and develop an open relationship between the meeting planner and the end client, which will help achieve the goal of implementing a successful meeting. 

During this brainstorming session, lead your client through a series of questions to further develop the vision and goals. 

These questions might look like:

  1. What motivates you?
  2. What motivates this group of people? 
  3. What do you want attendees to walk away with at the end of the meeting?
  4. What do the attendees need to learn/accomplish at this meeting? 
  5. Is there a new innovation that you want to showcase? 
  6. Is there a new audience we are trying to attract?
  7. Have you seen anything at other conferences that you would like to consider for this meeting? 
  8. What technologies are used by the audience as of late? Are their uses changing?
  9. What social media channels do the attendees use? 
  10. Do you want to leave a legacy with this meeting? 

Based on the answers to these questions, you can start developing a look and feel for the meeting and establish some basic goals which will help you when you go to source a location for the meeting. If you share these details and unite everyone under the same goals, it will make for a great meeting. Stay tuned for the next article where we will explore the topic of innovation in your RFPs.

About the Author:
Riggs is based in Chicago and lead the Midwest US sales effort for Tourism Vancouver. Prior to working with Vancouver, she represented Baltimore and San Diego in similar roles. In addition to working for CVBs, Riggs was a planner at the SmithBucklin and The Sherwood Group (now the Kellen Company), which enables her to bring both perspectives of the meetings industry to this column. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to her at rriggs@tourismvancouver.com or 847.853.1647.