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.

Welcome to my column on meeting and event sourcing. I look forward to bringing you tips and ideas to help book your next meeting of any size and shape. Having been both a supplier and planner, I hope to provide you with insight that makes it easier for you to find the perfect place for your next event. To start off the New Year, I would like to give you 5 questions to ask yourself before you ever send out your request for proposal (RFP). These questions can save everyone time and energy, reducing the back and forth before you even receive proposals. Thus, you will receive the information you need in the response.

Ask yourself these five things when developing an RFP:

  1. What is the vision of the program and what are the goals of the meeting? Think with the end in mind and share that in the first part of your RFP.
  2. What innovations do I want to bring to this meeting? Make sure you include these ideas in the RFP. For example, are you looking to make this a hybrid meeting? If so, perhaps that will require some foyer space to have your broadcast booth.  Are you looking to incorporate open space learning? Large foyer space will be required for this. Understanding this will help your partners get a feel for what you need in terms of space.
  3. Do I really need to consider 10 destinations? Keep it to a short list up front. Your search will be taken more serious if there isn’t a long list of cities.
  4. Do I send the RFP be to both the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)/Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) and the hotel Global Sales Offices? If not, you should! They will work together to help you find the best fit. It is not a competition. The CVB/DMOs based in Chicago have an organization called Destination Reps. Keep all relationships strong. We are all here to help you.
  5. Am I providing too much detail? The answer is no. The more you know and share the better suppliers can help you. It is great when we get RFP’s with history including the food and beverage, wifi, audio visual, just to name a few. More is better. Also, it is important to include information on proposal deadlines, decision date, contract signature date, how the decision will be made, who will be making the decision and where the contract is going to be signed.

​I hope these questions spark some thought and inspire you to really look at the rfp you are sending out to search for your next meeting or event location. In our business, relationships are key at every level and the start of a good relationship is good communication including what you put in writing. Any questions, feel free to reach out to me at rriggs@tourismvancouver.com or 847.853.1647.