Writing an Effective Meeting Management RFP Set Yourself Up for Success!

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1 Writing an Effective Meeting Management RFP Set Yourself Up for Success! Including Sample Template By Lisa Burton, CMP Vice President Meeting Expectations 3525 Piedmont Road Building 5, Suite 300 Atlanta, GA

2 Having a meeting, but don t know where to start? Do you need outside assistance to get everything done, but don t know exactly what you need? Outsourcing some or all of your meeting management can gain you specialized expertise, increased efficiency and a fresh perspective freeing you to consider the big picture. Preparing a thorough RFP for meeting management services is imperative to successfully selecting a strong partner to work with you on your meeting(s). You should look for a firm that will work as an extension of your team and represent your organization to your attendees with the same respect and professionalism that you would a true partner. The certified meeting planners of Meeting Expectations share the following suggestions for approaching the RFP process, gleaned from years of experience responding to RFPs from organizations of varying scope and size: Time Management Provide a realistic timeline for the overall process, including a date for the final decision and notification. Be Judicious Ask for only for the information you will use, otherwise you can get overwhelmed and buried in unnecessary information that will hinder your decision-making. Set the Stage Provide a detailed overview of the event(s) so that the bidding firms can have a solid understanding of the business. This will also help reduce the number of questions they may have. Define Your Scope Draw clear lines around what your team will be responsible for versus the outside firm. Be Open Provide contact information for the person responsible for facilitating the RFP process, but beyond that, share how you would like to be approached with follow-up questions or requests for clarification. It s vital to make yourself available to questions from those that are bidding on your business. This provides everyone an opportunity to clarify topics that may not be completely clear to them. It also helps you get to know your potential partners aside from simply reading a proposal. How thorough are they? Do they grasp the general concept of what you re trying to accomplish? How well do they internalize your needs and address them in relation to their experience and expertise?

3 We have prepared a sample RFP outline to guide you. In it, we include many questions to assist you in envisioning the scope of your event, the many possibilities that are open to you and the various areas in which a third-party management company can support you. We hope you find this information useful as you seek out a true partner in creating a successful and memorable event. If we can answer any questions, please us at com. I. Group/Corporate Overview and Description a. History [Brief organizational history] b. Mission [Description of mission and services] c. Audience [What market segments do you serve?] II. Event(s) Introduction a. Description [Provide a brief overview of the event or events for which you are considering engaging with a third-party management company, its history, structure, etc.] b. Objectives [What role does this event play in the life of your business? Is its purpose to educate franchisees to improve store performance? Is it a lead generation or franchise development event? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your attendees trying to accomplish?] c. History i. Locations [Where were your last several events located? Do any stand out as having been more attractive to your attendees than others?] ii. Attendance [If an existing event, provide attendance numbers for the last few years if applicable, break this down into categories, i.e. paid attendees, complimentary attendees, vendors, exhibitors.] iii. Pricing iv. [Do you charge a registration fee? If so, provide a typical fee structure.] Highlights [What has been most successful about this event?] v. Lowlights [Where, in your opinion, and/or in your attendees opinions, has the event fallen short?]

4 d. Target Audience/Attendee Profile [Who attends? If different, who do you want to attend? Is the event oriented towards C-level executives? Current franchisees? Prospective franchisees? Managers? Investors? Vendors?] e. High-Level Event Planning Timeline [Provide a general timeline of key milestones in your event: when is event announced? When does the event website go live? When does registration open? Share any other meaningful dates or milestones.] f. Key Stakeholders [Who are the decision-makers within your organization? Which individuals or entities have ownership of this event? To whom does the success of the event matter?] g. Past Challenges [Why are you looking to outsource all or part of the event planning or management? What led you to seek a meeting management partner?] III. Overview for Selection Process and Timeline [Detail the following:] a. RFP response due dates b. Subsequent steps (i.e. in-person meetings, question-and-answer period) c. Decision date d. Project commencement date e. Project completion date IV. Budget [Any information that can be shared with respect to the event budget is very helpful. Or, if appropriate, state that budget development is one of the services you ll require.] V. Scope of Work Being Solicited [This section provides the basis for the responding meeting management companies bids. Please be as specific as possible about the expected deliverables.] a. Site Selection [Note: This is often a free service provided by third-party meeting management companies, which are typically compensated by the hotels utilized for the event.] i. Venue Sourcing [Have you already secured a venue for your program, or will your selected meeting planning company be preparing an RFP and venue search?] ii. Contract Negotiation [An expert can ensure you re getting the right value for your business and can represent you in negotiating important (potentially costly) clauses such as attrition, rebook and cancellation.]

5 iii. Sleeping Room Block Reporting/Management [Monitoring your room block through the life of the contract is a service many third-party management companies can provide.] b. Registration Management i. Registration System [What system has been used in the past? Should it remain or is your organization looking for a new system?] ii. iii. iv. Pre-registration Management [Do you need assistance managing the pre-registration process? Answering phone calls and s from registrants and potential attendees?] Reporting Requirements [What reports will you need and with what frequency? This is a good opportunity to include sample reports that illustrate the information you find essential to your planning process.] Badge Production & Management [Will your selected meeting management company be designing and printing badges?] v. On-site Management [Will you need on-site staffing and management of the registration and check-in area? Will you need support with distributing attendee materials (i.e. bags, agendas,\ gifts, etc.)?] c. General Logistics Management i. Food & Beverage Management [Briefly outline here the general food and beverage program for your event. Do you need assistance planning menus and determining/managing minimum guarantees for the hotel?] ii. Venue/Hotel Management [Your event hotel(s) require some relationship management. A meeting management company can provide your specifications in advance, manage attendee requests and prepare the hotel for your attendees arrival. For example, how will meeting rooms be set? Do you have VIP guests? Gifts or packages that need to be delivered upon checkin? State here whether you ll need support in managing the venue.] d. Marketing and Communications [Do you have marketing resources at your disposal, or do you require support? You can outsource specific elements of your attendance marketing campaign to full-service meeting management companies, or they can plan and implement an entire integrated marketing campaign around your event. Describe here whether you need an integrated marketing plan or whether you need project-based support, including the following:]

6 i. Website [Do you require an event website or microsite, or will you design and host that internally?] ii. Print Collateral [State here if you anticipate needing save-the-date announcement, invitations, sponsor/ iii. exhibitor prospectus, brochures, agendas or other printed materials.] Online Communications [Will your selected meeting management company be relied on to provide an campaign and list management? Social networking to promote the event and engage with prospective attendees?] e. General Session Production [Briefly describe your general session requirements here. Do you need assistance selecting an audio/visual production partner and/or overall management of the session, from sourcing equipment to writing a run-of-show for your speakers? Do you need help obtaining just the right keynote speakers or other talent?] f. Supplier Management [Outline whether you will need sourcing and management of suppliers, such as the ones listed here:] i. Audio/Visual ii. Destination Management Company iii. Transportation iv. Security v. Exhibit Service Contractor g. Content and Speaker Management [Think about your content. How is it developed? Do you need assistance with soliciting speakers, or managing them once confirmed? A third-party meeting management company can offer guidance in developing an agenda with purpose and meaningful opportunities for engagement with your attendees. From keynotes to education sessions, moderated roundtables or other structured networking events, describe here your requirements for support.] h. Sponsor/Exhibitor Management [Do you have an exhibit or sponsorship program as a component of your event? Would you like to? Do you need assistance with developing the program, selling it, then managing fulfillment? Do you require management of the exhibit services contractor? Describe your needs in these three areas:] i. Sales ii. iii. iv. Management Communications On-site Management

7 i. Technology Management [Describe the role of technology in your event and state whether you require the following services or products:] i. Online registration and payment processing ii. iii. Online community/social networking solution for pre- and post-conference networking Virtual meeting capability [Are you considering an entirely virtual event, or adding a virtual component to your live event? Virtual tradeshow?] iv. Live content streaming or content-on-demand for post-event consumption j. Budget and Financial Management [Do you need assistance constructing your event budget?] i. Reporting Requirements [What are your financial reporting needs during the course of the event?] k. On-site Management [The on-site execution is the culmination of your months of planning and partnership with your selected management company. If you engage your meeting management company to execute the event on-site, they tend to all the details so you are free to focus on the strategic objectives of the event and your own relationship with your attendees. Discuss here what your expectations are for on-site execution.] VI. Specific Questions to be Answered [If there are certain pieces of information you require in all RFP responses in order to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison between bidders, include those here.] VII. Proposal Guidelines, Requirements and Format [Do you prefer a specific format for proposals? If so, please make your expectations known here.] a. Format of Proposal b. Required Information to Include c. Pricing d. Qualifications e. Company Facts and Statistics f. Industry Awards and Recognition g. References h. Case Studies

8 VIII. Evaluation Criteria [What will your decision be based upon? If there are certain elements that will factor in more heavily than others, note that here.] IX. Contact Information [Provide contact information and the preferred method for receiving follow-up questions.]

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