by Eric Eden | January 01, 2014
• Target your requests so that you contact the most appropriate properties.

• Employ a two-step request-for-information and then request-for-proposal process.

• Include more detail about your requirements once you've narrowed down your list of properties.

• Provide alternate dates whenever possible.

• Be communicative throughout the process, and follow up to provide closure.
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The following checklist was compiled by Eric Eden, vice president of marketing at Cvent in McLean, Va., with information from the Event Planning Blog by Cvent ( Following these steps should increase the speed and quality of the proposals you receive from hotels and meeting venues.

Before Submitting an RFP

• Do your research. Understand your meeting destination options and the properties in that destination so as to best target places that fit your needs. Salespeople will be less likely to respond quickly if it appears you blanketed the whole region with requests.

• Leverage the destination marketing organization.
 As you start looking at different meeting locations, consider working with the local DMO or convention and visitors bureau to get a better understanding of a particular location. They know about their cities' venues, hot spots and local trends. If a new property is about to debut, a bureau can help you secure space there even before it's open. They should offer unbiased information on the various property options and meeting venues, which makes them invaluable resources.

• Short-list your properties.
 Trim your list before sending out a detailed request for proposal by first sending out a request for information, or "quick RFP." This two-step process increases efficiency by asking the right amount of questions of the right amount of potential suppliers.

• Determine how much detail you require.
 The number of questions you send to a venue should depend on where you are in the selection process. If you've narrowed your list and are trying to make a final decision, it's reasonable to ask venues for greater detail.

• Use technology. Online RFP channels automate the entire bid process and potentially can save planners an average of four to five hours per RFP. That time savings can make a significant impact when multiplied across all of the events in your organization.

Good to Include
• Define your requirements. Include room setups, A/V, food and beverage needs, and any other vital necessities of your meeting.

• Be flexible.
 Let venues know if you have alternate dates that would work for your event. This might result in better offers as hotels look to fill slower periods.

• Name your concessions. Be upfront about any promotional offers or concessions that you want included within the proposal. Being transparent about your most important requests will help eliminate unnecessary back-and-forth with potential suppliers.

After Sending Out Requests

• Set a reasonable time frame for responses. Planners serious about receiving quality responses must consider the amount of time required on the part of venues to provide the level of detail requested. Allow a minimum of 72 hours and a maximum of two weeks for them to respond.

• Communicate. The relationship side of the RFP process is a key ingredient for getting the best value for your meeting. Effective communication builds a trusting relationship between you and your suppliers, increasing your RFP response rates, and securing the best venue for your meetings and events.

Upon Deciding
•  Cancel or award all RFPs. Provide closure for the hotel representatives, as they commit a tremendous amount of time and energy to respond to requests. Your response delivers to properties the feedback they need on how to win your business in the future, and it lets them know that those dates and space are clear to give to another group.