With everyone being asked to do more at their events every year, and with no increase in budget, the importance of the procurement department has grown exponentially. Often with little meetings and events experience in their background, procurement professionals have had to do their own research and legwork to understand more about the services and items they are responsible for sourcing. Often, shifting their mindset from acquiring a vendor of building supplies to selecting a partner who can deliver meetings and events services -- such as a destination management company -- is difficult and confusing.
To combat these struggles, several companies are now involving their procurement professionals in the site visit experience; some are even inviting them on-site during the events. This hands-on, jump-in-feet-first mentality offers these professionals a new perspective on how to better connect with their supplier partners and deliver for the planners dependent upon their procedures.
Site visits are opportunities for DMCs to demonstrate their capabilities, level of service and attention to detail; they provide procurement professionals and planners with more of the intangible aspects of the proposal that may not come through on paper or email during the RFP process. For example, one DMC's vehicle pricing might be slightly higher than a competitor's; on site inspections, clients have an opportunity to view and ride in the vehicles the competing DMCs use and can experience the differences firsthand.
For our sales team, the relationships built by including procurement pros in site visits creates a level of trust and open communication we rarely have the time to foster. Procurement's ability to view DMC services beyond motor coaches, linens and chairs allows planners to focus on proposed experiences for their program and their guests, while giving the procurement team the knowledge to negotiate and add value for both parties involved. If bringing procurement to a site visit isn't in the budget, consider bringing them on-site during an event to assist the planning team. There's no better way for them to learn!
Elizabeth Hansen is national sales manager at destination management company AlliedPRA Las Vegas.