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Ten Steps to Make Your Meeting Proposal Stand Out From Your Competition

This post is by guest contributor Cara Tracy, CMP, CMM.  Cara is a meetings industry professional who has been on the supply side of the industry, as well as the planning side.  This post offers great advice to hotels, CVBs and anyone else who provides proposals to meeting planners!

Lego men
Don’t you love getting requests for proposals? It’s like someone handing you a piece of business … almost. Follow these ten simple steps and you will make a positive first-impression which will help you stand out from your competitors.
1. Follow all instructions
The planner has told you what they want and what is important to them. Pay attention to this. If the RFP says not to call, do not call. If the RFP asks for average menu prices, distance from the airport, whatever—provide the information that is requested.

2. Do your homework
Check to see if the planner and/or organization has used your property before and acknowledge it. I don’t feel like a valued customer when I’m treated like a new piece of business. I appreciated a proposal I received recently from a property that I’ve used in the past. In addition to thanking me for my loyalty, the sales manager also left out the “fluff,” since I am familiar with her property, and just gave me the information I requested.

3. Address my concessions
If you can’t offer all of the concessions requested, contact the client to find out what’s most important to them, what they can live without, etc. If I ask for a certain number of upgrades, it’s for a reason (in my case it is for my board of directors—I can’t give some upgrades and not others.)

4. Don’t waste my time
If I am looking for a rate under $150 in February, don’t offer me a $300 rate in January.

5. Don’t use acronyms
In one proposal, a hotel offered my group “comp HSIA in guestrooms.” I assume that means high-speed internet access but since that term is not widely used, it’s best to spell it out.

6. Don’t call something a concession that isn’t
Oooh, thank you Mr. Hotel Sales Manager for offering my group a complimentary registration desk and conference office. Do you charge other groups for this?

7. Know your client
Planners who work directly for a corporation, association or government agency typically do not have clients, so don’t refer to their “client’s attendees” in your proposal. Just say “your attendees.” Also, don’t invite the planner over for lunch next week if they live across the country.
8. Watch your wording
If you aren’t sure about the definition of a word, look it up. A hotel sales manager promised “You will have a successful meeting at the XYZ hotel with every detail being overlooked by your dedicated event manager.” Um, I don’t want ANY detail of my meeting to be overlooked.

9. Be reasonable
Don’t mention in your proposal “I will call you in a few days to see if we can move forward with a contract.” Really? Does anyone make a decision that quickly? Instead, look at the due date on the RFP and say something like “I will contact you after (due date) to see if you have any questions or if I can provide you with more information about ABC hotel.”

10. Review your proposal before you send Check for missing information, spelling and other errors. Make sure you didn’t leave someone else’s name and/or company name in the template. Look for inconsistencies. Did you offer complimentary parking under “concessions” but list parking charges in another part of the proposal?

Your potential client took the time to create an RFP specifically for their meeting and their organization's needs. Honor and respect them by taking the time to respond in an equally—if not more—thoughtful manner. If you crank out a standard “form” proposal, you are not showing your genuine interest in their business and will sound and look like everyone else, even if your property and service are superior.

What are other best practices you can use when responding to RFPs?

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