With the economy picking up, meeting facilities and convention centers are getting buried with requests for pricing and often don’t know who to respond to first.
If you need a fool-proof method for getting the personalized attention your group deserves, read on.
Before You Request Price Quotes
- Start with yourself. As a rule, don’t contact anyone till you have a RFP in hand. For advice on developing one, refer to the Convention Industry Council’s exhaustive RFP worksheet tool to help design whatever it is you need.
- Decide on the appropriate destination. That’s exactly what MeetingSource.com is all about. Select attributes from your RFP and use our filters to shorten your destination list.
- Select possible meeting and hotel room facilities. Try to get someone on your side to select the right facility(ies) based on meeting space, guest rooms, location, price and ambiance. I’d put Convention and Visitors Bureaus on top of the list for being the most helpful and their services are always free. Their sales people usually have deep contacts in their market and will work with you to get your requests for proposals returned in a hurry.
- Consider using a third party meeting site selection professional. Most have to be very good at what they do to earn their living. More recently, they’ve become experts at using technology to automate the RFP submission process. Since they or their organizations are well known, facilities have taken them seriously and their business has really taken off. The largest of these firms are Experient, HelmsBriscoe, Prestige Global Meeting Source and ConferenceDirect. I’ve worked with two smaller firms – Informed Sources out of San Francisco and Travel Advocates of New Jersey. Find out how they will charge you up front – most charge the travel agency commission (or less) on the rooms they book. Whatever it is they charge, they usually save the same amount or more because of their skill. We are building are list of these professionals now.
- Develop your own way of successfully sourcing meetings. There are a lot more resources available to you in addition to those mentioned above. The most expensive option is to go pro yourself with your own special software as part of a Strategic Meetings Management Program. No doubt it’s going to cost you, especially if you’re an independent meeting planner working on your own. The upside is you can come back here and register as a meeting site selection professional in our marketplace for free so you can go put your expertise to work for others :-).
Note to self: next article – how to book a group that does not require overnight sleeping rooms :-).