NORTH POTOMAC, Md. — Sending out requests for proposals (RFPs) is one thing. Getting responses to RFPs is another.
RFP Valet, a service developed a year ago by ConventionPlanit.com, follows up with suppliers to find out whether they will respond to RFPs.
The service has a guaranteed 24-hour response, which promises that planners will be notified within 24 hours in regard to which suppliers will submit proposals. In most cases, meeting planners will have those proposals in hand within 48 hours.
The difference in ConventionPlanit’s system compared to others is its hands-on approach, said company founder David Markham.
After a meeting planner submits an RFP through the ConventionPlanit system — either by completing a form at the company’s website or by sending their own information attached to an email — a ConventionPlanit staff member contacts the planner to review the RFP and discuss possible venues.
After the RFP is distributed, ConventionPlanit staff follow up with suppliers who received the RFP to find out whether they will be submitting a bid.
Personal service makes the difference
“We are service-oriented — that is what separates us from what’s out there,” said Markham. “We follow up and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Within 24 hours, the meeting planners know who is going to be bidding [on their business.]”
After the connection is made, ConventionPlanit bows out and the planner and supplier negotiate.
“We put buyers and sellers together and then get out of the way,” Markham said.
There is no charge to meeting planners for RFP Valet and there are no commissions or hidden fees on the supplier side. Suppliers pay an annual fee to be a ConventionPlanit member.
There are a few qualifications for the program. Meetings must require 10 or more sleeping rooms, and if meeting space is also needed, it must be in proportion to the guest-room block. RFPs must also be new and not currently out in the marketplace.
Elite Marriott group among new members
In the past year, ConventionPlanit has added a number of venues in second-tier and smaller cities to its membership.
ConventionPlanit has also signed on Marriott’s Innovention Network, a collection of more than 60 J.W. Marriott, Marriott and Renaissance hotels with specialized staff that help meeting planners design innovative meetings.
Markham and his staff are marketing RFP Valet and other ConventionPlanit.com services in a number of ways. The company attends 17 industry tradeshows each year and is a sponsor of the Small Market Meetings Conference in Little Rock this fall. Three staff members spend their days calling meeting planners to educate them about the program.