When Global Events Partners (GEP), a consortium of 38 destination management companies in the United States and abroad, redesigned its Web site, it put a little of the human touch in its online requests for proposals, its core e-commerce service. When you log onto the RFP at the updated site (www.globaleventspartners.com), you don't just get the usual form. You also get a toll-free number you can call while you're online. On the other end is a real live human being to answer your questions in real time.
The GEP expert will help you through the RFP process, and when your form is perfect, you can send it through the site to DMCs that meet your criteria. The site promises that member DMCs will return proposals within 72 hours, and you can store your data on the Web site so you can update it for future meetings.
The site also provides an online survey that allows you to give post-event feedback, as well as a resources section where you can post questions, tell your war stories, take part in online discussions on measuring and managing event return on investment, and give your two cents worth on the pros and cons of using online planning resources (a refreshing choice of topics for an online planning Web site). A slew of case studies on how GEP'spartners have handled various planning needs is also there, including some ways they perked up tired meeting themes.
Another new feature is the Executive Guest Book, where you can comment on the site. Full of raves like, "in one word: Wow!" it's not terribly objective, but it's fun to cruise through and see if anyone you know has signed in, and it gives the site more of that homey feel.
GEP's Web site also offers you lots of ways to search its database of DMC partners--by name, city, state, or country--and it provides a quick click-on list for information about a specific DMC partner.
The site is rounded out with an online newsletter, updates from DMCs on what's happening in their areas, and a calendar of meeting industry events. Another addition to the site are profiles of two GEP partners--one domestic, one international--that will be changed monthly. And, of course, it includes a link to the Web site of GEP's sister company, The Krisam Group, which specializes in group hotel bookings.
All in all, it's an easy-to-use, interactive site for planners seeking a little humanity in their online search for DMC services.