You have 60 days to organize the next sales meeting, but you just don't have time to call your national sales contacts or peruse an online facilities database. For those last-minute meetings, consider Smart RFP, a new Web-based site selection service launched by Cardinal Communications, Berkeley, Calif.
When you register at www.smartrfp.com, you fill out a Request for Proposal, detailing your meeting specifications. So far, that's nothing unusual. There are other services that allow you to submit electronic RFPs. The difference is, with Smart RFP, you don't have to figure out which properties to approach. When you submit the RFP, it goes to staffers who evaluate your needs, distribute your proposal to venues they think would be a good match, and come to you within 48 hours with recommendations. Once you make your decision, the staff can help you negotiate your .
Smart RFP is really a site selection company with a Web interface. "We're a hybrid," explains Rodman Marymor, CMP, Cardinal's managing partner. "We're somewhere between Event-Source and PlanSoft [facilities databases] and Helms/Briscoe and ConferenceDirect [site selection firms]."
Like other site firms, Smart RFP's services are free to planners. The company is paid a commission by the hotels. (For more on the fee structure and other issues surrounding site selection companies, see story, page 50.)
Smart RFP's Web component eases the proposal writing process, says Marymor. The company assigns you a personal user area, where you can save, write, and edit various RFPs. A customizable hot dates area will soon be added.
Smart RFP will license the technology so a company can set up the site on its own intranet. Companies can also get a cut of the commissions paid to Smart RFP, adds Marymor.