IACVB Debuts Online RFP Service The International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Washington, D.C., has joined the e-bandwagon with the launch of an online meetings RFP program that's easy to use--and free.

"If you can send e-mail, you can use it," according to IACVB Chairman Bill Peeper.

There is no extra cost for IACVB members to use the online RFP service, Peeper says, and all of the association's 460 members worldwide have linked on to it. The RFP essentially works as a distribution conduit for member CVBs who in turn distribute the information to their own member hotels and facilities.

IACVB's RFP service generates no income for the association and is simply an added value for members, Peeper says. While e-commerce has increased sales for hotels and convention facilities, Peeper says that from his point of view, the Internet is not a huge moneymaking venture. "We're seeing an increase in sales, but there are huge costs in these programs, like maintenance," he says. The point, Peeper says, is keeping the playing field competitive, and IACVB's reach is its advantage.

Unlike PlanSoft's RFP service, the IACVB RFP service comes with no guaranteed turnaround time. Each bureau is responsible for its own responses to the meeting planner, according to Peeper, but each bureau is monitoring its response times. PlanSoft guarantees a response time designated by the planner--typically around 48 hours.

When planners use the service on the IACVB Web site, the RFP can be sent one of two ways--via traditional e-mail, which will pop up when that icon is chosen, or by using IACVB's online form. Either way, planners can choose as many or as few bureaus as they desire. The RFP then follows the conventional route: the CVBs in the selected cities send the request along to properties in a format determined by each bureau; planners are then contacted by the bureaus through the traditional e-mail or telephone process.

The advantages are the function's simplicity and, Peeper says, IACVB's broad reach.To access IACVB's Request For Proposal service, meeting planners can go to www.iacvb.org, click on "Services for Meeting Professionals" and then "Send RFP/bid proposal to the cities of your choice."