Planners and suppliers have strong feelings when it comes to the request-for-proposal process. In fact, at a session during a Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference, one member from each side of the fence — Jennifer Glynn, with Marriott International at the time of the presentation but now with Meeting Encore, and Margaret Crackel of London Life Insurance Co. — started things off with a slide called, “What Drives Us Both Crazy.” (Answer: incomplete information.)

They followed up with some solid guidance on how to get the best ROI from your RFP. The first step is to create a clear and complete document. The best RFPs cover the following areas:

1. Program background and history

2. Overall meeting objective (e.g., training, incentive, sales kickoff)

3. Your requested dates, including any flexibility with those dates or with your day-of-week pattern

4. Attendee type (e.g., 30- to 50-year-olds, active travelers)

5. Budget guidelines (a specific room-rate maximum and estimate your food-and-beverage spend)

6. Room-block grid (include suites, staff rooms, pre-arrival rooms for ancillary meetings, and the like)

7. Agenda grid (general sessions, F&B functions, and breakouts; is a 24-hour hold necessary?)

8. Audiovisual needs (including ceiling height minimum, if relevant)

9. Requested concessions (e.g., site-inspection rooms, 1/50 complimentary room ratio, and the like)

10. Any contract clauses or standards that your company requires

11. Spousal program components

12. Recreational components

13. Finally, include key questions such as: When are renovations scheduled? Will competitors be in-house at the same time? Is the property unionized? How far is the airport? What are the applicable taxes and/or resort fees?

“Share as much detail as you can,” says Glynn, “so the hotel, venue or destination management company knows your needs and, most important, the value of your program.