The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Meetings Committee and the Convention Industry Council (CIC) APEX Workgroup (APEX) released today a new joint whitepaper, Improving eRFP Efficiency and Effectiveness for the Meetings Industry. The whitepaper combines findings from complimentary research conducted by the two groups in 2014 examining eRFP use, drivers and effects to provide recommendations for improving the eRFP process.
GBTA conducted an online survey of 412 buyers, suppliers and third-party agencies in March of 2014 that looked at the impact of eRFPs on buyers, third parties and suppliers. CIC’s research included 20 interviews with individuals representing a cross section of planners who source locations for events and was conducted by Terri Breining (Breining Group) and Mariela McIlwraith (Meeting Change).
Use of electronic Request for Proposals (eRFPs) to source hotels and venues has boomed in recent years. This joint whitepaper focuses on trends in eRFP use from the perspective of all constituencies involved in the sourcing process including corporate/association buyers, hoteliers, third party buyers, meeting management companies, meeting technology companies and convention & visitor bureaus. While this has brought many benefits to the meetings industry, it also brings significant challenges due to the high volume of eRFPs issued, which are outlined in the whitepaper.
“eRFPs are clearly a positive tool for the meetings industry, but there is no question that in recent years their rapidly growing use has created significant challenges,” said Shimon Avish, GBTA Meetings Committee Member and Principal of Shimon Avish Consulting LLC. “We were pleased to work with CIC’s APEX Workgroup to create this whitepaper identifying the next steps to making the eRFP process more efficient and effective in an effort to continue to bolster the meetings industry.”
The whitepaper reveals several emerging best practices to reduce the number of eRFPs coming to market and increase satisfaction of all stakeholders involved in the process:
- Education – sourcing professionals must educate buyers on the impacts of over-issuing eRFPs as well as the benefits of both research to ensure appropriate hotels/venues are sourced and the importance of providing complete information.
- Processes – adopting standardized templates and better communications are among the ways to improve processes in dealing with eRFPs.
- Limits – limits can be imposed through policy or technology to keep the number of eRFPs down.
- Technology solutions – technology can be used to facilitate lead management processes for hotels/venues.
- Alternate technology models – alternate models can cut reliance on supplier payments to the meeting technology system or in certain cases can allow for a touchless booking system that completely eliminates the need for an eRFP.
“We are grateful we could put together the work and conversations from two independent industry workgroups into one whitepaper which articulates our collective issues and opportunities,” said Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, CDME, CMP, Chair of CIC’s APEX Workgroup on eRFP and Managing Director of DMAI’s empowerMINT.com. “Now the real work begins as we educate both buyers and sellers and strive towards more efficient processes.”