6 Tips for Writing a Better Transportation Request for Proposal (RFP)—From the Vendor Perspective
Event Transportation Systems (ETS) responds to numerous transportation RFPs (Requests for Proposal) that meeting planners send out in advance of their large meetings and events. We win some and we lose some, but we have learned a lot about how RFPs are written and have put together 6 tips for writing better proposals based on the best RFPs that we’ve received.
1. Create an Organized RFP Structure
We think it’s important to present questions in clearly-numbered or lettered sections grouped by similar content. A clearly-structured format helps vendors organize their responses, and will help you quickly match up responses with your questions. This suggestion may seem basic, but we have seen many RFPs that are not organized with content grouped in sections that make sense. Disorganized RFPs may result in disorganized responses and will likely add time to the process of evaluating proposals.
2. Be Open to Alternatives
Even if you have a single transportation vendor in mind, the RFP should be written in more general terms to allow responding vendors to offer different types of solutions. Otherwise, you might miss out on identifying vendors that offer additional value-added services or unique ways of providing more cost-effective solutions.
3. Highlight Important Dates and Contact Information
Highlight important dates so the vendors can plan ahead, such as the RFP due date, interview dates, pre-con dates, decision dates, and key meeting and event dates. Also, include a primary contact along with information outlining how and when a vendor can submit questions concerning the RFP.
4. Be Up Front About Your Goals for the RFP
Vendors put a lot of time and effort into their RFP responses and appreciate knowing if an organization is seriously considering hiring a new vendor or is just validating pricing from the current vendor. If price validation is the goal, we suggest that you create an RFI (Request for Information) that asks for only key pieces of information that will help determine if you want to move forward with a more formal RFP.
AND, when you DO send out an RFP, it’s always helpful to schedule a Q&A session via a short face-to-face meeting or conference call that will help both you and the vendor determine if there is a good company culture alignment.
5. Limit Your Vendor List
You can add more efficiency to the RFP process if you do some basic research on prospective transportation management companies prior to sending out the RFP. Review vendor websites ahead of time to ensure companies are affiliated with reputable organizations like CVBs and trade associations, and meet industry-standard safety and insurance requirements. Also check for client recommendations or reviews both on their websites and other meetings industry websites. Taking these steps will provide you with insights into types of clients these companies have worked for and customer satisfaction levels, and will ultimately help you limit the number of proposals you need to send out and evaluate.
6. Provide Budget Parameters
You are more likely to receive a complete response from a vendor if you include your transportation budget in the RFP. Armed with this information, a vendor can weigh in on hotel selection and route planning, and use their expertise to suggest solutions that may end up being more cost effective. A good vendor wants to be your long-term partner and will always look for ways to improve service and reduce costs when possible.
These are just some suggested tips for improving the RFP process that will hopefully help you be more efficient and lead to selecting the transportation vendor that is the best match for your organization. Please share your experiences!
Event Transportation Systems is a leader in ground transportation options throughout North America. For more information, please contact us.