While transportation can be one of the largest line items for a large meeting or convention, it’s common for meeting planners to spend less time on a thorough RFP process for identifying the right partner.
If you take the time to ensure you have covered all the details in your initial RFP, you will save time during the review and selection process. To assist meeting planners with their transportation partner selection process, we put together a transportation RFP template, available for download on our website, which we’ve developed from our experience in responding to numerous RFPs over the years.
The key elements that should be included in every RFP include:
1. Details, Details
The more information you provide about your meeting – including overview of your organization, schedule, attendance, special events, demographics of your attendees, and specific things that are important to you – the more likely you are to get responses that are customized to meet your specific needs.
2. Quality and Safety
Moving large numbers of attendees safely and efficiently to and from meeting venues and hotels is extremely important to a meeting’s success. Be sure to ask enough questions about the buses that will be used, Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Defense (DOD) ratings, driver training, and experience.
Most transportation management companies who manage large meetings don’t own their own buses, and contract with local bus companies, so it’s very important to know the process of how their bus equipment vendors are selected. Experienced transportation management companies have strong relationships with highly rated bus vendors in all the major cities which improves the likelihood of a high quality experience for meeting attendees.
We all know that there’s much more focus on disaster planning these days with the advent of unanticipated events whether active shooters or natural disasters. The key to being prepared for such events is having a detailed communication plan in place and understanding how you can communicate with all of your meeting support partners.
That’s why it’s critical to understand how your transportation partner communicates with their staff, their drivers and the meeting planning team. Ask questions about communication systems, and how staff and drivers are trained to handle challenging situations. Also, how do persons with disabilities request transportation that will meet their needs?
4. RFP Schedule
You have busy schedules and your partners have busy schedules. It’s always a great idea to have a structured schedule for your RFP with key dates included, so potential partners can plan in advance. These included not just RFP due date, but your response date, interview dates for finalists, and any pre-cons you would like the vendors to participate in.
5. Transportation Sponsorship
Because transportation can be costly especially for large meetings that are held in cities where there are few hotels near the convention center. This is where transportation-related sponsorship opportunities can really be an asset. Ask about the vendor’s ability to provide services that can support your sponsorship program.
This can include shuttle graphics and sponsored video programs. Transportation management companies differ in terms of the breadth of services they provide. Some will produce the graphics and handle the distribution of DVDs on buses, while others can produce video programs and provide staff who can serve as an extension to your sales team.
Obviously cost is going to be key criteria in the evaluation process, but we suggest looking at the big picture of all the services that can be provided, the experience of the companies especially in the city/cities where you will be hosting your meetings, and the quality of references.
“You get what you pay for” definitely applies in the transportation management selection process. Be careful about cutting corners to save money, which can directly impact the attendee experience.
And finally, be sure to ask tough questions when speaking with references. Are references saying “they will get the job done” or are they saying “they go above and beyond to exceed our expectations year after year?”
About Event Transportation Systems
ETS provides reliable, customized ground transportation for meetings and events of all sizes across North America, and transportation related sponsorship sales and fulfillment.
Have an RFP ready? Contact us here to learn how we can provide excellent transportation services and offset costs with unique sponsorship opportunities. If not, download the Event Transportation RFP Template to get started today.