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by Matt Alderton | June 25, 2015
To help meeting professionals improve the electronic Request for Proposals (eRFPs) process, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Meetings Committee and the Convention Industry Council (CIC) APEX Workgroup (APEX) have released a new joint white paper in which they present best practices for the use of eRFPs to source hotels and venues, GBTA and CIC announced today.

"Use of [eRFPs] to source hotels and venues has boomed in recent years. This joint white paper 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 and visitor bureaus," the organizations explained in a joint press release. "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 white paper."

Titled "Improving eRFP Efficiency and Effectiveness for the Meetings Industry," the white paper combines findings from complementary research conducted by GBTA and CIC in 2014 examining eRFP use, drivers, and effects. Among its recommendations:

• 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 touch-less booking system that completely eliminates the need for an eRFP.

"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 white paper identifying the next steps to making the eRFP process more efficient and effective in an effort to continue to bolster the meetings industry."
 
Added Christine "Shimo" Shimasaki, chair of CIC's APEX Workgroup on eRFP and managing director of Destination Marketing Association International's (DMAI) empowerMINT.com, "We are grateful we could put together the work and conversations from two independent industry workgroups into one white paper which articulates our collective issues and opportunities. Now the real work begins as we educate both buyers and sellers and strive towards more efficient processes."