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You have been tasked with planning your organizationís next big meeting, conference or convention, and the stakeholders in your company have asked you to consider unfamiliar destinations and hotels. They have asked you to ďshake it upĒ and basically start the planning process from scratch.

This document will help you do just that. Whether this is your first conference or your 40th, our step-by-step guide will give you great advice along the way. Each chapter is built upon the previous one, but the wonderful thing about this guide is that you can skip to the chapters that are the most relevant to you and your organization.

This guide will teach you about the elements of choosing the perfect destination and venue, which includes writing a responsive RFP, analyzing the results, looking at other considerations the RFP may not have addressed (including a site visit) and negotiating a ďwin-winĒ for both parties.

Most importantly, Cvent wants this to be a tool you can continually return to for guidance and help. Please give us your feedback about ways it has helped you plan your most successful conference yet!


  • CHAPTER 1 Picking the Perfect Destination
  • Before you even begin to think about the perfect hotel, you must first decide on the destination where you want your meeting or event to be hosted. This is a critical first step because which destination you choose can impact how people perceive your event. Choosing Las Vegas over DC, or Chicago over Orlando tells attendees what kind of experience they can expect. Sometimes your destination is predetermined, especially if itís a small meeting. But for those of you who have options, please start here.

  • CHAPTER 2 Choosing the Best Venue
  • Now that you know the general location of your event, itís time to get specific. Choosing a hotel to send your request for proposal to doesnít have to be complicated if you follow a series of filters. Do you want a luxury hotel or an economy? Do you want a hotel close to an airport or downtown? Do you need a boutique hotel because youíre looking for something unique or does a normal hotel suffice? Read this chapter to ensure you choose a group of hotels that match your event or meeting needs perfectly.

  • CHAPTER 3 Writing the Perfect RFP
  • Now that you have a group of hotels who you want estimates from, you need to write the request for proposal (RFP). Whether you write your own or rely on an eRFP technology like Cventís, this step is extremely important because while youíre paying a hotel to host your meeting or event, itís still a two-way street: hotels have to select you as much as you select them. This chapter is filled with tips to ensure that youíre sending an RFP that makes a hotelier beg to work with you.

  • CHAPTER 4 Evaluating Hotel Proposals
  • If you donít use an eRFP tool, hotel proposals can come in a myriad of ways, some easier to read than others. Thatís why we recommend you use a digital solution because it will ensure that not only hotels send proposals formatted for ease of understanding, but they also provide ways to help you compare them side-by-side. Regardless of which path you choose, this chapter will help you figure out what it all means and which areas to really focus on when making your decision.

  • CHAPTER 5 Making the Most of Your Site Visit
  • Depending on the size of your meeting or event and which destination youíve chosen, you should spend time on a site visit. Walking through a hotel in person will help point out pros and cons you canít determine from a website or phone call. This chapter offers tips for organizing your site visit and what to do once you get on property.

  • CHAPTER 6 Negotiating with Hotels
  • For most planners, negotiating with a hotel is the hardest part of the sourcing process. Hoteliers negotiate for a living so they come to the table prepared, which means youíll have to do your homework too. This chapter will give you the necessary knowledge to ensure that youíre able to get the demands you have and will also recommend which services are typical to get comped during the process.