We asked three meeting professionals a question; How do you really prepare a successful bid? This were the answers

How do you prepare a successful bid?

Philippe Fournier, Past-President IAPCO (2010-2012)

Nicolas Le Brun, EFAPCO President

Breda Pečovnik, Cankarjev dom, Programme Director

1. How do you prepare successful bid?
To make a long story short, preparing a bid is always a long task; it involves lots of research, constant networking and good finance! But before everything else, the “will” of all stakeholders involved is crucial. It is then about creating and selling a product. Therefore it takes time. The success will come from team work! You will need to be persistent and, if you don’t succeed at the first attempt, don’t hesitate to bid again with what you have learnt from the experience.

2. Who should be involved in the preparation of a successful bid?
You will have to identify the stakeholders for your bid: of course the members of the local community must be involved from the outset. Then, the convention bureau, convention centre, hoteliers and local authorities should be part of the game. Build a “team”, as said above, and motivate its members for the project.

3. What is the role of a PCO agency in the bidding process?
The IAPCO PCOs play an important role not only in supporting the bid with the other stakeholders but also often in putting it together (i.e. helping to finance, preparing the budget, organising the inspection visits and setting up the whole process). The IAPCO PCO will also be the communication and consulting agency for the association who wants to bid. Our experience and connections, as well as our professionalism, are a great asset for the bidder. As it is a long adventure, it is important that you choose the right company (an IAPCO PCO!) to help and be alongside you for the duration: one of the recommendations that we, as IAPCO, always make, is that your PCO will accompany you from the very beginning (putting together the bid) to the very end after you have won (organising the meeting). You will, by doing it that way, motivate him even more.

4. Who should cover financial investments in the bidding process?
It depends: you can have various financiers: the city, convention centres, regions, country, corporate sponsors, local associations, PCOs. It all depends on the financial structure you decide to set up. There are various models. But the fact is that a bid costs a lot of money for the simple and single reason that it takes time!

1. How do you prepare successful bid?
The market for international association congresses has become ever more competitive, with PCOs being challenged and put under intense scrutiny even for the smallest of events. The first step is to understand the association’s goals and this usually means a meeting and an exchange of views with its governing body. You need to understand the essence of the meeting and sometimes translate the final objectives of the President and his or her board. Why do participants, or members, (the client’s clients) register to participate, and what benefits should they get from the event? Then, what is the expected financial outcome from the congress?

2. Who should be involved in the preparation of a successful bid?
The PCO will identify people in the team with the experience and dedication to pass on their know-how and the capacity to convert it into a written bid, and then possibly to present it orally. Depending on the size of the project the PCO will be looking to involve associated partners including:

– The local CVB. It has an essential role in the compilation of bid books for larger conferences and in securing dedicated support from local politicians and involved authorities;

– A selection of possible venues both for the conference and for hotel accommodation and social programme options;

– A limited number of preferred suppliers, especially if the congress needs other specific services.

3. What is the role of a PCO agency in the bidding process?
A CVB’s central role is to attract new business to the destination it serves. A PCO’s role is quite different. In order to win new business it needs to convince the association decision makers that it is the best team to make the congress a successful reality. They have to prove they understand the client’s briefing, that they are capable of advising the association and that the team can handle all the administrative and logistical challenges involved. In short the bid should carry sufficient evidence that the PCO is the right choice to help the association reach all of its expectations from the event.

4. Who should cover financial investments in the bidding process?
Let’s be clear here: there should be no financial investment for the PCO. On the other hand, bid preparation is time-consuming and the PCO’s managers will probably dedicate a hefty number of hours to research and written preparations. “It’s a key part of the game” and the reason why PCO agencies need to evaluate all the opportunities to respond to a bid request. It’s worth bearing in mind that all too often associations do not supply a sufficiently detailed briefing about their event, so there can be quite a lot of groundwork to cover even before the bid process can begin.

1. How do you prepare successful bid?
If we are addressing the association market we know every association has its own rulebook for preparing a bid, which we must study and stick to thoroughly. The bid must cover all areas: we’re usually talking about transportation to and within the country, information on capacities, hotels and venues, the record of expenses, accommodation, taxes, possibly experts and a social programme. Destination security is more and more often coming into play. The bid documents are just the beginning of the organisation process. The bid is usually presented live to members of the association or to the organisation committee.

2. Who should be involved in the preparation of a successful bid?
A successful bid convinces the decision makers to support it, so we include all actors who are an indispensable part of the congress and those who are economically, professionally, logistically and politically tied to it. These are the representatives of the expert programme (clients), sponsors, hotels, carriers, agencies, caterers and others. A successful bid should be presented and prepared by a person who believes in its success from the very beginning – this is the only way to convince others.

3. What is the role of a PCO agency in the bidding process?
The PCO is a key link between the client (usually their local representative) and the international association as well as other stakeholders necessary to execute the meeting. The PCO prepares the bid, presents it and answers all of the questions linked to the event from a financial, organisational and logistical point of view.

4. Who should cover financial investments in the bidding process?
It depends on the congress, there is no standard formula. In practice the fairest model is by the weight of the input – those who invest the most should get the biggest piece of profits. If we are realistic, all the stakeholders should work together and contribute to the bid:  air carriers, hotels, venues, DMC, caterers, national and city convention bureaux.