Crafting a Proposal that Gets Business | Sports Destination Management

Crafting a Proposal that Gets Business

Feb 26, 2021 | By: Tammy Dunn
Evergreen State Fairgrounds: Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sports Commission
Over the last year, the sports tourism industry has faced many challenges. Many destinations and event rights holders may have been establishing new strategies for staying relevant and new ways to host sporting events. As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, we may have established new strategies to stay relevant. We may be looking at things differently to win the business. Or are we?
Certainly, we are seeing some new questions when it comes to discussing events and destinations, and we need to be ready with the answers to them:
“Do you have a COVID event plan which outlines health and safety procedures? What are the requirements from the local destination and/or venue? What is required by the event owner and participants/families? Is live streaming technology important to host that event? Does the ability to livestream an event add value to host the event?”
It’s a new year, and destinations and event rights holders are planning for the future years. Everyone wants to be successful, so what should the event rights holders state in the event RFP, and what should the destinations be providing in the bid proposal?
While the information contained in these two different types of proposals can be very different, the goals are very much the same: to provide as much information as possible, to showcase the event (or the destination) to its best advantage and ultimately, to prove a match between destination and event will be a winning combination. But to get to that winning combination, it’s essential to get the right start.
First, let’s discuss the event RFP, from an event rights holder perspective.
An event RFP should provide details of the venue and hotel requirements, community involvement and support, and financial commitments. It should also provide essential information about the event itself, as well as the event owner.
Melissa Weymouth, USA Volleyball, Director, Beach & National Team Events & Sponsorship, states, “Essential items in an RFP include event name, dates, venue needs, hotel needs and room nights, bid fee if applicable, and what other, if any, financial assistance you are asking for from the city.” These details will allow the destination to craft a great bid proposal showcasing the venue, hotels, and community support.
“I believe as much information as necessary to provide a clear picture of the event is appropriate. Including the appropriate information is also helpful to us as the rights holder to cut down on questions with the high interest in some events,” states Cody Crowther, USA Triathlon Events and Programs Manager. The event details reduce the number of questions from the destination. This, in turn, is what allows the destination to determine if they can create a bid proposal to win the business.
One tip I learned over the years is to talk with the event rights holder to learn and understand more about the event whenever you are interested in submitting a bid proposal. For example, over the years, I have met with Corinne Shigemoto, USA Judo Director of Membership and Events, at various sports conferences. She always states, “Our RFP is our ‘wish list.’ This is what it takes to run a USA Judo event. What can you help us with? Where can we negotiate?” This is a valuable piece of advice, and I often remind myself of it whenever I am reviewing an event RFP for the opportunity to craft a winning bid proposal.
From a destination perspective, what does it take to craft a winning bid proposal? What should sports commissions and CVBs be ready to provide that will give their proposal the best chance of success? 
The bid proposal should provide clear detailed information stated in the event RFP. This includes, but is not limited to, hotel rates, venue specifications and letters of support from elected officials and community leaders. Details in the bid proposal showcase that your destination is a great fit for the event and that the event rights holder knows that your efforts are sincere.
While reviewing the event RFP, contact the events rights holder to ask questions and have a discussion about the details of the event RFP. The opportunity to learn about the event can help your destination to submit a proposal that may include information or ideas that the event rights holder never thought of. Your destination’s “touch” showcases your community’s magic and brings the event to life on paper.
Sporting events are a memorable experience for the athletes, family members, coaches and event staff as well as for the community. Include your community’s uniqueness, fun family attractions, favorite restaurants in your bid proposal to paint the picture of your destination. 
When you are doing your research with the rights holder, learn more about the target market. Don Dukemineer, Director of Sports Development, Decatur Morgan County Tourism, states, “I always like when event organizers go above and beyond to provide the intricate details that are not listed on the event RFP to help us as destinations offer assistance or a bid that really speaks to the full event.” 
No matter the size of the market, small to mid-size to large, providing details on the hotels, venues and community will help craft a winning proposal. From a small to mid-size market perspective, Dukemineer offers this advice. “No fact or detail is too small, but it offers small to mid-size markets a chance sometimes to compete and stand out above other markets.” Don gave this example: “If their participants are big ice cream eaters, then I want to understand those small details so that I can alert my hotels and restaurants that they may need to stock up before teams or individuals arrive.”
Detailed information on a bid proposal is essential. A conversation with the event rights holder about the event is valuable. Crafting a winning bid proposal is about working together to have a successful event. Dukemineer, states, “I want the organizer to realize that our team is all-in! How we can work together better and easier – that is the goal for success.”  SDM

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