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14 June 2012 | Adam Leach
The traditional request for proposal (RFP) process is not redundant but buyers and suppliers do need to work together to improve it, a panel of purchasers concluded.
At a session at the Business Travel Market 2012, which started yesterday at the Excel centre in London, the audience heard from senior representatives in the business travel industry who were for or against the motion: ‘the traditional RFP is dead’. Chief among the criticisms was that they are too long and ask for too much detail, which is placing a heavy burden on suppliers hoping to win business.
Bruno Fornasiero, director of global sales optimization at BCD Travel, who appeared on the panel to defend the process, admitted that while the principle remained strong, the process could be improved. He explained that on multiple occasions he had seen RFP documents asking questions such as: “how many keystrokes are needed to make a booking?”. He said that those types of questions were not needed and just added to the workload.
Russell Green, director of corporate sales for UK&I at IHG, was strongly against the traditional process. He said it should be just getting know whether you would consider doing business with a supplier, which would then be followed up by meetings and the development of relationship. He advocated greater use of the less formal request for information (RFI) process.
Sarah-Jayne Aldridge, HR and professional services senior category manager at Telefonica O2 UK, supported the use of RFPs. She said part of the problem is that suppliers may not understand why some of the information requested in an RFP is needed and in turn buyers, unless travel specialists, might not be familiar with certain elements or working practices in the travel market. She said that better relationships between buyers and suppliers could improve the procedure.
There was broad agreement across the panel that RFPs don’t necessarily need to be carried out annually or at the same time each year. Jean Squires, director of business development at Lanyon concluded: “The RFP isn’t dead, but it is sick.”