Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A New Direction for RDL?

As independent meeting planners, we are all wondering “where is all the money that used to go into meetings and conferences?” More state agencies are doing meetings in-house and, even in the private sector, companies are cutting back on the number of trainings and events that they are doing. So is anyone still doing meetings…?

I recently spent three days in an intensive training on how to find opportunities to work with the one sector that seems to have money to spend – the Federal Government. Not having done much work with the Federal Government before, there was a lot to learn! Once we learned how to navigate the government websites and received the correct codes and labels, we began searching for agencies looking for meeting planning services. To our surprise (and great pleasure), several opportunities have already come up in the short time we have been searching. They are still doing meetings and hiring meeting planners to do them!

We’ve also learned that the government expects you to do a lot of work before you can even submit your bid – and that work has to take place in a very short amount of time. Unlike most of our clients, where fees and event costs are separate, the entire cost of a federal event is included in the bid and if you underbid, then you pay the difference. This means we do a great deal of research, gathering numbers, looking for available meeting sites, hotels, etc. prior to putting the proposal together. Most of the time, writing up the scope of work for the bid is the easy part.

We have not yet had any success in this new endeavor but we are looking forward to beginning work with the Federal Government and expanding into this new arena. Though taking RDL in this “new” direction could certainly change our business to some extent, our core services will remain unchanged. And, no matter what new path we follow, we will always be meeting planners.

- Linda R. Begbie, Executive Director & Meeting Planner