Corporate Incentive Travel: How to Request Proposals

Corporate Incentive Travel: Requesting Proposals (RFPs)

by Anne Thornley-Brown M.B.A., President
Executive Oasis International

This post is inspired by what has been landing in our inbox as well as recent conversations with other incentive travel houses, team building providers and event planners.

The following scenario is becoming more and more common.

  • A member of staff sends an e-mail requesting an urgent quote
  • The information provided is at best sketchy.
  • When the prospective supplier responds and asks clarifying questions, may times the e-mail is never answered.
  • Early in the process it becomes clear that the person making the inquiry hasn’t got a clue about objectives, the purpose of the trip, budget, or what is to be included.
  • At other times, there is a delay and to expedite the process, we send out a short document with a couple of options and request feedback about which are of interest so that we can prepare a full proposal
  • Typically, there is no response or a reply that they are awaiting feedback. Feedback to obtain very basic information takes weeks or months. Often, it is never received

Once a proposal has been submitted it turns out that either:

  • the budget is significantly lower than what was indicated
  • no budget has ever been allocated
  • no authorization had ever been given for a trip and the person making the inquiry was just being “proactive” based on what happened last year

The initiative is scrapped or put on hold. Sometimes, the whole process is stalled at the starting gate. Basic information is never provided and the prospective client vanishes into the stratosphere. This scenario happens so often that suppliers have invented for the term “falling off the face of the earth”. It’s poor business etiquette and it reflects very badly on a company when employess display it.

I would be interested in some feedback as to what is going on in corporations that is creating this scenario.

  • Why are the employees who are tasked with obtaining quotes given only minimal information?
  • Why is there such a delay in providing even the most basic information?
  • Are companies no longer briefing employees about basic etiquette for dealing with prospective suppliers?

Since these scenarios are becoming more and more prevalent, I decided to prepare a guide to how and when to request proposals for incentive travel.

You’ll also have access to a free downloadable tool to assist you in pulling together the information needed when requesting quotes for sales incentive trips, team building, sales rallies, and other corporate events.

When to Request a Quote

It’s really quite simple. Request a quote when:

  • A member of the senior management team has given authorization for a sales incentive trip
  • A budget has been approved
  • The company is in a position to make a decision within 5 – 10 business days of receiving the quote
  • Alternatively, there is a clear and specific procurement process with definite timelines, checkpoints, and decision making criteria

Information Basics for Incentive Travel Quotes

I realize that some of the information we’re covering in this blog entry is very basic. Unfortunately, it may be basic but it no longer seems to be common practice. I’m not sure why and can only guess that maybe people are so overwhelmed with heavy workloads that they’re cutting corners. As a time saving tool and to assist you in pulling it all together, we’ve included a downloadable:

Free Incentive Travel RFP Planner[.DOC]

When requesting a quote, the following information is essential.

  • Group Size
  • Purpose of trip (i.e. strictly recreational to reward the team, combination of business and recreation)
  • Preferred dates (minimum of 3 options)
  • Preferred destinations (all of them)
  • Objectives/ Expected Outcomes
  • Is facilitated team building to be included? This will require 2 – 3 days plus an orientation.
  • Class of accommodation required (i.e. 4 star, 5 star, 6 star, 7 star
  • Double or single occupancy
  • Is the group open to a night of camping out?
  • Are tours required?
  • Is a gala or awards dinner required

In addition to this, it is also helpful to know what the company has done in the past so that there is no duplication in the proposed options.

RFP Best Practices: A Matter of Courtesy

Once a decision has been made it is extremely important to contact everyone who submitted a proposal to:

  • Inform them of the decision
  • Provide feedback about why they were not selected

It is never acceptable to just disappear. The provider must close the loop with all of the venues and suppliers they contacted on your behalf.


Once a company has gone through the time and trouble of preparing a proposal, expect to hear from them with updates about once a quarter. It is certainly not acceptable to delete e-mails without reading. If circumstances change and the company no longer requires incentive travel services, politely contact the service provider, inform them of the change in status and ask to be removed from the distribution list.

Dealing with prospective suppliers in a less than professional manner, reflects poorly on your company and will, over time, tarnish its image and hurt it’s reputation in the marketplace. When all is said and done, this all comes down to common sense and common courtesy. Unfortunately, these commodities don’t seem to be less and less common and that’s unfortunately.

For more information, also see:

Executive Oasis International is a Toronto based management consulting firm that offers incentive travel and team building retreats in Canada, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and the Caribbean.

Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Photo Credit: S.C. Asher

Photo Credit: Muffet


4 thoughts on “Corporate Incentive Travel: How to Request Proposals

  1. Hi Anne!

    That’s fantastic news!
    If you can email me on the address above I’d be delighted to add you as contributor to our blog!

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

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