Inspired Incentives

Fulfillment Partner vs. Strategic Partner

Posted by Kate Cardoso

Fri, Jun 23, 2017 @ 10:44 AM


Fulfillment Partner vs. Strategic Partner

There are plenty of decent fulfillment partners out there for your meeting/event/group incentive travel needs. A fulfillment partner provides support and executes based on the specific instructions you provide. Those instructions might include the following:

  • Book 100 rooms for the nights of April 3 – 7
  • Find a buffet menu for 200 people for $150 or less
  • Book airport transportation for all attendees

If you have an experienced internal events team, this fulfillment model might work well for your organization, and be less expensive than hiring a more strategic meeting/event/group incentive travel partner. If not, you should really consider hiring a partner that’s going to strategically look at your requests and provide feedback/recommendations. For example, a strategic partner might respond to the same instructions with the following questions:

  • Book 100 rooms for the nights of April 3 – 7
    • We checked with the hotels that met your criteria and the nightly rate is $20 less if you do April 2 – 6.
    • There’s a city-wide convention over those dates, so flights may be limited /more expensive.
    • How many suites and how many staff rooms do you need?
    • Do you want to book and pre/post extension rooms?
  • Find a buffet menu for 200 people for $150 or less
    • At this hotel, plated menus are actually less expensive. Is that an option?
    • Does that $150 need to include a reception with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails?
  • Book airport transportation for all attendees
    • It would be less expensive to do a shuttle to the airport on the group departure day – departing every hour. Would you consider that?
    • Do you want porterage available for attendees at the airport?
    • Do you want bottled water and/or cold towels in the vehicles?

If you’re paying for meeting/event/incentive group travel support, you might as well be getting the experienced and strategic insight of the vendor providing those services. You should be able to get a lot more out of a strategic partner without much of a price difference.

It might be hard to figure out in an RFP situation which company will be more of a fulfillment partner vs strategic partner. Some things to look for:

  • Do they ask a lot of questions? Asking questions means they want to really understand what you’re trying to do.
  • Do they provide advice/recommendations in the RFP stage? A strategic partner shouldn’t be afraid to provide free advice – even if they aren’t sure of winning the business.

So, are you working with a fulfillment partner or a strategic partner? It might be time to ask yourself (and your vendor!) that question.

Read HMI's Group Incentive Travel Success Story

Topics: Group Incentive Travel, Outsourcing

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