Request for Proposal
Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau
October 27, 2017
The Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau, a department of the Town of Abingdon, wishes to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development and implementation of a website dedicated to tourism promotion.
The Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) is issuing this Request for Proposal to individuals and firms interested in providing website design and development to replace the existing tourism website VisitAbingdonVirginia.com.
This website is one of the ACVB’s key marketing tools to entice tourists to visit Abingdon, VA, and should contain a mix of inspirational and informational content. The website will primarily serve leisure travelers, but will also assist group travel leaders (motorcoach and SMERF) and small meeting planners.
The ACVB is seeking a new website that is optimized for mobile, visually enticing, offers an intuitive user experience, and prioritizes authentic storytelling.
Who we are
As the official DMO for Abingdon, VA, The Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) promotes visitation to the town under the name Visit Abingdon Virginia.
The ACVB is a division of the Town of Abingdon government, and is funded by annual tax revenue through the general fund. The ACVB is led by the Director of Tourism, and its marketing strategy is implemented by a Marketing Manager.
Abingdon is best known as the home of Barter Theatre, a historic theatre whose stage has been graced by Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal and dozens of other show business luminaries. A 2012 visitor research study shows that the most visited attraction in Abingdon is Barter Theatre, followed closely by The Virginia Creeper Trail (a 34-mile rail-to-trail project popular with bikers and hikers). The Martha Washington Hotel & Spa and the 20-block historic downtown shopping district round out the top four tourism drivers.
With this knowledge, the ACVB implemented a new brand strategy in 2013, emphasizing the many ways for visitors to play while in town. Sometimes the play takes place on stage at Barter Theatre; other times visitors enjoy playing in the great outdoors. For those whose idea of play time includes shopping, nightlife or live music, fun is always on tap in Abingdon’s vibrant downtown district.
A series of successful advertising campaigns used the messaging “It’s Always Play Time in Abingdon.” In 2016, the ACVB expanded and refreshed its campaign to remind visitors to “Never Stop Playing.” The ACVB plans to continue the current advertising campaign through the 2018-2019 fiscal year. However, the ACVB is seeking a website design that captures the playful spirit of Abingdon’s brand, while not being tied to a specific tag line or campaign.
Abingdon has a strong existing tourism program, and a positive reputation with visitors. Abingdon frequently ranks highly in listings of small towns to visit in national publications like Budget Travel Magazine, Southern Living, and Garden and Gun Magazine.
A recent study by Virginia Tourism Corporation reported over $103 million in visitor spending in 2016 for Washington County (Abingdon is the largest community in the county, and would account for the bulk of that spending).
Abingdon’s strengths include popular, high-profile tourism attractions, a stable tourism marketing budget, and geographic proximity to major metropolitan areas and Interstate 81. Primary threats are an overall economic and population decline in southern Appalachia, as well as increased competition from similar small towns within our 5-hour drive market.
The 2012 Abingdon Travel Market Research Study has identified the typical visitor to Abingdon as well educated, averaging 35-55 years of age, and traveling primarily as an adults-only couple. Abingdon is primarily a driver market, with the majority of visitors coming from a 3-5 hour drive radius, from metro areas in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. Barter Theatre’s typical visitor skews slightly older and more female than that average, while the Virginia Creeper Trail visitor skews slightly younger. Abingdon’s marketing strategy has primarily targeted Baby Boomer couples, but in the past two years, we have expanded our campaigns to reach Gen Xers and older Millennials interested in outdoor recreation.
Abingdon’s current website launched in 2013 along with the implementation of the “Play Time” campaign. Since then, Abingdon has seen a 118 % increase in website visitors. Mobile users now make up 55% of total website visitors, making it urgent that the site be optimized for the mobile experience.
The ACVB’s success is measured by hotel occupancy and ADR within the town limits of Abingdon, and, ultimately, by meals and lodging tax paid to the Town of Abingdon.
In the next three to five years, the ACVB’s goal is to increase occupancy during shoulder seasons and off-peak nights by implementing these strategies
- Increase the average length of stay by leveraging regional tourism assets. In other words, making Abingdon the hub for regional hub and spoke travel.
- See greater market saturation in our key drive markets (3-5 hour drive radius) through more efficient targeted advertising, content marketing, and traditional public relations.
- Work with partners to develop new tourism product including outdoor recreation, culinary and live music.
Preliminary Scope of Work and Timeline
The following provides only a preliminary scope of our expectations. The contracted vendor will design the visual identity and user experience for a new tourism website. The website will primarily serve a) individual leisure travelers as well as b) group travel leaders (motorcoach and SMERF) and c) small meeting planners.
Content will include blog articles, itineraries, video, photography, listings and events, all seamlessly integrated in to a visually pleasing experience that puts storytelling first. We are seeking to erase the distinction between our website and blog, and categorize our content in ways that users will find helpful and intuitive.
The ACVB will provide its existing library of content to populate the website, but will need assistance with copywriting as appropriate.
The website should be fully optimized for mobile platforms, and include a content management system easily modified by Town staff for content changes.
The website will retain the VisitAbingdonVirginia.com URL, and the ACVB will provide for website hosting.
The following is a preliminary timeline for the project:
October 2017: RFP issued
December 15, 2017: Deadline for proposals
January and February 2018: Review of proposals
March 15, 2018: Notification of finalists
March and April 2018: Interviews with finalists
May 1, 2018: Final decision
May – November 2018: design and completion of website
- Design and build a website that highlights the many ways to play in Abingdon, prioritizing visual content and storytelling.
- ACVB will provide existing content libraries in the form of downloadable photo and video files. Vendor will need to assist with porting over existing blog content and supplementing with new copy as dictated by the site design.
- Site will be optimized for the mobile user
- Design a template for all pages within the site, easily updated by ACVB staff. This template must be consistent, professional and innovative.
- Design should be ADA and Section 504 compliant
- Provide opportunities for conversion, including email newsletter sign up, brochure request (mailed), brochure request (digital) and a referral or booking agent for lodging (can be 3rd party)
- Integrate blog content and itineraries in to the site, searchable by type of experience, type of visitor (visitor profile), seasonality and any other criteria the vendor feels adds value.
- Include tourism listings for events, lodging, attractions, dining, and shopping.
- Integrate user generated content (can be 3rd party vendor)
- Set up Google Analytics
- Training: Vendor must provide one on-site training session for the CMS, and one year of technical support.
- Export Capabilities: Any information collected via a form through the website, must be able to be exported to .csv of Excel file without necessary vendor involvement.
- Export: The CMS must allow data collected in forms to be exported into .CSV or Excel format.
- Best Practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be observed in the website coding. This includes the use of descriptive title and meta tags to increase the website’s visibility.
The selection of a proposal will be at the sole judgment of the Director of Tourism. Proposals will be reviewed by an advisory committee made up of full time ACVB staff and key tourism partners. Only those respondents who meet the following qualifications will be considered:
- Respondent must submit a timeline of work to be completed and the anticipated date of completion. Key responsibilities of the Town shall also be specified in the work plan.
- Respondent must include the names and brief bios of staff members who will be involved in the project
- Respondent must submit with their proposal a portfolio of past work. This portfolio may be either paper or online. In the case of an online portfolio, please include a hyperlink.
- Respondent’s portfolio must contain a minimum of 5 pertinent
- Respondent must provide at least 2 references that can be contacted and asked about the quality of past products and services.
The maximum budget for this project is $50,000.
Proposal should include a total not-to-exceed contract proposal amount. Please be very explicit in listing and describing any services or items not covered in the proposal fee amount. Proposal fee should be broken down to include major fee categories.
Upon selection, final contract amount will be subject to negotiation to determine exact scope of services to be provided and final contract fee amount and a contract outlining all relevant terms shall be executed by both parties. Selection does not guarantee award of the contract. In the event the contractor and the town fail to agree to a contract, the Town will choose from remaining respondents or put out another Request for Proposals.
Assumptions & Agreements
- Participating vendors may be asked to present their plans and proposed detail schedule to the review panel.
- All costs associated with the preparation and presentation of the proposal shall be borne by the participating vendors.
- Proposals and accompanying documentation shall not be returned.
- Proposals shall be considered final as submitted and may not be altered unless requested by the review panel.
- Proposals shall be accompanied by at least two references that can speak to similar projects in scale and scope.
Proposals should be received at the address below before 12:00 P.M. CST on December 15, 2017. Late proposals will not be accepted. Proposals should be hand delivered or mailed. Emailed or faxed proposals will not be accepted. Respondents are to submit all materials together in a sealed packet and clearly mark on the outside of the package their company name and “Website Proposal.” Proposals should be sent in triplicate (3 hard copies and 3 CDs or DVDs) and should include the following:
- Timeline with expected completion date and key steps
- Names and bios of key staff members
- Portfolio Sample (may include link)
- 2 Reference Contacts
- Fee and fee breakdown
Mail or deliver to:
Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau
Attn. Jayne Duehring
335 Cummings Street
Abingdon, VA 24210
Terms & Conditions
- A COVER LETTER shall be included as part of the proposal that states the name(s) of the person(s) authorized to represent the contractor in any negotiations, the name(s) of the person(s) authorized to sign any contract that may result, the contact person’s name, mailing or street addresses, phone and fax numbers and email addresses. A legal representative of the successful firm, authorized to bind the firm in contractual matters should sign the Cover Letter and the Proposal.
- LATE PROPOSALS: Proposal responses received after the scheduled closing time for filing will be returned to the respondent unopened. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure their proposal is submitted in the proper form and in accordance with the time, date, and location specified in the RFP.
- CANCELLATION: The Town of Abingdon reserves the right to modify, revise, or cancel this RFP. Receipt and evaluation of proposals or the completion of interviews do not obligate the Town to award a contract.
- REJECTION OF PROPOSALS: The Town reserves the right to reject any or all responses to the Request for Proposal if found in the Town’s best interest to do so.
- ORAL INSTRUCTIONS: Oral instructions or information concerning the RFP documents or the project given out by officers, employees, or agents of the Town to prospective bidders shall not bind the Town. Any changes or revisions to the specifications shall be binding only if issued in writing by the Town by addendum. The Town reserves the right to officially amend or cancel an RFP after issuance.
- The Town of Abingdon shall own, have full access to and retain the right to customize site software code after implementation, as required.
The selection of a proposal will be at the sole judgment of the Abingdon CVB and the Town of Abingdon. The ACVB will consider all parts of the proposal collectively, but place an emphasis on design, prior experience, and cost in the selection process.
The selection process may include an interview session. The ACVB will select the respondent that in the sole judgment of the town best satisfies the requirements in the RFP and the expectations of the town and can do so at the best value to the town. Selection may not be the proposal with the lowest cost. Respondents may not contest for any reason the selection of the town.
Selection does not guarantee a contract. After selection, the Contractor and town will discuss and agree on final scope of work and final contract amount and terms of the Contract. If the Contractor and town fail to reach an agreement, the town is free to select from remaining available respondents, cancel the RFP, or issue an additional Request for Proposals.
For reference: Web and Social Channels
Primary tourism website: http://visitabingdonvirginia.com/
Other websites maintained by the ACVB: https://www.abingdonmusicexperience.com/
Social media channels: Facebook – /vacreepertrail
YouTube: Abingdon Virginia