Do you have a great idea for an adventure travel expedition, or do you want to develop the tourism appeal for your area? It's generally not enough to simply talk about your ideas; if you want to get funding or management approval, you usually have to describe your vision in writing.
That means you have to write a proposal. But don't worry if you've never written a proposal before - it's not as hard as it might sound, after you understand that all business proposals have a definite structure to follow for success.
Although individual sections will vary in content and length depending on the complexity of your proposed project and the types of information you need to supply, every good proposal should follow a standard four-part sequence:
- Reader-focused section
- Description of your proposal plan
- A section that explains your credibility and ability to fulfill your promises
First of all, consider who you have to sell your ideas to. In other words, who will read and judge your proposal? It's crucial to always keep your readers in mind; all good proposals are focused on the recipients, not on the party submitting the proposal.
So, let's start with the introduction section. The very first item the recipient should see when opening a proposal package is a Cover Letter - this is essentially an introduction to your proposal, so simply state who you are, why you're submitting this proposal now, state what you would like the reader to do after considering your proposal, and provide all the contact information the reader needs to follow up with questions or approval of your request.
Now for the proposal itself: create a Title Page. Name your proposal something straightforward and logical, like “Proposal for New England Fall Foliage Tour,” “Plan to Create a Tourism Bureau for Whatford County,” or “Using Our Town's History to Attract Tourists.” If your proposal is short, that may be all you need for an introduction section. But if your project is more complex, you may need to come back later and add a Table of Contents and an Executive Summary, which is basically a list of the most important points you make within your proposal.
Now for the reader-focused section. Consider the party to whom you are submitting this proposal - is this a town council? A potential business partner? A prospective client? The management team at a tour company? What do the readers want to know? What will their concerns be? Do they have a list of requirements to be met? In this section, you need to prove that you understand who you're pitching to and what their needs and desires are. Most important of all, you must explain how your proposal will benefit that party.
In this section, you will include pages like Needs and Benefits, and if you're answering a stated need or responding to an RFP, you might also need pages like Requirements, Budget, Schedule, Deadlines, and so forth. Keep in mind that in this section you are describing the needs of and the benefits to your potential partners, management, or investors, not your own goals and desires. A winning proposal should remain focused on the reader, not on the party proposing the project. If you are selling personal travel services to clients you can include topics such as What you Can Expect or It's All About You.
After this reader-focused section comes the section where you describe your proposal in detail and explain what it will cost. This will most likely be the longest section in your proposal, because it should contain all the topic pages you need to explain your ideas. Be sure to include all the details your reader will want to know.
Depending on your proposed project, you might have pages describing Services Offered, Products, Costs, Timeline, Venues, Facilities, Tours, Tourism, Destinations, Transportation, Strategic Relationships, Customers, and Advertising - the list is endless because your goal is to include all the topics you need to describe everything you propose to do, how you plan to do it, and what your expenses will be. You may need to include financial pages, such as a projected Return on Investment (ROI). As always, put yourself in your readers' position - what questions will they have? The more specific you are, the more likely your proposal is to persuade the readers that you have done your research, have a good plan, and can fulfill your promises.
In the last section of the proposal, you get a chance to brag about yourself. Here, your goal is to include all the information you have that will convince the reader that you are trustworthy and can carry out the plan you detailed in the previous section. At the very least, you'll want a Company History or About Us page that explains your background.
You can use pages like Experience, Projects, and Clients Served to show your experience with similar projects. You might want to explain any special Training or Credentials you have, or list your Staff or Team Members, and even add Resume or Biography pages. If you have Awards or Testimonials, you should include them, because it always adds credibility when you can show that others value your ideas and services.
After you have all the text written for your proposal, spend some time making your proposal visually appealing. Incorporate your company logo. Consider using colored borders, or selecting custom bullet points and fonts that match your business style. Learn how to effectively select colors for a winning business proposal.
That's it! Doesn't sound so hard, does it? But after you have all the words on paper, you still need to do two things before you send your proposal out: 1) proofread it carefully to ensure there are no grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes, and 2) inspect each page to make sure it looks neat and professional. You might want to add colored borders or special fonts or bullet points to add visual interest.
Want a head start on writing and formatting your proposal? Consider purchasing a dedicated product like Proposal Kit, which is specially designed for writing proposals. Proposal Kit includes all the topic pages mentioned above, as well as thousands of others you can use for any situation. Each topic page (or template) includes examples and suggestions about the information to include on that page, so you'll never be stuck looking at a blank screen and thinking “What goes here?”
The templates are professionally designed, so your proposal will look good, too. You can select from a variety of specialty design themes, or add your own business logo to personalize your pages. There are plenty of instructions for use, as well as helpful articles and tips on writing proposals. And to give you great ideas, every Proposal Kit package includes dozens of sample proposals, so you can see how a proposal similar to yours might look and what it might contain.
If you want help with assembling your proposal and creating a Table of Contents, you can use the included Wizard software program. You'll find that Proposal Kit is a great buy for writing proposals of all kinds, as well as reports and other general business documents.