Simplifying the RFP Process for Hotels and Meeting Planners
According to Meeting Planners International, the number of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) sent to hotels has increased by 300% over the last five years. On average, it takes a hotel salesperson about 20-30 minutes to reply to a single RFP and most hotels say they only convert 2-3% of electronically submitted RFPs. Now you may think with numbers like that why bother, just send some boilerplated information and get on with it. And, quite frankly that is precisely what many properties do.
But why are planners submitting so many RFP’s? Are they simply thinking that the more hotels they source, the better chance they will have in getting good response rates and more negotiating power? Unfortunately, that isn’t happening. Part of the issue stems from the fact that electronic RFP templates make it easy to submit to numerous properties at once. But sourcing too many hotels can clearly back fire. Hotels may look at the number of properties being sourced and decide their submission is not worth the time and energy invested to complete the RFP. For example, if a planner distributes an RFP to 50 hotels, the hotel may look at the percentages and figure they only have a one in fifty chance in getting the business.
While hotels may be argue that there are far too many properties being sourced to make a customized response worth their time, planners argue that they approach numerous properties in order to get thorough, timely, and competitive responses.
How can the RFP process be simplified so both parties get what they need? Here is a list of suggestions from both sides of the fence:
Respond quickly & personally
Pick up the phone and call in this age of Internet, email, and text, the personal touch has been left behind. Nothing beats a quick conversation to gain a better understanding of a group’s energy and needs. Plus, you may be able to buy yourself a bit more time when it comes to submitting your hotel’s response to an RFP. There have been numerous articles on the correlation between response time and making the short list. But, it will be hard to make that list if you haven’t addressed the specific concerns of a group.
Respond with detailed information
Give complete information, if budget is a huge concern then mention it and just what the parameters are. Don’t wait to see which property will give you the better deal. On the hotel side, take the time to actually read the entire RFP, rather than just give generic information, give specifics addressing a particular groups hot buttons.
Paint the Picture
Go beyond the facts, and get descriptive. On the meeting planner side, paint a picture your groups’ overall personality, what would they enjoy most doing, what would they shy away from, how do they interact with one another? On the hotel side, bring your property to life by walking a planner through the ‘experience’ groups would have at the hotel. Try looking at your property through fresh eyes. Think in terms of what you would want to experience if you were visiting for the first time.
Turn to a DMO
With the large volume of RFP’s hitting hotels, and meeting planners needing to get complete, timely information, how can the RFP process be simplified to work for both parties? Start by involving a Destination Marketing organization or DMO. The DMO works with the planner to determine a groups’ needs and can help narrow the field based on those requirements. DMO’s act basically as an extension of both a hotel sales team and a meeting planner team. Working a bit like an intermediary, DMO sales teams can offer objective hotel information to meeting planners because they have in-depth knowledge of the properties and their needs, and are aware of what may be going on in the destination that can affect a competitive, timely RFP response.
The DMO is the best first resource to work with when it comes to RFPs. In Newport Beach, CA the DMO is Visit Newport Beach. As local area experts, Visit Newport Beach opens the doors this coastal paradise with customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources that ease the planning process. Check out all that Newport Beach has in store for your group, and simplify the RFP process by connecting with Visit Newport Beach first.