In 2020, we conducted an extensive double-blind research study on the needs and preferences of event professionals.
NB: This is an article from Groups360
One of the most common frustrations among meeting planners was the lack of timely responses to their RFPs. Every RFP represents a planner. Here’s another way of looking at the industry’s low response rates: For every 100 planners who ask a hotel for information, 55 of them are left hanging.
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If a planner has to chase you down—and not many of them will—you’re hurting your reputation and reducing the chance this planner will source your hotel in the future.
Coming in a close second among planner frustrations was the lack of information in the rfp responses they did receive. Among the hotels that submit a proposal, they often don’t take the time to address the planner’s specific questions. Without enough information, the planner can’t make an informed decision.
It’s just as frustrating for hoteliers to lob emails back and forth with customers over every detail. You can streamline your communications by paying attention to attachments and answering the RFP with meaningful details at the outset.
A bit more investment on the front end will save you time in the long run and increase your chances that the planner will award the bid to your hotel.
Respond to every lead. Take a moment to properly evaluate planners’ requests and provide the requested information. You will greatly increase your hotel’s visibility on a planner’s list of possible hotels.
The real difference between ‘no’ and ‘maybe’
‘NO’ IS AN ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE
If you’re interested in a planner’s piece of business, propose. If you’re not interested, decline. It’s common courtesy to thank a planner for the opportunity, even if you can’t accommodate their group.
No is a helpful response. Planners are waiting to hear from you. Turning down the business helps them move on to those who can. They’ll cross you off their list for now, but not forever, because you were considerate enough to reply to their RFP.
No is also the easiest response. Make sure your no is an honest no, and not simply the easy way out of a more thorough proposal.
‘MAYBE’ CAN START A SALES DIALOG
If you can’t accommodate a group over the planner’s specific dates, suggest an alternative timeframe. Remember that this person has received very few responses from other hotels. They may be willing to make adjustments to have your hotel host their program.
You may have to give a hard no to a planner who needs 10,000 square feet of meeting space but your hotel only has 5,000. But if you have 8,000 square feet, you have room to negotiate.
A fruitful alternative to no is maybe.
Same goes for a planner who may be asking for more space than is reasonable given the room block. You might be inclined to turn it down. But she may be especially interested in your hotel and open to adjustments to make it work for the both of you.
Whenever possible, let your no be maybe – a starting point for negotiations on space, rates and other revenue-generating pieces of the program.
BE STRATEGIC IN YOUR RFP RESPONSES
You may be staying busy and filling the books, but are you booking the right business?
Sales managers have the responsibility to ensure that the most advantageous pieces of business are getting prioritized. The best sales leaders take a strategic and analytical approach to evaluating leads and booking group business, and they train their people to do the same.
Here’s an extreme example of this principle. We worked with a client who had a program that would have bought out an entire hotel, not to mention all the revenue from food and beverage, equipment and other ancillary revenue.
While negotiations were underway, however, the hotel sold two small room blocks to other customers over the same set of dates. What’s worse – they wouldn’t correct this astronomically expensive mistake.
If you’re responding to every lead you receive – even those across the same set of dates – you have the opportunity to choose among those you win which one most benefits your hotel.
REVENUE MANAGEMENT IS CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF THE HOTEL
Revenue management brings the much-needed analytical eye to competing pieces of business. Is one more valuable than the other? Do the arrival and departure dates allow for additional business on the front end and back end?
Let’s say you have two groups looking to book over the same set of dates. One is a corporation for 500 room nights, while the other is an association for 1,000. At first glance, 1,000 room nights looks like the better choice.
Meanwhile, the value of the corporate program is $1 million, while the association is $750,000. Not to mention that a property that large could easily fit two of those kinds of corporate groups at the same time. You still bid on both, but when it comes time to choose, there’s a clear winner.
The time it takes to have a business review meeting and evaluate these kinds of outcomes is more than worth it in the long run.