Last time, part one of this series covered what a hotel request for proposal (RFP) is and what information to look for in RFPs that your hotel sales staff receives from event planners. There are times, however, when your staff will need to send out an RFP in response to a call for bids to host an event or send a timely response to RFPs sent from event planners. Part 2 covers how to respond to these in a professional manner.
There’s nothing worse than letting an RFP languish on your desk until the deadline is past; that means lost business and a guarantee that that event planner won’t come knocking again. Plus, event planners talk to other event planners at their industry conventions; you see the potential problem!
Before RFP season starts (typically in July or August), sit down with your sales staff and map out a specific procedure for handling requests so that nothing slips through the cracks. It’s a good idea for one person to receive all requests, write the responses, and have them approved by you (the manager/owner) before they are sent back. Come up with a spreadsheet or other system, such as contact management software, to track incoming RFPs and your responses.
Tracking which event planners send RFPs from year to year is a good idea. For example, if you notice that Planner X sent you an RFP the last three years but not this year, there could have been a personnel change, and the new planner may not be familiar with your facility.
Most importantly, set a goal for a turnaround time that guarantees your response will be quick and accurate.
If an event planner contacts your hotel in writing, don’t assume it’s an open invitation for you to call with a verbal sales pitch; it’s a waste of the time the RFP is designed to save. If you have questions specifically related to a RFP sent for you, it’s all right to email or call someone other than the main decision maker for a clarification. It’s also good form to email simply to confirm that your response was received, and if so, ask if any additional information is needed.
Know Your Competition
Make a note of the events similar hotels in your area regularly host. Even not-so-similar hotels’ events are worth noting. For example, if you receive an RFP for a meeting or convention that isn’t right for your hotel, it won’t hurt to give a non-competing facility (or a sister facility, if you’re part of a group) the heads-up on the opportunity.
Ignoring Isn’t Bliss
When you receive an RFP for an event you are sure isn’t a good match for your facility, don’t simply ignore it. Always, always, always send a response, even if you think you won’t get the business. What if the client who didn’t pick you last year had a bad experience elsewhere, and is looking for a new venue?
In addition, a surprising number of hotels assume that because they’ve hosted a certain yearly event in the past, they don’t need to respond to an RFP for the same event this year. See above about personnel changes – the person distributing RFPs this year may be different from last year, and know nothing about your hotel.
What’s In It?
Whether your hotel sales staff develops its own proposal to send out, or receives an RFP from an event planner, the information you’re sending out is going to be about the same. Therefore, in order to send a timely response to planners’ RFPs, your hotel staff should have this list of information at their fingertips:
- Hotel overview
– Mission statement
– Facility (or facilities, if there’s more than one) locations
– Key contact information
- A sample guest room contract
- Meeting space details – number of rooms, size, equipment provided
- Exhibit space details – number of spaces, size, features
- Ballroom(s) size and features
- Ceiling heights for all meeting, exhibit, and ballroom spaces
- Distance of the hotel from the nearest convention center, restaurants, attractions
- Food and beverage options available, the cost of packages plus tax
- Banquet services provided, cost plus tax
- Audio/visual equipment provided, fee (if any) for A/V services
- Whether the client can bring their own A/V equipment and personnel, and if there’s a fee for this convenience
- Wi-Fi service provided (indicate whether it’s high speed and if it’s available in the meeting rooms)
- Video conferencing service
- Types of payment accepted, such as corporate credit cards
- If day meeting services provided, include this information as well
- Special room rates available, including whether a complimentary room will be provided for every X number of rooms booked
Next time, we’ll cover electronic RFPs, and the types of letters that should accompany them, whether online or in print.
Let us help you make your hotel requests for proposals look as professional as possible. Contact Smart eHotels™ today!