Hotel RFP: Want to Make it Stand Out? Take the Inside Track

Downloading a hotel RFP (request for proposal) template from the web is super easy. (Here’s a good example.) This saves a lot of time, especially if you’re sending and tracking RFP submissions to multiple hotels.


Keep in mind, though, that meeting planners just like you are downloading and using the same templates. Do you really want to squash your business or organization into the same, cookie-cutter mold as everyone else?


With a few tweaks, you can customize and localize your RFP so yours will wind up at the top of hotel’s short-list piles.


Localize it

Local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) are more than happy to work with you and help customize your RFP for a specific destination. This can show hotel managers you’ve taken the time to understand why their particular hotel venue is a suitable fit for your event. CVBs can also provide a general idea of high and low seasonal room rates.


If you’ve been in touch with a local CVB contact, he or she may even pitch your event to a hotel on your behalf since CVBs work directly with local hotels. This is networking at its finest. In addition, a knowledgeable local contact at the CVB can often answer questions you might have about specific hotels, saving everyone time and preventing you from worrying over little details.


Beefing up your knowledge of the hotel facility’s locale can also help when you’re planning event activities. Is it in a region known for its wineries? Plan a tasting for an after-hours social mixer. Is it in an area where outdoor activities are popular? Get creative with team-building exercises. If meeting attendees will be bringing spouses and children, then seek out a hotel facility near family-oriented attractions.


Convention and visitors bureaus can be your key to the inside track on landing the perfect hotel venue for your business meeting or event.


How Smart eHotels™ Can Help

These tips can go both ways—whether you’re a meeting planner looking for a hotel venue, or a hotel letting meeting planners know your facility is available. If you manage a hotel and want to put your hotel RFP submission on meeting planners’ short lists, we can help. Contact us today.

RFP Solutions: Resolve to Plug Into the RFP Process

Even though the year is new and winter snow is still falling, it’s not too early to prepare for when the majority of hotel RFPs (requests for proposal) start pouring in. RFP “season”—the period when most of the RFPs for the following year are generated—starts in mid to late summer and runs into early fall. Since the best RFP solutions involve early preparation, starting now will improve your chances of landing a healthy share of business conferences and meetings.


Solution #1: Realize the Ball(room) Is in Your Court

If your hotel is part of a larger chain or international brand, don’t assume there’s a corporate sales team standing ready to funnel RFPs in your direction. In general, they’re thinking globally, not locally or even regionally like you are. It’s up to you to reach out to businesses in your region and put your hotel on their short list.


Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a corporate-level staff working with you, remember that they don’t know your hotel’s capabilities as well as you. They may think they’re doing you a favor by screening out RFPs that aren’t an exact fit for your facility, when in reality, you could find ways to make them work. Avoid this by keeping the lines of communication open.


Solution #2: Hone Your Competitive Edge

Knowing your competitors’ biggest meeting clients can be as simple as keeping an eye on their front-yard marquee or the “what’s new” page of their web site. If you think your hotel can host an event better, let those businesses know what your facility has to offer, and do it well before the RFP season starts. If nothing else, the possibility to network is worth the effort.


Solution #3: Pick up Loose Ends

Another one of the RFP solutions you may not have considered is contact management software. If you noticed a business that’s regularly sent you RFPs didn’t send one last year, now is the time to pick up the phone or send an email to touch base. Perhaps there was a change in personnel, and the new meeting planner is starting from scratch. Make sure you put your hotel back on their distribution list.


Solution #4: Tap Into Consortia

Travel agencies often work together to market to and meet the massive travel needs of large corporations and government entities. Hotels can tap into this source of potential RFPs. Even if you have to pay a fee to gain access to these potential clients, the increase in exposure can be worth it.


Solution #5: Review Last Year’s RFP Results

Which of last year’s RFP responses didn’t result in a booking? Do you know why? Make a friendly call to the meeting planner to find out where your facility—or just the RFP—fell short. Ask what information is needed to get your hotel shortlisted the next time around. Showing that you care can prevent your hotel from getting dropped from a hotel’s RFP distribution list.


Solution #6: Simplify from the Start

No matter how great your RFP solutions, the repetitive submission/consideration/acceptance process, year after year, can start feeling like a grind. Give yourself and your clients a break that benefits you both. Offer a multi-year contract to book their conferences and meetings at your hotel. You’ll have that business on your books, and they’ll no longer need to spend time and resources searching for a new venue each year.


The downside to this solution: Hotel rates are difficult to predict from year to year, much less vendor costs for putting on a big meeting or conference. While this approach may work for some clients, it’s not a panacea.


Solution #7: Focus on the Off-Season

Worried that your hotel is getting lost in the crush of July-September RFP submission season? Get a jump on the competition and start making contact with your potential clients a few months early.


Solution #8: Know What Clients Want

“What does this client want?” is the million-dollar question, right? These days, meeting planners choose hotel venues based on more than just the cost for rooms, facilities, and food. More and more want to know things like your hotel’s carbon footprint, locally sourced food options, and if you serve only fair-trade coffee. See the solution above about reviewing the reasons why your hotel didn’t make the grade during last year’s round of RFPs. If you notice a trend, pay attention.


If you’re ramping up for RFP season, Smart eHotels has your RFP solutions! Contact us today.

The Matrix: Navigating the World of Hotel RFP Compliance

A hotel RFP (request for proposal), when done well, looks seamless and effortless. If not done well—if it’s chunky, clunky, poorly organized, or has missing pieces—it’s on its way to the reject pile before your potential client plows halfway through it.

How do you avoid wasting valuable time and effort? The solution is to use a hotel RFP compliance matrix. This is a convenient list an evaluator can use to quickly and easily confirm that every requirement checkbox has been ticked.


Where to Start?

Before you write the hotel RFP is when the compliance matrix should be implemented.

  • First, pick apart the RFP to pinpoint every single requirement. It’s best to do this the old-fashioned way—with human eyes. There’s software out there that claims it can “shred” an RFP for you, but like the spell check tool, it’ll pick up things that aren’t important while ignoring make-or-break information.
  • The matrix should exactly match the structure of the RFP. Don’t make the evaluator hunt for information. It’s like building a good web site. The more the client has to search for a fact, the higher the frustration level and the more likely your proposal will hit the circular file.
  • What does a compliance matrix look like? In general, it looks like a simple table with columns, rows, and a header row to label the columns. Placed at or near the beginning of the document, each column details the RFP section, the stated requirement, and exactly where in the document your response can be found. For good measure, add a final column that summarizes your plan to fulfill each requirement. The evaluator will appreciate that you value his or her time as much as your own.

In the end, every page of your hotel RFP response is an opportunity to sell your facility. It can raise your hotel’s visibility without costing a dime in advertising. Make it clean, pressed, and tidy, just like you’d wear your best tie or your power heels to a sales meeting. Presentation can make all the difference.


For Further Assistance

Smart eHotels can help transform your hotel RFPs from zeroes to heroes. Contact us today!

RFP Solutions: What’s New in RFP Management Software

Managing incoming and outgoing RFPs, or requests for proposals, can create a logistical nightmare for hotel event managers. However, with good software RFP solutions designed to handle proposals—both the ones you’re sending to event managers and the ones they’re shooting over to you—you’ll save a lot of time, not to mention your sanity.

According to Capterra, the following are the top ten proposal management software products trending right now.


Hotel managers must compete with other hotels for desirable events. XaitPorter helps you manage proposals that can be constructed from dozens—or hundreds—of electronic files. This solution lets multiple team members work on the same RFP from multiple locations. The latest and greatest content is easy to find, so there are no frantic, last-minute scrambles to figure out what’s accurate or to find a key team member for clarifications. XaitPorter will take care of the finer points of formatting so you can focus on the content.

Paperless Proposal

A Web-based software package (which means you don’t have to download anything to your hard drive or servers), Paperless Proposal has templates that let you create a professional RFP in minutes. This software allows for more elaborate RFPs, with the ability to attach text documents, videos, and other multimedia bells and whistles. You can also include RFP solutions that let the recipient try on different pricing packages.


Built on the foundation of a powerful search engine, RFP365 helps you assign and easily manage tasks, due dates, and team resources (even if that team consists of only you). If you need data that’s stored in an external document such as Word or Excel, you can import it into your project. Plus, RFP365 includes a compliance matrix that helps you quickly triage incoming proposals into prioritized “piles” and ensure your outgoing proposal addresses all the potential client’s requests.


Another Web-based product, Loopio boasts a simple, intuitive user interface that “learns” over time what data is most important to you and where to find it in your library. The free online demo shows you how Loopio works in a team environment and how it provides RFP solutions such as workflow management tools, charting capability, and a content repository.


From brainstorming to the final bid, Privia is specifically designed to integrate multiple workflows, allowing you to keep everything straight as bids come in and proposals go out. Privia’s proposal experts have your back with an array of professional services at your fingertips.


In addition to its many collaborative and organizational tools, VisibleThread can help spot unintentional wording mistakes that could cause you to lose a lucrative hotel event you could have easily landed.


ClientSky is an RFP chameleon. Once you electronically submit your hotel’s RFP, the prospective client can view it on whatever device they happen to have at the time—a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop—and it’ll still look sleek, professional, and properly formatted. The software will also send you notifications when the client opens and reads the RFP.

iQuote Xpress

This software package specializes in pulling accurate quotes from a user-created catalog of products and services, making it easy to quickly put together a mistake-free RFP. iQuote Xpress is also capable of including your custom marketing materials and legal documents with just a click or two.

Swinging from RFP tree to RFP tree since 2006,’s strength is its automatic formatting capabilities. Web-based collaborative workspace and shared content storage round out the software package.


SharePoint is the underpinning for InnovaRFP, a highly adaptable RFP management tool that works seamlessly with Microsoft Office products.

If you’re searching for RFP solutions, let become a valued member of your hotel requests for proposals team. Contact us today!

Effective RFP Solutions: Mining Social Media

How do you get the word out about your hotel’s business meeting and conference facilities? Well, you can do it the old-fashioned way, sending hard copy letters or carefully crafted emails to individual meeting planners. However, why wade through this laborious process when you can find meeting planners where they like to hang out in groups—social media? RFP solutions like this one can save you precious time and energy.

How to Begin

To mine social media for leads, your best bet is the “big three”: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Many business meeting planners belong to a professional organization or two, and the majority of these organizations can be found on the above-listed social media sites. Here are a few:

For another excellent resource, consider special-interest event planning organizations, like the International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals. This organization’s Facebook group publicly lists its members complete with photos, titles, and links to each individual’s Facebook page.

In addition, if you visit any of the above organizations’ Twitter pages, you can view a list of their followers, many who are business meeting planners looking for places to send RFPs for their next big event.

Navigating LinkedIn

Finding meeting and event planners on LinkedIn can be a bit trickier, but with the help of Google, you can cut through the maze. Developing contacts through LinkedIn requires that you set up a LinkedIn account, but even if you opt for the free version, it’s still a useful resource if you know how to use it.

Simply Google “meeting planners linkedin” to get started. From there, you can refine your search to pinpoint the exact type of industries you wish to target. Some of the most popular meeting planner groups on LinkedIn include:

With a relatively small amount of time and effort, you can be well on your way to building a list of meeting professionals who are actively looking for business event venues like those at your hotel. Contact our RFP solutions team to discover how can help.

6 Hotel RFP Solutions: How to Catch a Meeting Planner’s Eye

For every hotel request for proposal (RFP) that hits your inbox, there’s a harried meeting or event planner on the other end who’s tasked with sorting through the responses. Help your RFP stand out from the pack with the following RFP solutions.

RFP Solution #1: Get Digitally Interactive

Don’t let your content just sit there. Beef up your web site with both SEO-friendly copy and features that engage visitors. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Virtual Tour—This can be as simple as picking up your camera to do a video walk-through, or as sophisticated as hiring a videographer and web designer to create an interactive virtual tour that lets customers decide where to go. Develop your virtual tour with an eye toward features that interest meeting planners—such as meeting room choices, high-tech extras, business centers, food service, on-site amenities, and nearby attractions and restaurants.
  • Surveys—Want to know what meeting planners are seeking? Ask them! Most people are happy to give an opinion when asked, and you can make it easy by asking in the form of multiple choice, clickable survey questions.
  • Exclusive Web Site Promotions—Reward meeting planners who visit your web site with promotions and deals they can’t get elsewhere.

RFP Solution #2: Hone Your RFP Response Time

All business meeting planners have one thing in common: they’re under deadline pressure. Don’t let RFPs, either paper or digital, languish in a pile waiting for your response. Quickly review each one and prioritize them based on the planners’ deadlines, not yours. Responding promptly—and addressing specific questions clearly and concisely—tells planners you take their needs seriously.

In addition, if you’re using an electronic request for proposal (eRFP) network, adjust your settings so you’re notified immediately when an RFP hits your account. Once-a-week batch notifications won’t cut it.

RFP Solution #3: Focus on ‘Clearly and Concisely’

If a meeting planner asked about the availability and features of a fitness center, remember that they didn’t ask about playgrounds, pools, or pet-friendly facilities. Don’t pile on unnecessary, extra information. On the other hand, if you can provide useful information that the planner didn’t think to ask that is relevant to the RFP, don’t hesitate to include it.

You can also add useful information without cluttering up your RFP response by including it in the form of attachments. You might cover topics such as FAQs, facility and area maps, typical food/beverage requirements for similarly sized events, detailed photographs of the venue, table and equipment layout options, and even press releases and comments from satisfied customers.

RFP Solution #4: Negotiate with a Smile

If you’re reading through an RFP (and you should read them in their entirety) and notice a long list of demands for concessions on your part, don’t assume the meeting planner isn’t open to negotiation. Contact the planner and show that you’re willing to make an effort to address the wish list. Even if you end up not having the lowest price, you’ll leave the impression that service is your number one priority.

RFP Solution #5: When Rejected, Regroup

“No” doesn’t always mean no. It might mean “not yet.” Take a look at the RFPs for clients who went elsewhere. Do they all have something in common? Follow up via email or a phone call in a friendly, professional manner to find out the top reasons meeting planners didn’t choose to hold their meeting or event at your hotel. For example, if one planner out of a hundred said your prices were too expensive, that’s probably not a high priority for you to look into changing. However, if 20% had something to say about your prices, then it’s time to start evaluating your price structure.

RFP Solution #6: Pre-Enter Details

Giving each RFP individual attention doesn’t mean you have to spend long hours laboring over your responses. eRFP systems are often equipped with ways to provide meeting planners with pre-determined information without your having to hand-enter it over and over again. Pre-entering details like venue size, room dimensions, costs, tax details, and more will free up the time needed to provide the customized attention meeting planners crave.

If you need help with additional RFP solutions, contact today. Our RFP Solutions Team can help manage your RFP program.


Hotel RFP Software Improves RFP Response

The invention of hotel RFP software (request for proposal) has revolutionized hotel business meeting planning. If it seems like every business and organization is suddenly shooting RFPs to your inbox, it’s probably because they are!

Quantity – yes. Quality? Hmmm…

While hotel RFP software has increased the number of proposals you’re receiving, what it hasn’t done is magically increase the time you have available to deal with the deluge. This means you could be spending lots more time going over requests, only to find that the number of acceptable ones hasn’t increased all that much.

So how can you efficiently weed out the hotel RFPs that you, as a hotel manager, wouldn’t normally touch with a ten-foot pole?

Fight software with software.

The Sorting Hat for Hotels

There now exists electronic hotel RFP software that intelligently captures the characteristics that will put the right RFPs at the top of the electronic pile, while shuffling unacceptable ones to the bottom.

In addition, eRFP software can be set up to generate an automated response that will use information in the proposal to give the sender most of the information he or she needs without requiring you to spend time answering each and every one.

Businesses that are serious about holding their meeting or event at your hotel will get back to you to hammer out the details – the very customers you want to spend your time on!

Current Software Choices

It’s easy to find software to generate paperless RFPs. You as a hotel manager can use these applications yourself to let businesses know your facility is available for meetings and conferences.

Finding software that helps you sort through RFP responses takes a little more research, but there are some good choices out there:

  • SalesEdge – designed to streamline responses to RFPs generated by one of the most popular RFP software packages out there, Qvidian.
  • Qvidian – can be used not only to generate your own RFPs, but also to analyze RFPs submitted to your hotel and tell you instantly if the proposal is a good match for your facility. In addition, it can generate professional, automated responses.
  • RFPMonkey – another software package that can quickly categorize incoming RFPs, saving you weeding-out time.

Get the RFP monkey off your back with help from Contact us today!

Hotel RFPs: 3 Mistakes To Avoid

Requests for Proposal (RFPs) for hotel group events – like business meetings, conventions, and weddings – can build your customer base in many different ways. For example, businesses that held a successful meeting are likely to return. Individuals who booked a room for a wedding may come back for leisure travel or to book a wedding reception of their own.

Here are a few tips to keep your hotel RFPs in the high-quality zone.

Mistake #1: Quantity Over Quality

You’ve done your homework and gotten your hotel’s name out there as a possible business meeting or wedding venue. Hotel RFPs are flying into both your email inbox and snail mailbox. Instinct tells you to treat each one as what it is: a potential paying customer. Each one deserves a prompt response, right?

Be careful you don’t find yourself bogged down and wasting time going after business that isn’t right for your property. You risk underselling your hotel to clients who have unrealistic budget expectations, and probably will wind up not booking with you anyway.

Don’t respond to a business’s scattershot RFP approach with a return volley of wasted effort. Be selective. Scan each RFP and decide which ones are realistically right for your property.

With that narrowed-down list, you now have the time to concentrate on going after high-quality events that will result in higher profit margin and happy clients who are more willing to come back next year.

Mistake #2: Working From A Script

Do your research before taking up a potential client’s time with a long-winded sales call. Find out what the business or organization is all about, and be armed with a dozen or so good questions that relate to that specific client. Your attention to detail will go a long way toward selling your facility, as will your ability to listen while you let the client fully answer the questions.

Mistake #3: Promising The Moon

In your quest to attract profitable clients to hold events at your facility, never promise what you can’t deliver on time and at/under budget. In addition, if the client is asking for the moon in terms of comps, don’t comply until you’ve made sure it’s not going to turn a potentially profitable group event into a red-ink disaster.

A healthy online presence can help keep hotel RFPs rolling in. Let Smart eHotels help. Contact us today!

‘Tis The Season for Corporate Hotel RFPs

September is prime time for corporations sending out hotel RFPs (Request For Proposals). If you’re not ready for the deluge, or worse, you’re not getting a deluge, here are some tips to ramp up your hotel RFP strategy.

  • Communicate With The Sales Team
    Whether your facility is a smaller, independent operation or is part of a multinational chain, don’t just assume the company sales team is on top of handling all incoming RFPs. Off-site sales staff don’t know your facility or your geographical area as well as you do, and may be filtering RFPs they don’t deem appropriate. This means you may not be seeing RFPs that could potentially work out well for your hotel, if handled creatively. Okay, so the RFP is for 150 rooms and your facility only has 125. But does the sales staff realize there’s another hotel across the road that could easily handle the overflow? They don’t—but you do. So keep in touch with the sales team to make sure you’re laying eyes on every RFP with even a remote possibility of acceptance.
  • Plan Ahead
    In June or July every year, sit down and review your hotel RFP procedures with the staff member or members who will be designated to handle them. It’s a good idea to have one person designated to process all incoming RFPs, either part-time or full-time. This way, all reviews and responses will be consistent, and only one person at a time will be updating the spreadsheet you use to track incoming RFPs and responses. Final approval, of course, should rest with you, the manager.
  • Always Respond and Follow Up
    Use a contact management software system to keep a record of every organization that sends you an RFP. About a month before RFP season gets hot and heavy, email or call these organizations to make sure your hotel is still on their mailing list, whether you landed the contract last time or not. Ignoring an RFP because you assume you won’t land the contract can be a big mistake. By having the professional courtesy to reply, you up the chances that even if you don’t land this particular event, your name will come to mind for another event that could be perfect for your hotel. Also, don’t assume that just because a corporation used your hotel for an event last year, they’ll automatically give you the same event this year. Contact the coordinator to make sure you’re still on their radar.
  • Don’t Wait for RFPs – Seek Them Out
    Stay in touch with the other hotels in your local or regional chain to exchange RFP information. An event that isn’t a good fit for your facility might be perfect for one of your sister sites. Don’t forget to remind them to send along their RFPs to you.
    There are a number of online sources for hotel RFPs, as well. Joining a travel consortium, though doing so may incur a fee, is a great way to find RFPs and get your hotel’s name out in the business travelsphere. RFP-specific web sites like and are another good place to find RFPs, and to upload information so corporations can find you. Don’t forget to record when, where, and how much money you invested in each online venue, and track the responses to determine which sites are worth your time and effort.
  • Don’t Give Up
    Finally, remember this is business, not personal. If a corporate event planner doesn’t choose your hotel, don’t just sit and scratch your head why. Follow up—politely and professionally, of course—to find out what was the determining factor or factors that put your hotel out of the running. Location? Rate? Amenities (or lack thereof)? Don’t be afraid to ask how you could do better next time, or if there’s something you could do right now to land the contract. can help you develop an effective hotel RFP strategy. Contact us today!

Hotel Marketing Plan: Keep Your Hotel From Becoming A Wedding Disaster Tale

When a prospective bride and groom fill out your online hotel request for proposal to decide if your hotel is right for their wedding, they have a vision of the perfect day – not the myriad things that could go wrong.

Even the best hotels can’t be completely prepared for every possible mishap, misstep, or miscommunication, but here are a few common problems for which you can have a back-up plan in place.

  • On-Site Maintenance and Renovation

Regularly scheduled maintenance that affects any visible part of the hotel or the grounds should be scheduled around a wedding event, or simply do not book a wedding or event on those dates. Even if renovation does not impact guest areas directly, be aware that dust and paint fumes travel, and some guests may be sensitive enough that they require relocation.

For unplanned, emergency construction, such as after a flood or storm, it’s a good idea to develop a partnership with other local hotels. An agreement to transfer guests for unexpected disasters could save the couple’s day, and earn your hotel points for customer service.

Make sure all elevators, sprinkler systems, and other safety features are inspected and functioning properly.

  • Nearby Construction

Dust, noise, and unsightly road or building construction nearby can disrupt a wedding event, even if it doesn’t directly involve your hotel. Pay attention to city, county, and state construction plans so you can offer guests alternate routes, or alternate dates, if necessary.

  • Local Events That Draw Crowds

Be aware of local events that could impact a wedding. Location near a major convention center, NASCAR track, or venue for an annual event that draws large crowds could impact a couple’s plans for an intimate destination wedding. Make sure you inform the couple, especially if they’re not from the area, of popular local events that could affect availability of rooms, car rentals, restaurant table availability, and even traffic on the streets and at local tourist attractions.

  • Personnel changes

Your hotel wedding and event coordinator should have a back-up plan in place and a fully informed back-up person on standby if he or she must leave the site for any reason. Few things stress a bride out more than having to deal with a new and possibly uninformed event contact when she arrives at your hotel for her big day.

  • Not Enough Hands on Deck

Make sure you have enough staff scheduled to help wedding guests and vendors with extra luggage, equipment, and decorations. If you have a security guard, consider scheduling an extra one to keep an eye on all the additional guests and vendors on site.

  • Heath Emergencies

A hotel wedding party is bound to include a number of out-of-town guests who don’t know the local lay of the land. In addition to informing guests of the nearest medical facilities, someone on your staff should be trained in CPR and first aid. It’s also not a bad idea to keep an AED device on the premises, and train your staff how to use it.

  • Accidental Overbooking

Even with modern technology, unintentional overbooking will probably happen at some point. Work with your partner hotels in the area to handle the overflow – and try not to let the wedding party be the ones to relocate. Business and just-passing-through travelers will be less picky about relocating to another hotel, particularly if you offer them a restaurant voucher or a free night at another time.

  • Power Outages

Few things will panic a bride more than a power outage in the middle of her blow-dry. A back-up generator could save the day – and perhaps a kitchen full of reception food!

  • Weather Emergencies

Always have a guest evacuation plan, and have periodic practice runs. For the minor rain shower that could potentially ruin a bride’s dress, simply keep a supply of large golf umbrellas stashed in a closet. Brides will be “singing in the rain”, and singing your praises to other potential customers.

Even the greatest hotel marketing plan might not help you avoid a wedding disaster, but we can! Contact Smart eHotels today.