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.

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!

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 SmarteHotels.com. 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 lanyon.com and rfpexpress.com 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.

SmarteHotels.com can help you develop an effective hotel RFP strategy. Contact us today!