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!