Forget about Django. There’s another menace wreaking havoc in our industry — the bombarding of hotel sales departments by the number of out-of-control electronic Requests for Proposals. Online RFP engines have become a meetings industry game changer and, with the ease of lead distribution through online aggregators, we’ve created a monster!
I hear from my hotel friends that they have become overwhelmed with generic, unqualified, leads that have been sent out to large numbers of hotels in many destinations. In the past, before widespread distribution became as easy as clicking a button, planners tended to do a better job of narrowing their RFP distribution to a handful of targeted properties. Now, the hotels complain, the RFP is really more of an RFI – Request for Information – and may be disseminated to 25 or 30 properties.
The result? Bogged down sales people see the large distribution list, give the RFP low priority and often either don’t respond or send back a cookie-cutter proposal in lieu of a truly competitive bid. Who loses? Both the planners and the hotels.
At January’s PCMA convention I spoke with my friend Ed Kady, associate director of sales at the 1,625 room Manchester Grand Hotel in San Diego, who described a recent frustrating scenario: “I received the same lead from four different third parties. There were drastic differences in them to a point where one would fit the desired date and the other would not, and they varied from 360 rooms to 700 rooms on peak night for the same event. One lead showed two days of set up time, and the other had no set up time at all.” Ed continued, “We called all four third parties to find out why there was so much difference in the RFP’s, and each said they were relaying the specs given to them by the client. You can see the serious problem here.”
The solution for avoiding miscommunication, producing qualified RFPs that will result in serious proposals, and ultimately booking a successful meeting, is for planners to work with the local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) to pre-select the hotels that might be serious contenders for your business. First, zero in on the destinations that seem to be the best fit your criteria, be clear about your list of “must haves” and “would like to haves” in the host property, then contact a CVB sales professional in each destination to discuss which hotels fit the bill.
The CVB is the best first point of contact to help you identify the properties that can provide the right fit for your meeting, because they have a comprehensive view of the destination, local expertise, and extensive in-market relationships. Use empowerMINT.com’s Destination Finder or Cvent’s Destination Guide for contact information to reach a sales professional at each of the convention and visitors bureaus you’ve decided to target. Your CVB sales professional will familiarize you with all the destination has to offer and give you pointers to help give your RFP priority in the eyes of the hotel.
Don’t get lost in the shuffle with generic, shotgun RFPs. With the help of the CVBs, take careful aim and bag great hotel proposals!