One of the first steps in the hotel selection process is contacting hotels to get rates and check availability. You compile all of your meeting details into your RFP and hit send. After a week or so, you may get a response that has details missing, incomplete answers to questions you’ve asked, and uncertainty as to whether they even have the meeting space you need – leaving you essentially right where you started. But why? Where could you have gone wrong?
The problem: eRFP technology has made it too easy to send RFPs to way too many hotels.
On any given day, hotel sales managers receive more meeting RFPs than they have the time to respond to. Because of this volume of RFPs, they typically don’t have the time to give each one the individual attention you might expect. Try this progressive path to selecting a hotel for your next company meeting. It will save you tons of time, ensure that you get complete proposals and the best offers from the hotels.
Think of your site selection process in terms of steps, where each step narrows the field of hotels and at the same time, asks the hotels to work harder. By taking this tiered approach and asking more of hotels as their chances grow (each cut reducing the number of hotels, and increasing the remaining hotels’ chance of booking), you’re telling sales managers, “Hey, you’re part of the in-crowd — the chosen few!” which dramatically shifts their attention span and directs it right at you. The result is that you will be far more likely to get their best because they know they have a real chance at booking your meeting.
Here’s a suggested path you might consider for your next meeting.
Step 1: Search broadly. Get room rates, F&B minimums, room rentals and a yes or no to the question of sleeping room and meeting space availability. Send to 8–10 hotels. (This is not the time to get them to respond to your concessions, agree to your addendum, or assign meeting room names. I promise, you’ll get far more value later on.)
Step 2: Narrow your search. Based on the first pass of availability and rates, reduce the number of hotels down to five–seven.
Step 3: Inform the hotels. Sales managers, start your engines! This is where you begin to energize those salespeople. Tell the hotels that made the cut and also let them know who else is on the short-list. Be sure to notify the others that they didn’t make the cut.
Step 4: Put your chosen hotels to work. Open up the dialogue and connect. It’s also time to give your “chosen few” more information on your meeting, to include your concession requests, addendums, etc.
Step 5: Narrow again. Yes, that’s right. One more cut down to your top three is critical to getting the most out of your hotel relationships. Imagine the excitement of those three salespeople when they hear they’ve made it. I’ve been there, and I can tell you by that point I was driven to win the business.
Once you’ve completed this five-step process, you’ll have all the information you need to select the best offer. Make your decision with confidence, pop champagne with the winner, and let the others down quickly so they can move on.
This path will save you time and it will ensure that you get the right information and the best offers from the right hotels at the right time along the path.. And that, in turn, will ensure that you get the best possible outcome, because the effort at each step – both yours and the hotel salespeople’s – is equal to the opportunity.
Written by: Mike Mason