How hotels can improve the RFP response process
In the hotel industry an RFP, or request for proposal, is a means for planners to clearly define all the specific needs and wants they have for an event or activity. Usually, these RFPs are sent to a number of competing bidders and from there the planner will narrow down the submissions to a handful of ‘finalists’. In some cases, if the proposal stands out from the rest, the planner may simply accept the hotel’s offers, sign a contract and a partnership commences.
It can be a competitive landscape and one that moves exceptionally fast. With new software platforms that automate and personalize RFP responses, as well as more savvy sales teams that work hard to compete for business, it is becoming harder and harder for planners to identify those that really stand out from the crowd.
So, how can you whip your hotel sales team into shape and ensure you’re doing everything in your power to drive success? Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
1. Make sure your team understands the process
It sounds like a simple one, but training is vital for this. Keep your team on the ball with requirements needed to respond to all aspects of an RFP. Usually, there will be a number of questions that should be answered and specific needs for the meeting/event will be listed. Be sure to answer everything required without deviating from the project scope.
2. Don’t just wait for RFPs to come to you
Yes, RFPs will come to you. This, however, is dependent on how much marketing and brand awareness there is for your hotel in the industry. Given this, it’s important to be aware of the prospective customers in your space and the opportunities that could come your way if those planners knew more about your hotel. Keep yourself on the radar of key planners locally and internationally that could be a good fit for your hotel. It won’t do you any harm to let people know who you are and ask to be included in their RFP responses.
3. Be prepared to move fast
Depending on the size of your hotel and your activity in the meetings/events space, the time frame needed to respond to an RFP can vary. However, more often than not, you are competing against a number of other hotels so need to be on the ball and ready to respond as fast as possible. Don’t forget to keep the first point in mind though. The last thing you want to do is rush your response and miss out key information so be sure to respond promptly with everything that’s needed. A fast, reliable proposal software platform here will help keep you on track with this.
4. Prepare your responses
If you are prepared for specific types of RFPs, you will be able to respond at a much faster rate. Using software here can help as you can create well-written, thoughtful template responses as well as use dynamic fields that fill in specific account information based on who you are responding to. This will help you with your type of response, how fast you get there and whether you win the business.
5. Widen your pool of contacts
It’s important when responding to an RFP not to deviate from timelines, contacts, and information required. This is almost always a given when responding to an RFP. It doesn’t, however, harm your cause if you have internal advocates for your brand, or ‘influencers’ that can help make your proposal stand out from the crowd during the review process. This point ties in well with point two, the more you network and increase your pool of contacts, the more advocates or ‘influencers’ you will meet. Share your success stories too – your customers can be one of your biggest marketing tools, so be sure to share keep example case studies and testimonials in your back pocket for when you need them.
As planners become savvier, so should hotel sales departments. By responding faster, with more tailored, thoughtful proposals that work specifically for your business, hoteliers will see a shift in their team’s efficiencies and revenue streams. Want to make your sales proposal stand out from the crowd? Here are top 10 tips to create the best sales proposal.