Connecting the Dots on Group Meeting RFPs

Connecting the DotsRecently, I invested dozens of hours to write a sales proposal. The likelihood of winning this business was 50-50, at best. Still, I deemed it worth a shot. There were some requirements where I was a slam-dunk fit and others where I was a stretch.

While I was tempted to gloss over the stretch points, I didn’t. Nor should you, as you evaluate Hotel Group Business RFPs.  If the event planner takes time to scope out requirements, ignoring any one of these could take you out of the running immediately.

Here are a few more tips to make sure you’re connecting ALL the RFP dots and pursuing the RIGHT opportunities:

  • First Impressions Count

    Cvent recently teamed up with MeetingsNet to host a webinar: Bridging the Gap on RFPs: Best Practices for Meeting Planners and Suppliers. If you missed it, I encourage you to view the recording. Interesting, but during this webinar, one hotelier shared that they have a "Two Business Hour Response Time" pledge for RFPs. That response time pledge doesn't mean they're answering the RFP. They're simply acknowledging receipt and setting expectations for next steps. Did you know that within the Cvent Supplier Network, you can assign someone to an incoming RFP or note that this RFP is "in progress?" That one timely step could make a powerful first impression and move you up a notch on the list of contenders.  
  • Understand All Requirements Are Not Equal
    If you're scanning through a litany of meeting specs, it's helpful to know which ones are most important. How do you do this? ASK. A quick email to the event planner with a few questions is your best route. By the way, most planners prefer NOT to get phone calls during these early stages. 
  •  Communicate Availability to Earn a Conversation
    Most planners rated Availability as a top priority for RFPs. If you see requested dates are open, but there are other requirements that pose challenges, let the planner know this right out of the gate. Then request a brief phone chat to discuss other requirements. Use the carrot you have to earn that follow-up conversation and possibly a little more wiggle room on other issues.
  • Look for Opportunities to Bundle Requirements
    Remember, event planners are big on details. Sometimes you'll see RFPs with 30+ requirements. Addressing requirements in batches can streamline your bid response. Just make sure you don't skip over any one of these.
  • Don't Hide Behind Technology
    Let's face it, electronic bid portals are big time savers for both meeting planners AND hotel sales teams. That said, if your event venue is on a short list of finalists, sometimes you need to pick up the phone. PS: Make sure you're documenting all discussions within the Cvent Supplier Network bid portal. That way, everyone's looking at the most recent terms.

As demand heats up, especially in top tier cities, sometimes your best response may be to politely decline the group meeting RFP invitation. The good news is thanks to technology, you're moving faster and gleaning more insight and data to inform that important decision.

If you haven't done so already, be sure to join us for a future webinar, where you can see the full scope of power within the Cvent Supplier Network and learn valuable tips so you're not leaving group business on the table. Make sure you're locked and loaded to increase group business revenues in 2012! 

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