Back in the day, it took a week or two to submit one hotel RFP or request for proposal, answering hundreds of questions. It was a very tedious activity since I had to go to all of the departments to gather the information required to answer all the questions.
Today, hotel RFP platforms and submission channels have come a long way. Nowadays, there are RFP platforms where you can load those accounts that you would want to be part of their corporate global program for your tracking purpose. These days, it will only take you 10 to 15 minutes to complete any bid. Most of the responses are taken from the database which a hotel would have completed before the start of any RFP season.
Hotels are always striving to be part of corporate global programs. Specifically, those that consider themselves as business hotels. I would have thought that by now, hotels would be very aware and would want to be part of the fast-paced RFP world.
Apparently, there are a lot of hotels that are still sticking to their traditional way of going to each account and have signed contracts for their corporate rates.
For those that do have RFP platforms in place, I have witnessed bid after bid passing by without a single response from the hotel. I remember an audit where I have flagged the hotel that a number of corporate RFPs have not been completed. The hotel came back to me and plainly responded that they will check and try to submit. I was so shocked with their feedback, it was like having a corporate client waiting at your lobby that is considering to give you business and you ignore them. I was even more surprised to find out during my meeting with these hotels that they were struggling to get more corporate clients into their portfolio.
Hotels need to educate themselves, and especially their sales people, how to effectively and efficiently handle RFPs. Here are some things that you need to take note of when dealing with hotel RFPs:
Read and understand thoroughly the Terms & Inclusions and/or Requirements to Bid. Corporate global programs are quite strict with these. If a hotel is not able to abide and agree even for just one item they are automatically disqualified during the bidding. For example; 6pm same day cancellation, breakfast inclusive, WIFI inclusive, airport transfer inclusive, etc.
Watch out for "mandatory questions", "additional items", or "custom questions". These questions could be a repeat of the specified Terms & Inclusions and/or Requirements to Bid. Responses to these questions are also highly important. If unacceptable to hotels this could also mean an auto rejection to your bid.
Make sure to submit bids before actual due dates. Completing bids ahead of time will give you allowance to adjust. For example, in case you will have some issues with the questions and/or ask approval for a special rate offer. It is very vital that you do not miss the opportunity to submit on time as it would be very hard to go to the travel manager and request for an extension. This can reflect badly on your hotel’s image and might have a negative effect on the final decision on your bid.
Be very aware of re-negotiation requests. Clients can come back to you with another request or an appeal to lower your rates. Make sure to be prepared well ahead of time for these instances. Re-negotiations have a very fast turnaround, most of the time just around 24 hours.
Make sure that all information loaded is accurate. Responses are very important to qualify the hotel and be part of a corporate global program. RFPs do not have room for guesses and approximations.
Being part of a corporate global program can help your hotel increase feeder market and even develop new ones. This can aid you in expanding your global reach. Having a lot of accepted RFPs can take you off the risk of dependency on your big producing accounts. Most especially, this can greatly assist your hotel to gain the needed increase on the corporate segment.
Rochelle Castillejos is the Managing Director & Founder Hotel Revenue Plus. She has over 15 years of industry experience in the fields of Sales and Marketing, Revenue Management, RFPs (Request for Proposals), IBEs (Internet Booking Engines), CRSs (Central Reservations Systems), PMSs (Property Management Systems), RMSs (Revenue Management Systems), OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), and GDSs (Global Distribution System). She oversaw around 55 hotels in the regions of Americas, Europe, Mediterranean, Asia Pacific and Middle East throughout her career.
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