According to the 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers’ study “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy,” meetings annually account for the direct spending of $280 billion, including $39 billion on accommodations, $30 billion on food and beverage and $10 billion on venue rental. When compared to five years ago, hotels have seen a 300% increase in RFP leads from meeting planners.
As a hotel, how do you handle the onslaught on these incoming requests? Do you hire an army of sales managers or do you miss out on the opportunity to increase yield and RevPAR? Ideally, you won’t have to deal with either of those scenarios. The advance of electronic RFP technology has finally given hotels the ability to streamline, automate and curate RFP responses, giving each request the attention and personalization it requires to secure that business.
The impact: Measuring the before and after of electronic RFPs
Cendyn recently conducted a case study on two major global chains who implemented and white labeled our RFP toolkit. The first is a global hospitality company with 11 industry leading brands with a worldwide portfolio of 600+ properties in 50+ countries. The second one is a leading global hospitality company that spans the lodging sector from luxury resorts and full-service hotels to extended-stay suites and focused-service hotels. Their portfolio includes 12 widely recognized global brands and an award-winning customer loyalty program.
In both cases, they found significant gains when comparing the hotels’ average response times and response rates before and after they began using our RFP Toolkit:
- Average Response Time dropped from 19 days to just 9.35 hours.
- Response Rate increased from a 12% to a 93.7%.
Why does RFP technology work so well with planners?
RFP technology addresses the unique challenges of the on-demand economy, where consumers are accustomed to the instant gratification of digital marketplaces and want immediate access to all goods and services. In today’s business environment, event planners expect an immediate response, and they get frustrated when it takes days to get a proposal back. However, it’s important to note that it isn’t just about how fast you respond to RFP inquiries, your response also needs to address the needs and requirements of the event stakeholders, while exceeding their expectations of great service and amenities.
RFP technology addresses both of these issues by allowing hotels to respond quickly to inquiries with a curated proposal that showcases your property in the best possible light and reflects the uniqueness of the attendee experience. The ability to answer quickly and with a personalized response creates a powerful tool that generates loyalty in the form of an emotional connection to your hotel brand.
Beyond response time: Curating and streamlining the RFP response
One of the hotel sales managers who uses Cendyn/EVENTS suite of solutions once told us about an instance when he was able to secure an event in just one phone call. While listening to the planner talk about the requirements for the meeting he wanted to organize, the sales manager logged all of the details into our electronic proposal delivery system (eProposal®), and customized it to include the catering menu, venue pictures, and guestroom plus event space being held for the group. The sales manager sent the proposal to the planner before they hung-up the phone. The planner was so impressed that he booked the meeting right away.
From the hotel side, one of the major benefits of implementing Cendyn/EVENTS RFP Toolkit is its ease-of-use to streamline and automate the RFP response process. The RFP toolkit lets you collect assets, including sample menus, rich media, photos and videos and sort them according to your audiences. Wedding videos go with sample wedding menus, meeting photos go with banquet and meeting break menus and so on.
With all of these assets in place, the RFP technology lets you answer RFPs quickly with a detailed proposal enclosed in a dynamic visual presentation (PDF version is available for working offline) that can be customized, edited and signed. You can assign the correct assets immediately and round out the response with accurate, detailed information about the group’s room blocks, types and upgrades, catering menus, and venue information as well as activities. The customized presentation back to the customer elevates the traditional RFP experience from comparison grids to media-rich information which drive group sales.
Speed, agility and perfection are in high demand when it comes to responding to RFPs. The ability to easily make edits on the fly, the assurance that your responses are on-brand and up to date with relevant content is key to success. However, it’s also the insightful dashboard within your Toolkit that will guide you into making the decisions that lead to profitable revenue growth.
Data drives results for Group Sales too
When your RFP technology makes it easy for you to complete responses faster and better, your response rates will increase. When you respond to more RFPs, you win more business. That said, the idea that more is always better should be approached with caution. It is crucial to step back and verify that you are pursuing and winning the right kind of group business.
With groups, it is standard to offer discounted group rates upfront to incentivize the sale with the assumption those discounts will be offset by an increase of ancillary revenues once the event attendees are on property (meeting space rental, F&B). Therefore, it is crucial to analyze your actual data to give your hotel group sales department the confidence to be selective with RFP proposals. Ultimately, generating new group revenue comes from knowing which types of groups business you should seek and when. This valuable insight combined with the right RFP technology takes profitable revenue growth to the next level.