Here are the top 5 frustrating behaviors that drive suppliers crazy:
Despite the fact that it is a seller’s market, we planners still ask for the world during negotiations - and we still expect to get it. I defend our species to suppliers all the time, telling them that it’s just our job to keep asking until we hear “no.” Still, apparently our requests – and the volume of them – often run into the realm of the unbelievable and the ridiculous. My advice to planners is to clearly identify your top three to five priorities in order. You can still ask for the world, but you want to be sure you get the things that are truly important to you first.
4. Last-Minute Details About Our Conferences
For people who live and die by the clock onsite working a program, it’s amazing to suppliers how often we planners are late with the details before-hand. I think most suppliers liken timely banquet event orders to Bigfoot: the sightings are so rare, many don’t really believe they exist at all! Planners hold the key to alleviating as much of the unnecessary rush-rush and last-minute demands as possible. We can do this – we can help our supplier partners to deliver better results by meeting reasonable deadlines. It just benefits us in the end!
3. Planners No-Showing to Supplier Events
As planners, it drives us crazy when we can’t get an accurate count on who’s attending one of our events. It makes it really hard to budget, to order the proper amount of food, to have enough seating, and to ensure the proper comfort level of our guests. If you’ve ever planned an event and only half the people who RSVP’d actually showed up, wouldn’t you be more than a little miffed? What a waste of time, money, food, and materials. This, unfortunately, is the norm when it comes to supplier events! It’s the biggest, most common rudeness I hear time-and-again from suppliers about planner behavior: when we RSVP to attend a supplier event and then simply not bother to show up. Don’t do it. If you commit, show up.
2. Sourcing Abuse
Back in the days of yore, companies like Cvent and Starcite created electronic RFP tools to improve upon the antiquated system that we planners enlisted to perform our property searches. What has happened since has been pretty tragic, in my opinion, for both suppliers and planners, due to misuse of these tools. If it’s just another couple clicks of your mouse to send that RFP of yours to 20 cities instead of just two or three, why not? If you can have more choices by sending your request to 50 properties instead of four or five, why not?
I’ll tell you why not – because we overburden suppliers who realistically don’t stand a chance, or aren’t even the right size or location, and shouldn’t have received the RFP in the first place. We also overburden ourselves in the process. Keep in mind that suppliers are being squeezed from both sides: on one side is the ridiculously tight deadline, and on the other side is the mountain of volume they are receiving from electronic RFP tools. Even if you don’t have the time to do thorough preliminary research on multiple destinations and hotels before submitting your RFP, commit to doing as much as you can. Thoughtfully narrow down your list of prospects to 1) those who make sense for your group, 2) an amount you can reasonably handle, and 3) an amount you can respond to throughout the process.
1. Ignoring the People Who Just Busted Their Humps to Meet Your Deadline
By far, I hear this complaint more than all the others combined. “Hi, I’m Paula Planner and I have this really complex meeting, and I need a proposal from you in 24 hours. You can pretty much assume that you’ll rush, rush, rush, get me all the information I need, and then never hear back from me again.”
If you can’t handle the volume of emails and voicemails from all those suppliers, perhaps you sent out the RFP to too many suppliers in the first place?
If you don’t have an update after several weeks (or months), perhaps that emergency proposal wasn’t quite the emergency you made it out to be?
Or are you just embarrassed to tell them they didn’t win the bid?
So many of the suppliers I interviewed indicated that they look foolish to their bosses when they can’t get a simple answer. They just need to know what happened to the business, and if possible, why they didn’t win it. This helps them target their efforts where needed toward property improvements, website upgrades, and more. If they did work for you, they deserve an answer one way or the other. Period.
I always say that planners have very long memories when we’ve been mistreated or wronged. I learned that suppliers are no different. That supplier you completely put through the ringer, or ignored, or stood up. You may need them someday. Do you want them to remember you for past bad behavior? We all can commit to doing better. Take the pledge at www.rfpsmart.org.
Shawna Suckow, CMP, is a veteran planner and the Founder of SPIN:Senior Planners Industry Network (www.spinplanners.com) and The Hive Network (www.thehivenetwork.org). She’s the author of Planner Pet Peeves and Supplier Pet Peeves, both available on Amazon. She is an award-winning speaker to audiences worldwide on audience engagement, supplier-planner relations, and other meetings industry topics.