Behind the Curtain of the Hotel Sales Office…
The key to getting hotels to work hard for your meeting and submit a killer bid is to understand how to get your meeting RFP to stand out among the sea of leads a hotel sales team receives every day. In order to do this, you need to first understand the hairballs that sales managers deal with, and the key information you can provide that will make them seek out your RFPs and jump for your business.
Nothing gets a salesperson more fired up and motivated than believing they have a real shot at booking your meeting. Unfortunately, sales managers are often overwhelmed by RFP spam.
What is RFP spam? Simply put, it’s any lead (meeting request or RFP) that is sent to a large number of hotels. How does this affect your RFP credibility? It’s really just simple math.
• If you send an RFP to 20 hotels, each sales manager has a 5% chance of earning your business.
• If you send that RFP to just five hotels, each sales manager has a 20% chance of closing.
Put yourself in the sales manager’s shoes: if you think you’re one of 20 or more hotels to receive a new lead, you aren’t feeling too good about your chances. Hotel salespeople spend about 90 minutes on each lead response, so they’ll need to invest about 30 hours of work (90 minutes per lead times 20 leads) to close one meeting.
Why is this important?
Because now it’s a time management issue. Will sales managers work harder on the lead with 20 to 30 hotels on it or the one that has five to eight? Which lead gets the proper attention and, ultimately, the offer that best matches what the customer is looking for?
Maximizing RFP credibility comes down to changing a few habits and communicating your intentions. Here’s what you should do right now to get hotels to jump when your RFP shows up.
1. Keep the total number of competing hotels down to eight or less. This requires some work on your part to ensure that you narrow down the list of the right hotels for your meeting. A little extra research goes a long way in eliminating hotels that probably wouldn’t work for your meeting anyway. By reducing the competition for your hotel partner, your RFP credibility will skyrocket.
2. Now tell the hotels who they’re competing against. Take the credibility to a whole new level by providing the names of competing properties. That way they know how many – and exactly who – they’re competing with. Sales managers fight harder for your business when they know who they’re up against.
When you think about it, we’re really talking about a simple concept: increasing communication. Salespeople want to work hard to earn your business, and it helps when they believe they have a fair chance to earn it. When you provide just a little extra key information to your hotel partners, the results will amaze you. As basic as these first two steps might seem, understanding the sales manager’s motivations and frustrations will help you get what you need.
In Part II, I’ll share more tips and talk about why creating urgency around your RFP will lead to timely responses and highly-valued bids right out of the gate.
Mike Mason, ZEO and founder of Zentila, is a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry. Before founding Zentila one year ago, Mason spent ten years with Gaylord Hotels, most recently as the senior vice president of sales, and another decade opening hotels all over the South and the Caribbean. After working in the industry for a quarter of a century, Mason identified an opportunity for meeting planners and hotels that was a major pain point for both. In an effort to capitalize on the growing trend to book short-term meetings, he set out on a journey to create an easier path between hotels and planners. The result of this journey is the first-ever complete online booking solution for meetings where planners can search, price, and book in less than a day.