3 Ways to Evaluate and Manage Inbound RFPs

John-Michael Jenkins

Time is money. The age-old saying is more appropriate than ever, and it often seems there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all of our tasks. As a sales manager, you’re constantly being pulled in a million directions, making decisions, overseeing tasks, and booking events. With the constant barrage of incoming Requests for Proposal (RFPs), how do you decide which events are right for your space?

It is easier than ever to submit an RFP for an upcoming event. On average, hotels receive about 4 RFPs per week. RFPs can come from a variety of sources, including a property’s website, global sales teams, or booking channels like Cvent.

With most RFPs being sent to at least three properties, providing a compelling response when you create a proposal is essential. Venues need to quickly determine what business is the best fit for their venue and which RFPs they should respond to.

Qualifying Solutions

Most hotels have an SLA to respond to RFP’s within the business day with either a decline or a proposal. To optimize the evaluation process, the first step is to establish a system to qualify the inbound requests. Start by implementing a form that helps organize and qualify all leads better. Your form should request the number of attendees, guestrooms needed, date options, and other selected filters. Then you can pull the RFPs that fit your business criteria best. Compare the list to the contracts that are in flight, which you can do via the GRC report in a sales and catering solution. This saves time and puts venues one step ahead in responding to potential clients.

Identify ways to route RFPs to the best resources to make a decision. Using the information above, create routing rules that will put the opportunities in front of the right people to evaluate them.

A more automated solution is to connect your sales and catering solution with your revenue management solution. The base information from the RFP along with the provided budget can be assessed to provide a quick “go” / “no go” decision.

Responding Solutions

Once the weeding-out process has been completed, it is imperative that venues respond to clients in a timely fashion. According to data from the RFP management program MeetingBroker, more than 50% of first responders win the client’s business. “Our brand focus is on guest engagement. As a result, we employ a 24-hour rule – all RFPs must be answered within 24 hours to ensure we’re making the best first impression. Planners will know the kind of service they can expect to be delivered from our property right away,” said Joe Ouellette, Director of Sales and Marketing at Mill Falls Resort in Meredith, NH.

A large demographic of event planners today are millennials, and they have a different set of expectations when it comes to working with a venue. The millennial event planner tends to be highly educated with a clear vision and is able to hone in on venues and details more quickly. This means they move much faster and expect responses in a similar manner.

A good sales and catering software program will give you a huge advantage in responding to leads. After the right-fit clients have been identified in the qualifying stage, a program can be automated to route new leads to the proper sales team member, so they can quickly respond. It also helps to have a proposal template for all sales team members that you can use to quickly and seamlessly input your quote. Take it one step further – use an eProposal that will catch a client’s eye with a stylized, compelling response enriched with multimedia content.

Event planners are working on tighter deadlines than ever before – just 60-90 days on average. This makes qualifying and responding to RFPs quickly and effectively more important than ever. Be sure you have the software solutions in place to capitalize on your leads and continue to grow your business as a premier event venue.

 

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