Effective communication is key to building a trusting relationship between you and your suppliers, increasing your RFP response rates, and securing the best venue for your meetings and events.Handshake
Here are a few tips for effective communication throughout the RFP process:
Be up front with potential suppliers
Don’t hold back information or try to play games thinking that withholding information will provide you with leverage in later negotiations. If there are potential deal breakers, let a property know in advance what they are. If there are certain things you need to make the deal work, make sure the property is aware of those items. The more direct you are with potential suppliers, they more direct they can be in providing a detailed response to your RFP – thereby helping you make the right choice for your program.
Provide details about your event
The more information you provide upfront, the better understanding a property will have about your potential business. Details should go beyond the basic rates, dates and space needs and include things like past history, contracting processes and attendee demographics. Explain the objective of your meeting, why you are considering a particular destination or location, and describe what is most important to your client/attendees in a venue. All of this information allows a supplier to more accurately assess your business and provide you with not only accurate rate and availability information, but additional context to help you compare and contrast your options.
Let suppliers know your preferred method of contact
Many planners give instructions in their RFPs asking suppliers not to contact them directly. No matter how detailed an RFP you provide, there are bound to be questions which can best be handled via a conversation. If you are asking a hotel for a detailed response, they may need more information in order to do so. If you want the person at the hotel to work for you and invest a lot of time in a crafting a detailed response, it is going to help response rates to be open to communicating with them. Let suppliers know how you would prefer for them to contact you should they have questions. Properties should respect you requests, but you should also respond in a timely manner when they do reach out with questions.
Communication builds relationships
Like anything in life, a personal connection can go a long way towards a long-term, meaningful relationship with your meeting suppliers. While hoteliers want to win business and have promotions and flexibility on pricing, they are going to be most open to helping you when you build that relationship. The RFP process should be an extension of your relationship with a property, or an opportunity to start a new relationship, so avoid treating every meeting as a separate transaction. When you have a relationship, properties are willing to be your advocate and go the extra mile for you. The benefits of these relationships continue past the RFP phase, and can be very helpful throughout the planning process .
Open lines of communication between you and suppliers ensure a mutual understanding and develop valuable partnerships. By being upfront from the get-go your RFPs, including details that paint a complete picture of your meeting or event, and allowing for appropriate communication during the process, your potential business will be well received by suppliers and you will benefit from higher response rates.