For the sixth best practice tip in our series, we start to look at the information a planner should include in an RFP. The specific details will likely be different from meeting to meeting or organization to organization, but one thing is sure to get every RFP that coveted attention at the top of a hotel’s stack: setting "great" expectations. This encompasses two main areas: response timeframes and number of questions.
Include a reasonable number of questions in your RFP. As you create your RFP to send to the suppliers that you’ve researched, truly consider the amount of detail that you need. Where are you in the venue finding process? Do you really just need basic information such as rates, dates and space, or are you at the point that you’ve narrowed your list and are trying to make a final decision? The stage you are in, along with any corporate requirements, should dictate the amount of detail you request from a property. Communicate which questions are most important by making certain questions required and others optional. Additionally, make sure to include questions about, and indicate any potential deal breakers.
This further helps the hotels understand your needs and will help increase qualified responses to your RFPs. Request a response in a reasonable timeframe. We live in an information age of immediacy, but it’s not possible for a hotel to respond to every RFP in 24-48 hours. Think of how frustrated you get when someone comes to your desk with a request for an immediate project. Best practices stipulate that you allow a minimum of 48 to 72 hours for a response and a maximum of two weeks. If this is a last-minute meeting that does need a response in that 24 to 48 hour window, give the property a reason. Let them know that you are making a quick decision and the reason for the fast turnaround. Again, the goal is effective communication via an electronic channel, which will increase your response rate.
By setting great expectations in the number of questions asked of a property and the response time requested, hotels are able to provide a more thoughtful and detailed response to your RFP, providing you with better responses and the hotel with a better chance of winning your business.