May 01, 2020
By Megan Boley

Times may be tough, but they've brought us all together in unexpected ways. As we forge ahead, let’s be mindful of the good deeds and helping hands that will get us through this downturn.

In this edition of our new weekly blog series, Good Works and Great Ideas, which we publish every Friday, we’ll address the state of hotel sales during COVID-19 and look at the latest insights into how you can adapt your business and address planner needs as we shift into a new normal of meetings and events. We’ll also post a collection of articles and inspiring examples from the hospitality industry that demonstrate how hotels are helping others and making the most of this uncertain time.

Great Ideas: Learn more about hotel sales during COVID-19 and how you can win future business

Great ideas empower us to thrive and move toward a better day. We’ll cover a few pressing questions with ideas for how to address them and data points to help you prepare for the future.

RFP response best practices

Even though hotel sales are down during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still thousands of RFPs flowing through the system, according to Cvent Supplier Network (CSN) data. Here are some best practices and basics you can put into play in order to keep winning group business.

  • Speed counts. Even though you might not be the person who normally handles RFPs, it’s important that you build the proposal quickly, comprehensively, and accurately. Making this your top priority is crucial; in a recent case study about The Wink DC, a good response rate helped turn around a sudden drop in leads due to a deflagging. By improving speed and accuracy, the hotel’s team was able to generate $1.6 million in awarded RFP value.
  • Prioritize your RFPs. As leads comes in, rank the value of each based on what they bring to the venue. For example, a lead should be scored in terms of profitability, availability, and relationship with the planner – the higher the score, the more valuable the lead. In doing so, you can focus first on the highest value leads. As the industry begins to restart, it’s also important to adjust that lead scoring criteria. For example, for now your hotel may simply want the largest, most valuable events possible. But as the calendar fills, you may need to adjust to prioritize open dates. 
  • Read the entire RFP. It seems simple, but taking the time to go through the details will help you get a better sense of what the event planner wants. They often tuck individual questions into their request. Make sure you address every point in a clear and concise manner. This will show you’re ready and willing to attend to their specific needs and make their program work at the property.
  • Be thorough and relevant. Include information that is pertinent to the planner’s event. It’s an essential balancing act: Give the planner the full picture of what the venue offers, but only as it relates to what they’re looking for.
  • Don’t just say no. Offer an alternative. If you can’t fill the date, or meet the requested concessions, suggest an alternative instead of declining the RFP. In the current event environment, flexibility is the key, and there’s a chance that a planner may be open to date changes. 

Remember that planners are looking for the best overall fit – and this is especially true right now. They might be willing to compromise or negotiate in some areas. If no alternative can be reached, however, be sure to thank the planner for including you in the bid request and commit to working on cultivating a relationship with them.

Things have changed but our commitment to you is the same. How can we help?

Maximize planner visibility

Maximizing your property’s visibility has never been more important. One of the best ways to keep event planners informed about what’s going on at your hotel is via your website and on sourcing platforms. Cvent’s Supplier Network makes it easy to keep hotel profile pages up-to-date. It’s critical information that planners are looking for as they continue to submit RFPs for future events and check in to see if your hotel is active.

Optimizing your profile is an important way you can maximize your visibility. Like hotel staffs, planners are overworked and understaffed, but they're still rescheduling events and sourcing for new ones. Because they're low on bandwidth, they're sending RFPs to venues that they can find easily and that have the information to all their questions readily available (without leaving the CSN platform).

In fact, according to CSN data, 76% of RFPs submitted through the platform come from Page 1 of the search results. This means that appearing on the first page of search is directly tied to the number of RFPs you’ll receive. Maintain or upgrade your Diamond listing – for example, 4 Diamonds received 34x RFPs on average for every 1 RFP a regular hotel listing received.

If that’s not realistic for your budget, you can still improve your visibility by making sure your profile includes all pertinent information that planners are looking for – the more complete your CSN profile, the more planners will see it. Make sure your venue details are correct, all amenities are updated, and images are added. Dependent on the individual situation of your hotel or property, work with your Cvent representative to determine what else you can do to increase your visibility.

Good Works: Hotels support employees and medical workers on the frontlines

As great ideas help to restart group business, good works help us survive and stay positive during times of struggle. This week, our good works focus on how hoteliers are supporting their employees and medical workers in their communities.

Tauzia Hotels distributes meals to select hospitals across Indonesia

Since March, several hotels in the Tauzia network have prepared and delivered cooked meals to doctors, nurses, and other health workers in hospitals appointed by the government to handle COVID-19 cases.

"During these unprecedented times, we realize the need to further unite and do our part as a socially responsible company in overcoming this health crisis and its impact around the nation,” Tauzia COO Patrick Vaysse said in a news release. “This meal distribution initiative is a way to express our gratitude and well-deserved appreciation for the healthcare professionals and we hope these meals can provide a bit of comfort during these trying times."

Tui Group hotels distributes aid for coronavirus workers

Tui Group hotels and resorts have distributed more than 25 tons of food to welfare organizations in destinations around the world. Donations have also come in the form of material goods and medical supplies: 40,000 gloves, 25,000 masks, and 5,000 liters of disinfectant and cleaning agents were provided to combat the spread of the virus.

The hotel brands are also joining in the recent wave of online experiences and entertainment and are offering various programs for guests to try at home. Tui Blue’s employees are sharing recipes from hotels around the world, teaching different languages, and showing exercise tips and tricks from the Bluef!t program. New content can be found on Tui hotel brands’ social channels.

Montage International supports employees with relief fund

Montage International started several initiatives to support associates across all properties. The program includes the Hearts of Montage Relief Fund, which guests can donate to directly or purchase gift certificates for a one-night stay through May 15, 2021. In addition, the company will sponsor the distribution of meals and care packages for families at all Montage and Pendry properties two times a month.

The company also rolled out new weekly programming, including professional development programs, recipes and cooking demos, yoga, meditation, story time with author Brad Meltzer, and more.

CSN Insights: What the data says

Sourcing in the Americas

In our webinar, The Cvent Source: Group Business Insights, we talked about sourcing trends at a global level and provided some information on key markets. We’ve taken a closer look at how things break down in the Americas. As can be expected, we’ve seen drops in sourcing volume across the board, but sourcing for U.S. locations has held up a bit better than other regions in the Americas. Caribbean locations are similar to the U.S., just slightly lagging. Canada, Mexico, and Central America are a bit below the Caribbean, and Latin America has seen the steepest drop to date. 

Response times

As hoteliers deal with reduced staff onsite for a period of time, it’s understandable that we’ve seen response rates for RFPs drop 5-7 percentage points through the middle of April. We’ve since taken a first look at response times to understand any impacts. The story to date has been mixed – in the U.S. and the Caribbean, we’ve seen response times actually improve around 20%. In Europe, response times are 20-25% higher. We’ll be looking at this more closely to see if we can understand the underlying drivers of these differences between regions. In the case of improving response times in the U.S. and the Caribbean, it could be due to more (and faster) turn downs for specific arrival date ranges. We will be in touch with more findings and trends as we learn more.

The Cvent Source: Group Business Insights

On Friday, April 17, we hosted the first of a monthly series of webinars dedicated to providing insights – just like the ones above – on the group business landscape as you plan for a rebound to your meetings and events business. 

The webinars are based on proprietary data from the Cvent Supplier Network (CSN), overall meetings and events trends, and observations from proven third-party experts in the hospitality space. We discussed:

  • A profile of how 2020 sourcing has changed.
  • When planners seem to think live events will return.
  • How major group/MICE markets in the US and Europe are holding up.

Watch the recording here. The next Cvent Source Webinar is scheduled for Friday, May 15.

Use this information about hotel sales during COVID-19 to win future business

Even though times are tough in the second quarter of 2020, RFPs are still being sent. Be sure to utilize RFP response best practices and maximize your visibility with planners to set yourself up for success, and don't forget about all of the good works happening across the industry. Remember: The only way through is together.

For more good works and great ideas, check out last week’s post, How Hotels Can Stay Prepared for Business After COVID-19. And be sure to check back next Friday for the latest edition of this series.

How can we help?

Megan Boley

Megan Boley

Megan is a published web writer and editor with a passion for crafting stories. She specializes in planning and creating content across all platforms for brands and organizations, with a focus on demand generation.

In her free time, she's a voracious reader and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

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