January 18, 2023
By Kim Campbell

Reviewing, assessing, and responding to leads is a vital duty of any hotel or event venue’s sales team. The process, however, can be incredibly time-consuming and tedious. Reading lengthy requests, checking availability, calculating potential profits, and preparing quality proposals can eat up a large chunk of the day. In an effort to streamline the proposal process and win more business, many venues have turned to RFP response automation for help.

In this guide, we’ll dissect RFP response automation and how it works. In addition to discussing what response automation is and why it’s such a powerful tool, we’ll explore how hotels and event venues can benefit from automated lead management.

Discover the benefits of RFP response automation

From organizing RFPs and evaluating leads to calculating bids and generating proposals, hoteliers, sales directors, venue managers, and other hospitality professionals can benefit from RFP response automation.

What is RFP response automation?

RFP response automation is the process of establishing a set of rules, guidelines, and goals that allows intuitive software to respond to leads on your behalf. Response automation condenses the lead response process so that your team can quickly review, analyze, and bid on group business. Hotels and event venues who automate their RFP proposal process can boost their lead response time, increasing the number of proposals they send out while reducing the time it takes to send them.

How does RFP Response automation work?

Automated RFP management systems gather data, analyze it, and use that data analysis to generate intelligent lead proposals. While automated systems use complex algorithms and calculations to determine a proposal price, the process itself is actually quite simple. In fact, there are only two primary stages in RFP response automation: lead evaluation and response.

Stage 1: Automated lead evaluation

In the lead evaluation stage, automation tools assess and rank incoming RFPs based on a venue’s availability, booking history, the size of the group, profit potential, and other key factors. RFPs are analyzed and evaluated to determine whether the group is a good fit based on the venue’s occupancy, pickup history, established lead response guidelines, and real-time market insights.

Stage 2: Automated response generation

Venues establish RFP response automation guidelines to determine how automated their proposal process will be. Receive automated rate suggestions, alternate availability options, and market insights to help your sales team draft intelligent proposals quickly.

During crunch time, let automated tools manage the system entirely by evaluating leads, auto-generating proposals, turning down business, and communicating with planners on your behalf. On average, planners send RFPs to ten different venues. Responding late, or failing to respond at all, could drive valuable business into the arms of the competition.

Response automation tools utilize pre-loaded proposal selections, real-time competitive market data, and automated booking analysis to significantly reduce the time required to craft high-quality and professional proposals. Moreover, automating tedious parts of the RFP response process can reduce the risk of manual entry errors and connect with planners before the competition.

Can Cvent help with RFP response automation?

Busy venue directors, sales managers, and other hospitality professions turn to Cvent’s Response Automation to revolutionize their proposal process. Response Automation is part of a suite of complex RFP analysis systems and tools designed maximize efficiency and drive profits by assisting venues with the lead review and response process.

Using Response Automation tools, your sales team can:  

1. Evaluate and prioritize incoming RFPs with the Lead Evaluation Engine.
2. Speed up the bid process with automated RFP responses.
3. Propel team, venue, and business growth.

From hotels and resorts to conference centers and wedding venues, Cvent’s Response Automation system streamlines the RFP proposal process for a wide variety of event venues.

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How does the Lead Evaluation Engine prioritize RFPs?

Cvent’s Lead Evaluation Engine scores RFPs, prioritizes leads, and directs lead flow using sophisticated, intuitive software. The engine scores every lead that a property receives on a scale from A+ to F. When the sales team logs in, they are able to instantly view all of their RFPs, scan the score of each lead, respond to the best requests, and get on with their day. Prioritizing leads can help sales teams see and respond to great pieces of business before their competitors.

The Lead Evaluation Engine can provide both integrated and non-integrated scores, enabling the software to rank leads whether your property has integrated management systems or not. Integrated Score tools work for venues who have integrated their sales and catering management system and property management system with Cvent to reflect up-to-date availability. On the other hand, Non-Integrated Score tools are for venues who receive Cvent RFPs but do not have the PMS and S&C integrations.

Cvent’s Integrated Score tools work on behalf of hotels and event venues with system integrations to gather historic group, rate, pace, and availability data. Combining current and historical venue data with corresponding data from the comp set, the Lead Evaluation Engine provides comprehensive, integrated scores for every RFP a venue receives.

How are automated lead scores generated?

Lead scores will be unique for each participating venue, and are determined based on the venue’s size, key features, amenities, available event space, revenue goals, and other self-determined factors. To determine the ultimate score each RFP receives, the engine uses an algorithm to identify how good the business is for your venue. The algorithm uses three lead sub-scores, in conjunction with venue availability and occupancy rates, to determine the final score a lead receives.

Lead Evaluation Engine Sub Scores

1. Group room night size and total revenue are used to calculate a lead’s Size Sub-Score. This sub score notes how well the size of the group and potential revenue produced suits the venue’s needs.

2. Profit per room night, meeting room revenue, and room rate are used to calculate the Profit Sub-Score, which measures how profitable the group will be and whether it will benefit the venue’s bottom line.

3. The final sub score, the Hotel Fit Sub-Score, determines how well the group stay will fit at your property. The group’s pace, booking pattern fit, and a ratio of space to guest rooms are used in the calculation of this sub score.

The Lead Evaluation Engine combines all three sub scores to produce an average lead score for the RFP. If your property has integrated management systems, the scoring algorithm will then factor in historical data to further refine the lead’s score.

Aggregate venue data generated by Cvent, in addition to valuable comp set data, combines with the lead’s sub scores to provide a final integrated lead score. Non-integrated properties will receive a non-integrated lead score formulated using historical venue data from Cvent, lead sub scores, and comp set data from the CSN.

How does Cvent help speed up the proposal process?

Save time and maximize efficiency with Response Automation. Cvent’s Response Automation software can help venues optimize their lead management strategy and streamline the proposal process.

Cvent’s suite of Response Automation software can help hotels and event venues:  

• Speed up business reviews.

Using Response Automation, hotels and special event venues can eliminate the need to rate shop the competition prior to bidding on an RFP. In addition to evaluating leads, the Lead Evaluation Engine provides additional insights that help venue directors determine an intelligent bid rate quickly. By analyzing the competition and current market conditions, automation tools gather and display your competitors’ bid range, highlighting the highest and lowest quotes offered by the competition, before providing a suggested bid rate for your venue.

Using historical demand and opportunity data gathered by Response Automation tools, integrated hotels are also able to review their estimated business to come. This metric is an estimate of how much RFP business the venue can expect to receive prior to the proposed group’s arrival data, helping the sales team make a thoughtful and informed decision. Bid quickly and with confidence by eliminating the need to rate shop the competition.

• Automatically turn down ill-fitting RFPs.

With the guidelines venues provide, the RFP response system automatically identifies leads that aren’t a good fit for your property. It then generates and sends a turn down response to the planner. Don’t get bogged down reviewing RFPs for groups that are too large, too low-budget, or are looking for a steep discount during your venue’s peak season; automate turndowns instead.

• Send high-quality proposals fast.

RFP Response Automation tools empowers sales teams with user-friendly tools for creating information-rich RFP responses that the competition cannot match. With customizable automation features, your team can select and set your own RFP response rules, design, and submit stunning proposals that help planners visualize exactly what an on-site experience at your venue is like. While automated drafting and pre-populating responses speed up the proposal process, outstanding template designs and proposal suggestions help venues craft responses that stand out to planners.

• Keep your team on track.

Keep the team focused and on-task when you auto-assign RFPs to team members and fast-track lead communications. Response Automation tools notify team members of all lead status changes, such as a new lead, a turned down request, or escalation notifications, ensuring no leads go unanswered. Furthermore, sales managers can view RFP changes, track the status of each RFP, and review performance metrics, such as team member response rates.

Join the hotel automation revolution

Drive growth with RFP response automation and productivity tools

In addition to lead evaluation and proposal generation, the tools and systems outlined in this guide can help venues achieve a wide variety of goals. Using Response Automation and CSN Productivity Tools, hotels and event venues can accomplish a myriad of tasks including:

• Organizing your leads

Cvent organizes incoming leads into three subgroups based on their sub scores: Hotel Fit, Size, and Profit. If an RFP falls into a particular subgroup, it reflects that the lead had a high sub score in the corresponding category. Based on sales strategies and future needs, the sales teams can look for potential business based on group size, revenue potential, profit margins, or venue need dates.

• Staying competitive

Keep a close eye on group business in your market. Track how well your hotel performs compared to the competition using Cvent’s Group Competitive Set Dashboard. From venue details to performance metrics, the Competitive Set Dashboard provides a comprehensive and easy-to-read outline of the properties in your competitive set.  

Similar to Response Automation tools, the dashboard relies on real-time data to provide hotels, special event venues, and other suppliers with valuable, real-time market insights. Using this data, the dashboard displays a plethora of valuable information that venues can use to track and analyze the competition.

With just a few clicks, venues can view a variety of competitor KPIs, including, but not limited to:  

Share percentage
Response rates
Bid ranges
Turndown rates
Conversion rates

Venues can also monitor competitors to track whether they receive their “fair share” of lead business based on overall demand in the market. The dashboard displays the comp set’s Received & Awarded Fair Share rates, highlighting the YOY difference in the “fair share” your competitors received this period compared to previous periods. With the help of these tools, hotels can review market trends and track how well their property is performing compared to the competition.

• Connecting with more planners

Thousands of planners and travel agents use the CSN for their venue sourcing needs. Cvent’s extensive Sales Intelligence Suite, which includes RFP response automation tools, was designed to help hotels connect with planners and drive more business. With these tools, your sales team can review planner sourcing habits, award history, average group size, and other interesting details to discover patterns in planner behavior.

Review RFP history to uncover leads and identify planners who have submitted RFPs to your property in the past. View “Your Top 5 Planners” to see which five planners have sent you the most RFPs, or save a list of your favorite planners for quick reference in the future.

• Saving frequent searches

Are you frequently searching for “Planners in NYC” or “Wedding Planners in VA”? Save your most common planner searches in the RFP management suite to view the planner results anytime.
 
• Booking more meetings

Cvent’s Instant Book allows planners to view live meeting room availability, select an event layout, and instantly book simple meetings at your venue.  Using pre-loaded contract templates and event diagramming tools, Instant Book sells meeting space for you. The system can confirm bookings, automatically generate banquet event orders, and help drive more revenue to your property.

You’re all set to benefit from RFP response automation

Now you have the knowledge and tools needed to set up RFP response automation at your property. Keep in mind that RFP response automation is about much more than speeding up the proposal process. In addition to maximizing efficiency, RFP automation can help drive revenue and grow your business.

In increasingly competitive markets, proactive hotel revenue management is as important as ever. Up next, we explore additional revenue management strategies that hoteliers can use to drive business to their property. Check out eight revenue management strategies designed to help hotels capture higher rates, track demand, improve forecasting, outshine the competition, and more.

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list. Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.
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