Oh what a difference technology makes. Sourcing the right venue for a meeting or conference used to require lots of paperwork, phone calls and research for both sides of the negotiation table, but the era of eRFPs has revolutionized the process. With just a few hours and a few clicks, planners can send requests to venues around the world. However, it’s no secret that the ease of the eRFP has created plenty of challenges, too.
To address these challenges, the Global Business Travel Association Meetings Committee and the Convention Industry Council APEX Workgroup have issued a joint white paper that documents the state of eRFPs and offers solutions for making the technology more efficient and effective. Here’s a preview of five key recommendations planners can follow to keep hotel partners happy.
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1) Know where you’re going to take your group.
When possible, meeting professionals should select the host destination before sending the eRFP. The authors of the white paper recommend conducting an air analysis of prospective host cities to determine the total cost of the event and ease of travel for attendees.
2) If you don’t know where you’re going, keep your destinations down to a minimum.
Because determining just one destination prior to issuing the eRFP may be challenging for some organizations, the white paper suggests narrowing the list of consideration cities to a maximum of three.
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3) Keep your venue list very short, too.
No matter how many cities are on your consideration list, the GBTA and CIC experts recommend limiting the number of venues to just three to five in each destination. If the numbers start to stretch much higher, the process may drive rates higher due to the massive number of proposals each venue must complete.
4) Information is everything.
Most planners have an arsenal of information about the history of their meetings, and it plays a crucial role in helping hotel partners respond to eRFPs. So what should you include? From past F&B costs and Internet bandwidth usage to your desired room rate range for the upcoming meeting to the concessions you’re hoping to receive, the white paper offers a complete list of the information that helps hoteliers make better decisions about group business opportunities.
5) Talk to your CVB partners.
While it’s easy to make assumptions about seasonal demand patterns, it’s important to consult with the CVB in each prospective host city to get a better gauge of local room demand among both business and leisure travel before issuing the eRFP. You’ll have a better idea of whether your room block and room rate expectations are realistic for the market.
Download the full white paper here for a complete look at recommendations on processes and technology that can help improve eRFPs. After you’ve had a chance to read, comment below to weigh in with your thoughts. Whether you’re a planner or a supplier, what do you like and loathe about eRFPs? What can you and your partners do to make it better?