According to the 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers’ study “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy”, the meetings industry accounts for the direct spending of $280 billion annually, with $39 billion being spent on on accommodations, $30 billion on food and beverage and $10 billion on venue rental. Increased meeting spend, a trend since 2012, has led to an ever-growing number of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that meeting planners are sending to hotels on a daily basis.

How can hotels manage this onslaught of incoming requests? Some hotels feel they must decide between hiring an army of sales managers or missing out on the opportunity to increase yield and revenue per available room. Ideally, the solution would be a lot simpler. Advancements in electronic RFP technology have finally given hotels the ability to streamline, automate, and curate RFP responses, giving each request the attention and personalization it requires to secure that business.

To get a better sense of this new technology, Skift is taking a look at one electronic proposal delivery system, eProposal®, which is just one solution provided by our partner, Cendy/EVENTS.

How it Works
The RFP Tool Kit® lets you collect and store assets, including sample menus, rich media, photos and videos and sort them according to your audience. Wedding videos go with sample wedding menus, meeting photos go with banquet and meeting break menus and so on.

Cendyn’s electronic proposal delivery system (eProposal®) lets you create a detailed proposal, picking from a menu of stored collaterals, and room and event blocks that can be customized, edited and signed.

It works in 5 easy steps:
1. Compose, or personalize your stored welcome message
2. Select the event collateral to include in your proposal
3. Add a room block
4. Add an event block
5. Review and send

Why Does RFP Technology Work for Planners?

RFP technology addresses the unique challenges of the on-demand economy, which has altered consumer expectations toward instant gratification and immediate access to all goods and services. In today’s business environment, event planners expect an immediate response, and they get frustrated when it takes a week or more to receive a completed proposal. However, it’s important to note that it isn’t just about how fast a property responds to an RFP inquiry, the response also needs to address the needs and requirements of all the event stakeholders, while exceeding their expectations of great service and amenities.

RFP technology addresses both of these concerns by allowing hotels to respond quickly to inquiries with a curated proposal showcasing their property in the best possible light and reflecting the uniqueness of the attendee experience.
The ability to answer quickly and with a personalized response generates loyalty in the form of an emotional connection to hotel brands — planners feel as though their need for immediacy and personalization are being met.

Beyond response time: The Curation and Streamlining the RFP Response

One hotel sales managers who uses Cendyn/EVENTS’ suite of solutions detailed an instance when he was able to secure an event in just one phone call. While listening to the planner talk about the requirements for the meeting he wanted to organize, the sales manager logged all of the details into eProposal®, and customized it to include the catering menu, venue pictures, and room reservations for the entire group. The sales manager sent the proposal to the planner before they hung-up the phone. The planner was so impressed that he booked the meeting right away.

Speed, agility and perfection are in high demand when it comes to responding to RFPs. The ability to easily make edits on the fly, the assurance that responses are on-brand and up to date with relevant content is key to success. However, it’s also the insightful dashboard within the RFP Tool Kit® that provides data that can lead to profitable revenue growth.

The Impact: Measuring the Before and After of Electronic RFPs

Our sponsor, Cendyn, recently conducted a case study of two major global chains who implemented and white labeled their RFP RFP Tool Kit®. The first is a global hospitality company, with 11 industry leading brands, and a worldwide portfolio of 600+ properties in 50+ countries. The second is a leading global hospitality company that spans the lodging sector from luxury resorts and full-service hotels to extended-stay suites and focused-service hotels. Their portfolio includes 12 widely recognized global brands and an award-winning customer loyalty program.

In both cases, both companies found significant gains when comparing the hotels’ average response times and response rates before and after they began using Cendyn’s RFP Tool Kit®:

● Average Response Time was 49 times faster — it dropped from 19 days to just 9.35 hours.
● Response Rate increased from a 12% to a whopping 93.7%.

Data Drives Results for Group Sales too

It’s a given that by using RFP technology that makes it easier to complete responses faster and better, you will increase the likelihood of a sale being made —responding to more RFPs means more business being won. That said, the idea that more is always better should be approached with caution. It is crucial that hotels step back and verify that they are pursuing and winning the right kind of group business.

With groups, there is always a gamble associated with offering discounted group rates upfront to incentivize the sale, the thought being that the loss will be more than offset by an increase in ancillary revenues once the event attendees are on property (meeting space rental, F&B). Rather than taking that gamble blindly, it is crucial to analyze actual data to give the hotel group sales department the confidence to be selective with RFP responses. Ultimately, generating new group revenue will be a result of knowing which types of groups business to should seek and when. This valuable insight, combined with the right RFP technology, takes profitable revenue growth to the next level.

Learn more about Cendyn’s RFP Tool Kit®