Mulligan Management Group, LLC

5 Ways to Enhance Your RFP responses

Every hospitality marketing representative answers Request For Proposals (RFP) and is very familiar with the way to respond. Even though "dates and rates" are still part of the focus, it isn't the total package. Think of your RFP response as a way to tell your destination's story. Yes, it will take more time to accomplish -- but in the end --- it will hopefully yield your city or venue more group business. 

Here are 5 things planners ask for, the usual response, and tips to enhance your next response: 

PLANNER PICK #1: Event Date and a Few Alternatives

TYPICAL RESPONSE: Most CVB marketing or hotel sales personal look at the dates and either at this point move onto #2 or set the RFP aside because they do not have those dates available. 

ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: Call the meeting planner and discuss what dates you do have available. Try and determine if there is any flexibility with their company or association. Let them know there are savings to their bottom line if they can be flexible. If they still won't budge, thank them for their time and throw the RFP in the trash. 

PLANNER PICK #2: Number of Attendees, Meeting Rooms and Sleeping Rooms Required

TYPICAL RESPONSE: If your convention center or hotel isn't large enough to accomodate this group, again the RFP is discarded. 

ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: Perhaps you need to know more about the meeting before your respond. How many meeting rooms do they need and what size? Can you spread the meeting over several spaces instead of just one? If your hotel has the meeting space but not the hotel rooms, perhaps you work with another hotel next door on overflow? 

PLANNER PICK #3: Cities, States, and Areas of Interest 

TYPICAL RESPONSE: Looking at the cities the planner is considering puts a lump in your throat or a hi-five among office staff. Either you are slumping in your seat or feeling great you have good probability of a win. 

ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: Looking at all the other cities and states, put together a plus and minus page on your area compared to the competition. Tell your story by excentuating the pluses. Use referral quotes but most importantly tell the planner why they would want to meet in your fair city. Think of it this way: give them the story that makes it easy for them to persuade to their boss. 

PLANNER PICK #4: Venue Requirements

TYPICAL RESPONSE: Just the facts ma'am and lots of them. Number of meeting rooms, dimensions, sleeping room types, urban, suburban, or resort hotel. Amenities. Distance from the airport and shuttle service. Restaurants and bars on premise. 

ENHANCED RESPONSE: Find out more about the group. What are their interests? Are they bringing their spouse or significant other? Do they want to be downtown or out near the airport? What do they like to do after the meeting? Again, tell a story about your property and what makes it special, but tailor your response to their needs. 

PLANNER PICK #5: Food and Beverage 

TYPICAL RESPONSE: Usually the hotel staff includes every choice available to the planner or a very short listing of food and beverage choices. Neither alternative is particularly helpful to the planner.

ENHANCED ALTERNATIVE: If the planner is making a site visit, ask them to sample some of the menu ideas your banquet staff has come up with. If this is not possible, put together alternative menu choices for the days they are there. Determine if the group wants plated entrees or buffet style. Include healthy choices and local influences, including your choices in beverages.

In summary, it is important to cover the facts about your property and destination in your RFP, but equally important is the ability to sell it. Tell your story and don't be afraid to take risks. Sell the benefits of going to your destination, convention center, and hotel. The best way to advertise a convention center and hotel space is through the RFP process. Use it to tell your story! 

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