• Escalate Your RFP

     
    FROM THE Fall 2014 ISSUE
     

    The changing landscape of the meetings and events industry requires planners to be on target when seeking venues.

The meetings marketplace is currently in a major shift from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market in the fifth year of a hotel recovery cycle. On a national average, the hotel industry has seen occupancy levels rise from 54 percent to almost 63 percent since 2009. In many major markets like Las Vegas, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., the occupancy rates are much higher. According to PKF Hospitality, RevPAR (revenue per available room) has increased approximately 6 percent per year for the past four years, and the 2014 forecast calls for a RevPAR growth of 6.6 percent.

Additionally, very few new hotels have been built since 2009. Currently, there is less than 1 percent new supply scheduled for 2014, which is well below the 2 percent long-term average. Meanwhile, many hotel sales departments are still operating with reduced staff. What does this mean for the meeting planner? With reduced staff, les availability and fewer new hotels opening, the combination has resulted in increased difficulty finding space for programs.

HOW TO MAKE AN RFP STAND OUT
DATES » List potential dates in order of preference. I would recommend listing three to four sets of dates at a minimum. Can your meeting take place over certain holidays? More and more groups are open to meeting over Mother’s Day or Halloween; hotels usually offer a discount during these times. Also, find out if your group is open to arriving on a Sunday, which is the slowest day of the week. If your group usually meets Mondays through Thursdays, could they consider a different pattern in the future? The more dates and options you give the hotel, the greater chance of finding an available set of dates. Also be open to a multiyear contract. Locking in your dates for the next two or three years can really help your organization, and the rates will probably be lower than waiting to rebook after each annual program.

RATES » If you cannot pay above $200, do not send your RFP to New York City during peak season. Instead, consider meeting in the surrounding areas. For example, in New Jersey there are many great hotels that offer room rates well below New York City’s rates. You can find similar situations by meeting in Oakland instead of San Francisco or Tacoma instead of Seattle. Also be sure to keep good rate history for your group. By listing the group’s room rate range at the top of your RFP, you can save yourself and hoteliers a lot of time.

PLATES » Know your food and beverage spend. Can you bring additional off-site events on-site to sweeten the deal for the hotel? Knowing your group’s ancillary revenue is also important. Does the group run a golf tournament or do they use the spa? Are there ICW (in conjunction with) group events such as sponsor breakfasts, lunches, receptions or dinners that could take place at the hotel? All of these factors are considered when hotel sales departments analyze your group’s revenue potential.

Finally, knowing your decision timeline is increasingly important because hotels often have first-option, second-option and sometimes third-option groups lined up. If you can sign a contract quickly, you have a major advantage when compared with other groups.

Bill Light is a hotel sales and marketing veteran with more than 25 years experience. He has spent the past eight years with Associated Luxury Hotels International, and has also worked for Starwood, Sheraton and Renaissance Hotels

Whether a team is still working from home, or has made a phased return to the office, the past few months have seemed monotonous with not as many in-person meetings and events to break up work weeks. Meeting with a group boosts motivation, and Zoom meetings can’t compare when it comes to rallying morale. After months at home, planning small meetings and corporate getaways away from home is a great way to motivate and revitalize a team’s performance–especially when the destination provides all of the benefits that Colorado offers.

 

As working from home has become the norm since March, so has connecting with coworkers using webcams and Skype. Button downs and sweatpants have become a work-friendly outfit, and Zoom happy hours were the only way to grab a drink with friends. Especially for teams that used to meet in the office every day, a chance to shake up the (new) same old and safely reconnect in person is much needed after months apart. An out-of-state trip could be a memorable way to sync up with coworkers again, as well as do wonders for motivation and productivity upon return.

 

So far, webcams and Zoom meetings have been an essential part of 2020. While digital options are functional placeholders for meetings, chatting with a coworker over Skype doesn’t always set up a team for success. Human connection is vital to team building, and hosting safe, small meetings is a great way to revitalize teams after months of working from home.