How Quick Responses To RFP’s Can Increase Your Group Sales

2011 IHSA Girls Track and Field State FinalsImagine you are competing in the 100 meter Olympics with the fastest men in the world. You’re sure to lose, right?

But what if you were given a ten second head start?

Now that would be one heck of a competitive advantage in a race that usually lasts ten seconds.

And that head start is exactly the kind of advantage you have when you respond to RFP’s quickly.

Most hotel sales managers don’t respond to group leads right away. Many of them will take days, if not weeks, to reply to an RFP.

And their delayed response gives you a tremendous advantage

In fact, the advantage is so prominent that over 75% of all proposals are won by the first five people to respond to an RFP. It’s the same reason why results one, two, and three are the most frequently clicked results when we do a Google search. They are the first ones we see, and those are the ones we click.

But why does responding quickly give such a huge advantage?

In order to understand why a quick response is so advantageous, let’s look at the process from a planner’s viewpoint. It’s likely that the person who is planning the event has spent hours (if not days) preparing the RFP. They, like everyone else, consider booking hotels a chore and want to get it over with. By responding quickly, you are satisfying their need to get the task done so they can move on.

But that is not the only signal you send when you respond quickly.

You also send the message that you really want their business

And isn’t that the kind of enthusiasm you want to come across when asking someone for their business? After all, if two hotels are evenly matched, who would you give the business to, the one that is eager or the one that is indifferent.

And that eagerness results in one more thing, getting your proposal read.

Being first in the queue ensures that the planner will read your proposal with a fresh set of eyes

After all, do you really want to be the tenth proposal that the planner is reading that day. After a while, they all sound the same. By sending your proposal in quickly, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of winning the bid.

Another advantage of being the early bird that that you end up narrowing your field of competitors. Just a few hotels will respond within the first few days and that golden time period is when you want to follow up with the group.

That’s when you want to develop some rapport and answer any of the group planners questions. In doing so, you’re going to set yourself up to be the hotel that the planner compares other hotels to. And at that point, it’s your competitors that will be playing catch up.

And they won’t even know it.

Now that you know why it’s important to respond quickly, let’s go over what “quick” means

It means responding to every RFP in less than an hour. When a planner sends out a proposal, they can expect only about half the hotels to respond. Among the hotels that do respond, most will do so in the first two to three days. Some really good ones will respond the next day. But you’re not looking to be like your competitors, are you?

In order to stand out, send a great looking, complete proposal in less than an hour and the planner will be shocked and surprised by your speed.

But isn’t an hour turnaround time a bit unrealistic

After all, some may argue proposals can take days to complete. And, for a small portion of proposals, that may be true. But for the majority of RFP’s we receive, an hour is plenty of time to respond. You just have to set up the right systems.

Here are four things you can do to speed up your response

  1. Set up proposal templates for different group types. Have proposals ready for wedding blocks, reunions, meetings, conferences, bus tours, and any other kind of group that comes to your hotel.
  2. Make sure you have templates for different room setups (if you have meeting rooms)
  3. Packages and banquet menus with pricing
  4. Create a price grid so you can quote group rates quickly without having to get approvals. Something like “If X number of rooms are being blocked, then the rate needs to be Y percent off BAR”.

Doing the above will speed up your turnaround time to less than a hour (in most cases). And being able to do so will provide an incredible, and impressive head start.

We’ve gone over quite a bit, so let’s summarize here

Responding to group proposals in less than hour will help your hotel win a lot of group business. Not only will you look more prepared, you will also give yourself the advantage of talking to the planner days before your anyone else. And that kind of head start will leave your competitors in the dust.

Both at the hotel and in the 100 meter race.

What should you do next?

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