Timing Is Everything
In last week’s Zmail (see it here), I talked about the idea of RFP credibility and some key habits you should get into before sending the request to hotels.
This week, we’re going to continue down this same path and build even more credibility into your meeting RFP. Like before, we’re going to head behind the curtain and into the hotel sales office. This time, we’re going to take a seat at their daily business review meeting, better known to hotel folks as the Group Rooms Control review (GRC for short).
Band reunion season starts in early February and runs through forever.
The GRC log shows future meeting activity for each day of the year. Though each hotel company may have different meanings, generally the meeting status names are the same:
Definite (D): Group is contracted.
Tentative (T): Group has asked for a contract.
Prospect (P): Group has not made a decision, but the hotel is still in the mix.
During the GRC review, the hotel General Manager and Director of Sales focus on all of the Tentative and Prospect groups (those that aren’t yet contracted). And every salesperson has to come fully prepared to describe the details of these meetings: decision process and dates, closing strategies, etc.
The GRC Dance
General Managers and Directors of Sales are continuously looking at the GRC and questioning salespeople on the likelihood of their groups materializing. This “dance” that occurs over the GRC is critical to selling the hotel correctly. The issue comes when the salesperson can’t answer the questions being asked of them regarding their groups.
Derrick the DOS: “Sandy, what’s going on with Cindy Lauper’s meeting? It looks like we might be tight over Saturday night with the pre-rooms for KISS, Hall & Oates, and INXS. You’ll need to move quickly on this one.”
Sandy the Salesperson: “Captain, my captain, I’ve called 1,400 times, sent 37,000 emails, and even wrote their name in the sky, but I can’t seem to get a call back.”
Derrick: “Sandy, that’s not good enough. We need to know now so we can manage our sellout!”
And so it goes. The GRC dance is a painful process for those sales managers who are left in the dark about the progress of the meetings they’re working on. Here’s the big stat: This happens nearly 50% of the time – even higher when the meeting RFP is sent electronically.
Why is this important to you? It’s what’s not said during the GRC dance that can really hurt you. You want hotels talking about your business – a lot! You want hotel salespeople to be engaged and interested in your business. When they are, they’ll go to bat for you and fight harder knowing you’re engaged and interested in them. It’s when they stop talking about you and your meeting that you’ll find negotiations to be the most difficult. Meeting RFP credibility grows when your sales manager knows what’s going on and can communicate the progress.
Here Are Your Tips
Setting expectations with your hotels specifically about the booking and decision process for your meeting and following through with it will have an immediate impact (positive) on your meeting RFP credibility and will ensure your group will be the talk of the town.
- Tell your hotels when the RFP is due back to you. For most, this may already part of your process. I mention it only to remind you that this is important. The due date should be no longer than 3 or 4 days, even for the largest of meetings. Any longer and you risk losing some of the energy behind the conversation that would be happening about your meeting.
- Be clear on the exact date the decision is going to be made. And do your best to keep it within seven to 10 daysof the RFP due date. Why? The shorter the decision window, the harder the hotel will fight for your business. It’s the whole “bird in the hand” thing – they’re so close to winning your business that they’ll keep fighting to hold availability open! (Now, this doesn’t apply to associations and large user conferences that have committees and must make decisions 3-6 weeks after the RFP due date.)
- Send updates without being asked. Remind yourself to send detailed updates on the decision progress without the salesperson asking. Don’t worry if there’s not much to report. You’ll make a salesperson’s day if you just shoot them an email that reads, “Hey, wanted to let you know that everything is on schedule for the decision in 3 days. Your bid looks great.”
These three tips really help out the sales managers during their daily GRC dance, and they send a signal to the hotels that you’re serious. Work hard to keep them engaged and they’ll work even harder to bring your business to their hotel.
I can promise you this. If you do follow these tips, your meeting RFP will never again sit on the sidelines. Giving your sales managers the ammunition they need to keep the conversation going will deliver great results for you. And when it’s over, they'll be wishing every customer was like you.
Next week is the final Zmail in this series and will focus on the power of closing the loop with your hotels. Until then,
- Book your meeting with the hotel you really want
- Get complete bids from hotels on the first try
- How the hotel sales process works
- How to create a GREAT eRFP