The concept of eRFPs (or electronic requests for proposal) has led to many hotels getting inundated with potential business. As with those in many types of commerce, some of these leads are promising and require immediate action while others will—in the long run—really lead nowhere at all. So, how does hotel management decide which eRFPs to handle with expediency, and which ones to ignore altogether? In truth, the answer comes down to what your hotel can handle and your individual business’s needs. In general, the best ways to sort the worthwhile eRFPs from the less promising ones comes down to the numbers.
The Numbers Game
The biggest factor in figuring out which eRFPs are solid is the number of properties that have been solicited. Some businesses ask for proposals from every hotel with a vending machine and a flight of stairs: in other words, the eRFPs are widespread and submitted to numerous chains in several different cities. Because there are over 5 million hotel rooms in North America alone, the competition can be fierce. Business is often a numbers game and when the competition is extreme, the odds of you landing that contract dwindle.
Of course, knowing how many hotels were included in the solicitation can be difficult. Some eRFPs disclose the number up front, others leave you guessing. But, when it comes to the latter, you can get a sense of solicitation numbers by talking to other properties in your hotel chain. Were several properties solicited? If so, odds are you can consider that what you received was a mass solicitation, and you can feel free to deal with it the same way you would other internet spam.
On the flipside, if you are one of just a few businesses that have been solicited, you need to act immediately, ideally within hours. Being one of four or five businesses who received a specific eRFP is promising and gives you a solid chance to land that business. A good rule of thumb is to correlate your response time to the number of hotels solicited: if you are one of two hotels, try to respond within five hours; if you are one of four hotels, try to respond within ten hours.
Another way to sort good eRFPs from bad ones is to ask about specifics. When you receive a proposal, ask what the company is specifically looking for. If a company wants a 2,000 square foot conference room and your hotel has one that is only 1,000 square feet, you will know right away that the proposal isn’t worth pursuing. On the other hand, if the hotel is requesting something you do have, you’ll know that you may have a leg up on the competition.
Another part of inquiring after the specifics is to ask when they anticipate making a final decision. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a sign-on-the-dotted-line date, but rather a date of when they will announce the hotels that have made the shortlist. If this date is well into the future, you have some time to respond to the eRFP, but if it’s just a week away, you’ll have to act quickly.
The final way to determine if an eRFP should be followed up on has to do with disclosure: when you received the eRFP, how much information about the competition was included? If virtually none was included, the eRFP could be difficult to work with. But if the exact number of solicitations was included or—better yet—the names of the competing hotels are listed, you’ll know exactly what you’re working with.
Knowing more details about the eRFPs that are submitted to your business will help you decide which are the most important to respond to. When possible, ask for specifics about what the business needs, try to find out how many other properties received the same eRFP, and figure out when a final decision will be made.