Monday, August 19, 2013

Responding to RFP’s

Electronic RFP’s are a standard in the event planning industry. Meeting planners can contact several potential properties with the click of a button, resulting in overloaded in boxes in the sales department. As a result, the vast majority of sales offices fall short on response times, even when it is a hot lead for low demand dates.

More often than not, those who inquire about dates that are sold out, or those that have needs that cannot be met at this time by the property, fail to receive any response. This leaves the meeting planners hanging and leads to frustration and complaints, not to mention a loss of any future business from that client. It seems that at most booking properties, no one responds anymore to say, “We are fully committed for your requested dates, but if your plans are flexible we would welcome a chance to look at other options.” Few if any respond to say “Since your meeting space cannot accommodate a group of this size, we do hope you will keep us in mind when you are planning smaller meetings.”

Here are a few tips to help get more mileage from RFP’s – even if your property is not available:
1.    Respond promptly to all inquiries, even those for which you have no inventory or otherwise cannot meet their specifications. Plans change as meeting details are finalized, and many planners are involved with multiple meetings. A well worded response indicating those dates are not available that provides the planner with alternate dates and a description of what you can offer may make the difference for another meeting date. Utilize your word processing software or brand resource tools to develop templates to streamline the process so every planner receives a response, whether you can accommodate the proposed dates or not. 
2.    Never assume that your property isn't right for a prospective client or that your rates will be too high. Limiting yourself to this mindset could result in missing out on potential future business if the planner coordinates multiple events with different requirements. 
3.    Even if you have hosted an event or group in the past, don’t assume they will choose your facility without receiving a response from you. Perhaps the planner’s objectives for the event have changed or they are not aware of a recent upgrade to your property. Taking the time to send an appropriate response such as “since your last event we now offer (new item) and look forward to continuing to serve you needs.” 
4.    Just because you did not win the bid for an event in the past does not mean you shouldn’t respond to future bids. Consider that although you may not have gotten business in the past, you don't know that organization didn't recently have a problem at the hotel that did get the business. So, always respond.

Need more ideas? Contact the Kankakee County CVB for more information on responding to RFP’s.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Attention Grabbing Strategies for Your Event

Build Local Interest- From the use of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) to partnering with events, the power of grassroots efforts cannot be overstated. 

Think Strategy- Timing is everything when trying to secure local media coverage and encouraged planners to write and distribute press releases to local media groups a few weeks before the event as a general rule.  Strategy  plan your announcement so it is more likely to get picked up. Follow–up is important as well. Following up press releases with a media advisory the day of the event and incorporating as much local focus as possible.  Try to find a unique or interesting local angle. People are more inclined to attend an event if they care about it and can find some local connection. 

Leverage Social Media- Quickly gaining mainstream acceptance, event social media is a great way to gain publicity. Start a few weeks out/check Twitter and Facebook feeds of local media and bloggers. Social media platforms make it easy to search topics and open conversations that bridge the community to the event. 

Brand Carefully- The Branding of the image can go a long way toward attracting attention on its own. You want people to be able to see your signage, website, advertisements and promotional items and automatically know who you are without having to read the logo. Keep a common theme in your Brand. 

Generate Excitement-Keep the promotional momentum going during the event. There is a lot of energy and excitement missed when there is not a welcome party or opening night banquet. Communities need something to rally around. 

For more ideas, contact the Kankakee County CVB!