The Hidden Value of Venue RFP’s
The value of the event industry venue RFP process has been often debated. We understand what is necessary from an event planners’ perspective: make the request simple, clear, and concise for the venues. And venues understand the perceived benefits of the venue RFP's: an increase in bookings.
It’s unfortunate, but this doesn’t always necessarily seem to ring true. The process is a bit more complicated; as we’ve touched on before. However, let’s think for a moment on the benefits that the RFP process can bring to your venue (even if the initially proposed event doesn’t take place).
Your venue sales staff may be constantly inundated with RFP submissions but there’s significant value in those submissions. And there’s a better way to navigate through the over-abundance of proposals. When a venue RFP is submitted there is a wealth of information about the client that is given directly to your sales staff. It’s like serving up money on a silver platter...
CAPTURED OPPORTUNITIES (AND SOMETIMES LOSSES)
Think for a minute on how your web proposals are handled once they are received. What is your standard process? How quickly do they receive a response? Is that response a follow-up phone call, an email, or nothing at all? We’ve seen that a number of venues receive submissions and an automated email goes out with a “projected” follow-up time. We’ll use the term “projected” loosely here as we’ve also come across some venues that will only reach out if there’s extra time in the day (and I think we can all agree, that’s rarely the case).
Even if it is easy to determine early on that your facility will not meet the needs of the customer, do you have a system of storing that information? For example: a customer requests a room for a Christmas banquet but doesn’t submit the proposal until December 1 (eek!), they’re informed that the space is unavailable but is that the end of the relationship? It doesn’t have to be. If their information is entered into a database, a member of your sales staff can be alerted the following year sometime in October to reach out to them.“We saw that you were interested in our space for your holiday function last year and though we couldn’t accommodate you then, we wanted to reach out to you now. If you’re interested in the space, please contact Ms. So-and-so and we’ll schedule a meeting!”
VENUE RFP’S AND SALES PROCESSES
In order to make the venue RFP process a success, there is much more to consider than an email response or phone call. With the level of automation that we currently possess at our fingertips, the efforts that we put into RFP calculations can be greatly minimized and pressure on staff alleviated. By establishing a more concise sales pipeline, the opportunities to better serve best-fit customers will emerge. With a structured system in place, the requirements of the submitter and the offerings of your venue can be compared before the sales staff even opens the file. The potential client’s information is still captured but it can be determined early on whether or not you’re a fit for that particular event.
We talk often about the importance of the data that you may not be considering and how it can make a difference. And that remains true for the proposals that you receive even if they don’t turn into bookings. It’s important to understand the reach that your web presence has. You may receive a significant amount of leads from the web but when only 6% of them result in bookings, you can determine that your online marketing efforts aren’t targeting the right audiences.
IT’S NOT A HASSLE, IT’S VALUE
It seems that the view of RFP’s in the events business can come with hesitation and distaste, but when the process can be made more efficient, there is incredible value. This is but a small piece of a larger picture. In order to make the overall process beneficial, there must be efforts in place to understand the offerings of your venue, a sales process to correlate, and a system to make it all come together.