For many planners, the RFP sourcing process can feel like a game of chess with Bobby Fischer. You make a move, they counter. They taunt, you renegotiate. But what happens when you’ve sourced a handful of RFPs and the hotels finally respond. Now it’s time to perform your side-by-side comparisons and determine which property is your best fit? Which property will meet your needs the most?
With the fifth most stressful job in the world, planners are faced with daily challenges that continue to pile higher and higher. Just selecting a venue is a feat in itself, and it’s one of the first steps toward producing a successful, memorable meeting or event. Planners often receive advice and tips on what to include in their RFP, but it’s not always as clear on how to navigate once you’ve received the hotels’ responses.
Here’s a snap shot of how to narrow down your venue selections with these tips for side-by-side comparisons:
1. The date is set! Or is it?
Timing is everything. When you review your RFP, of course you’ll check to see if the hotel is able to accommodate the dates you selected. Hopefully you offered some flexibility surrounding the dates, and if so, look to see if the difference in cost is worth the hotel’s new proposed date. If it is, then you may want to play ball. If not, it might be time to consider another venue.
When you’re performing your side-by-side comparisons, it often gets down to the nitty-gritty—with each hotel offering different dates and requested features, leaving you to decide which are most important. Perhaps one of your requests is convenient location to great shopping and entertainment and one property has it (yay!), but another has the concessions you really want like wi-fi and VIP upgrades. What’s a planner to do? You’ll have to weigh out your options and decide which amenities are most important to you. Decide which features are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves. Which features would make or break the meeting. Once you’ve narrowed down what you absolutely cannot live without vs which features would just be icing on the cake, your decision might not be as difficult as you think.
3. Just this once, listen to the online rumors.
Hopefully you did your research before you sourced these venues, but if not, it’s time to take a closer look at what previous customers have said about the property. Check online reviews and take heed in the word-of-mouth responses from other industry professionals. You can usually scope out a property’s reputation fairly easily. How many stars do they have? What have other planners’ experiences been? Scroll through the comments and get a feel for customer satisfaction. This step can especially help you when you’re down to two properties, that both meet your requested dates, amenities and cost. If enough people say the same thing about a property, there’s a good chance it’s true. Something to think about.