The event and meeting industry is a fast paced world, much like the world of technology where one day it is focused on this and the next that. The focus could be on greening your meeting, helping the community, finding more value or simply contract negotiations and clauses. The real focus needs to shift and I mean for everyone (hoteliers, venue owners and planners), towards being more mutually transparent. Hoteliers need to be upfront on all the little things about costs and services. Planners need to be upfront on their needs and the budgets they are working with. I am willing to step up and say we all need a little work.
Mutual transparency needs to start from the first conversation you have together. Keep it simple and I don’t think this is asking much but be honest. If you cannot offer a service, tell them, if you need upgrades or must have items, tell them. Not being honest makes it difficult for everyone to do their job properly and work hand in hand making this industry successful.
Meeting planners, please (I’m begging on my knees) I have written about this in the past on RFPs but put everything in there that you want, need and dream about, the more the better. A little tip I have is that I would separate my concessions list into two categories: Must Have and Would Like. This tells the venue or hotel what you must have for this meeting, i.e. upgrades for VIPs, discounts on various items, commissions, or rates, it can be anything.
Your venue contact is not a mind reader and can only see what you have provided. The response and offer is always based on that valued piece of business you provided in the RFP. A difficult situation is when the piece of business is awarded based on the response and the planner comes back asking for more stating these additional requests are required and we must have them. In the end nine times out of ten the two come to an agreement and make it work but it would have saved time and a lot of back and forth if everyone was just honest and transparent up front.
Hoteliers, which includes myself, you know what the hot buttons are for meeting planners so be upfront and address those right away. It allows the planner to get the items they are focused on out of the way so they do what they do best and that is plan meetings in our hotels. Be honest on the pricing of your AV, Food and Beverage, everything. The biggest focus for the planner is not only a meeting taking place without a problem but staying within budget and proving the ROI.
Don’t sit on the opposite side of the table, sit on the same side and make it a win-win. Pick up the phone right away when you get an RFP and give a call to the planner and thank them. Inform them you received their RFP, looked it over, and wanted to find out what the top 3 most important things on it are. They should be honest with you because you are being upfront and honest with them. Mutual transparency is such a beautiful thing when done by everyone.
Take a moment. Sit back. Now think. Think about how your interactions take place with a planner or a hotelier. Is it good? Great? Could they be better? How do you think we can take this industry to the next level by working together to provide a more mutual transparent process of planning meetings?
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