Joan Eisenstodt answers additional questions from the 04.27.16 Site Selection: Finding the Right Fit webinar.
Q1: I would like a copy of your RFP template! Where can I access this?
A1: I needed this nudge! I need to clean up and redo the RFP template and response sheets. I promise by early July to have them ready. We'll figure out a way to post them.
Q2: When sending out your RFP, do you recommend first sending it to the local CVBs and waiting for a response or instead sending directly to hotels that you are interested in?
A2: It depends. I have initial response sheets that I send with the RFP to DMOs and to hotel GSOs unless the client ONLY wants one or two specific hotels in one city.
The response sheets have timelines for what and when.
Q3: For the negotiation portion of the site visit, is it important during the inspection to mention that the destination is in review or is confirmed?
A3: Ah! Good question. Being transparent is important at every step. The parties sending proposals need as much information as possible so they can provide what you need at the get-go.
Q4: When the DMO or vendors ask for the amount of budget before the quotation, is it correct to let them know or wait for the quotation?
A4: It's a tough call, right? I recommend giving a range of rates or budget and not whether it's inclusive (of tax, service and other charges) or exclusive. Again, the more information provided upfront the better the proposal and the faster we all can make decisions.
Q5: I have a convention that is slightly a “space hog” compared to my room block. Many hotels don't seem to want to even offer a proposal ... any advice?
A5: Did you hear my sigh?! Here's the thing: our industry hasn't caught up on the hotels and convention centers rooms:space ratio while we are looking at education delivery that often does take more space. I mean, maxing out a room is not necessarily in the best interest of education.
So 1. Let's all try to educate each other about why (hmm … good blog topic maybe?) and 2. Consider budgeting to pay for meeting space. For venues it's a matter of wanting to maximize their revenue for the available space. Explain why you need the space and then see what you can negotiate.
And this may take time to explain to your organization why space is not necessarily free.
Q6: I'm finding that our annual venue of choice is increasing our room rates year after year (while their competitors are not). Do you recommend a specific way to make the request for them to keep those rates level and have them honor it?
A6: For this I need more information. I'm going to email you and see if I an offer some recommendations.
Q7: Due to the high demand at hotels: I would not request a contract with the hotel unless I am 99% sure that the client will select this property. It seems that the best way to keep the first option on the space by requesting and working on the contract. If there is a second group interested in the space over the same dates already have a good contract in place and hopefully the contract will be signed and returned in 72 hours. Do you consider this good business practice?
A7: IF I'm reading this correctly, it sounds like you are negotiating in order to keep a group on first option even if you're not sure you'll go to final contract.
And that you are doing this to keep the group's options open. IF I understand it correctly, my gut says there may be ethics issues you want to think about in so doing.
Q8: What about asking for complimentary Internet where the hotel doesn't offer it, especially when it's controlled by a third party vendor?
A8: It is said that you can ASK for anything! There are some things for which a hotel is (more) willing to negotiate. When they may not have control over all the pricing—like this or for, say, parking, you can ask and see what they say. I advise having a good checklist of what are necessities and what are wants and what is most important.
Q9: If their staff is rude or unprofessional when you're at a site inspection do automatically rule that site out or do you give them a chance?
A9: WOW! This sounds awful! So first, when you schedule the site inspection, in addition to sending your checklist of what you want to see and do, send a full agenda for the time including with whom you want to meet. The worst case I've ever experienced—one that caused me to say “thank you and this site inspection is concluded” involved a director of CS who was rude to line staff. I asked him why. He said “They work for me; I don't have to be nice.” So without knowing the specifics, it's hard to say.
IF the site is your only or best option or one of a very few, I'd stop and say "I observe..." and say what you see, making it objective. And if their answer is not satisfactory, AND you have options, I'd walk. IF you think they are having a bad day and even if their answer isn't great, I'd continue AND when you rate and rank all the items on your list, consider this.
It could be part of how they operate which you don't want for your meeting.
Q10: Where do you go to get the bed bug check? Ask the hotel or go to a website?
A10: Both! Ask the hotel about when they last had a bedbug check; when they do so regularly; and then check any number of sites where you can find bedbug information.