Automating the Sales Process for Simple Meetings

By John Arenas Chief Executive Officer, Worktopia | October 28, 2008

With today's advanced technology, there is no longer a need for your sales team to spend time engaging in lengthy RFP responses for simple meetings for up to 100 participants. Through the use of a web based meeting booking engine, customers and meeting planners can now literally search , compare live quotes and request bookings that include meeting space, catering and amenities themselves. This means hotel sales teams can focus on customers who have already been pre qualified on budget, timing and space needs. This article shows you how to reduce sales and marketing costs associated with meetings up to 100 participants, while serving these high value, customer relationships.

$24 Billion Opportunity

After all, meetings for under 50 participants represent $24Billion in revenue to hotels each year. With encouragement from corporate customers, the travel industry is migrating to on-line procurement solutions for small meetings. From Sales and Catering System vendors like Micros Fidelio's Opera and Newmarket International's Delphi to Global Distribution Systems like Sabre and Worldspan, and booking engines like Worktopia, the market place for meetings is getting connected and coming on line. Meeting and event booking capability is a welcome improvement from the longstanding practice by meeting planners of creating requests for proposals and submitting them with the hope of receiving a timely response.

RFP Avalanche

Hotels can't be faulted for this gap between customer expectation and delivery. The advent of electronic RFPs, has meant that customers have an ability to submit requests to multiple hotels, quickly and efficiently, even if it was simply to conduct research or consider a remote possibility. Hotels dutifully responded to eRFPs until the avalanche of requests overcame them. With no way to qualify the requests, hotels resorted to answering only the proposals that they felt were suited in terms of size, budget, timing and facility requirements. Add to this a growing number of eRFP channels and there in lies the challenge, plenty of inquiry, no way to prioritize it or manage it. Enter inquiry management tools like Newmarket International's Meeting Broker, meeting space booking engines like Worktopia, Hilton's eEvents and Hyatt's eMediate Meetings.

The Current Off-line booking process for simple meetings is evolving away from a telephone and RFP based system toward a connected marketplace, providing hotels with access to new distribution channels for reaching and serving customers.

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