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Insights from the Virtual Roundtable for Senior Sales Executives: Shaping the Future of the RFP Process

On May 29th, 2024, HSMAI Europe hosted a thought-provoking virtual roundtable for senior sales executives, moderated by Kostas Ioannidis of IHG Hotels & Resorts, alongside participants from the European and US hospitality landscape.  The roundtable focused on the future of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process in the hospitality industry. This meeting brought together industry leaders to share insights, discuss challenges, and explore potential improvements to streamline and enhance the RFP process.

Key Discussion Points

The roundtable revolved around three central questions:

  1. How would you describe the future of the RFP process in your own organisation?
  2. Which industry bodies should we involve in this discussion to disrupt the current RFP process?
  3. If you were granted three wishes on how best to handle the RFP process, what would they be and how would the answers to these wishes help?

The overarching goal was clear: simplify the RFP process to save time, reduce complexity, and make it easier for both hotels and customers to do business.

Future of the RFP Process

Participants highlighted that while some hotel chains have centralised and streamlined their RFP processes using tools like Salesforce and Cvent, there is still a significant amount of redundant effort. Many hotels find themselves redoing the same work annually instead of merely updating prices and key details, leading to substantial time wastage. The current system’s complexity and the lack of consistency across suppliers were also noted as major pain points.

The discussion underscored the need for a shift towards a more efficient, user-friendly RFP process. There was a consensus that the system must evolve to save time and reduce complexity. One proposed approach was to explore pricing models similar to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), which offer special prices of pure dynamic nature versus flat negotiated rates within the RFP process. This approach could potentially streamline rate management and offer greater transparency.

Participants also pointed out that in the US, there is a growing trend of clients negotiating directly with hotels, bypassing traditional systems. This trend could inspire a shift towards more direct and transparent negotiation processes globally.

Industry Bodies to Involve

Several industry bodies were identified as potential partners in disrupting the current RFP process, including GBTA, Cvent, Salesforce, and Amadeus. The inclusion of new revenue system suppliers and innovative Travel Management Companies (TMCs) was also suggested. Moreover, it was proposed that one or more global hotel chains could take the lead in developing a new system, leveraging their understanding of the existing system’s weaknesses.

Wishes for Improving the RFP Process

The participants outlined their top wishes for an improved RFP process:

  1. Reduce Redundancy: Eliminate the need to submit the same details every year. Instead, only necessary updates should be required.
  2. Increase Automation: Implement higher degrees of automation to streamline the process, coupled with the support of a dedicated contact person for assistance.
  3. Update Technology: Modernise the technology used in the RFP process, as many systems are still based on outdated technology from the 1980s. Incorporate sustainability into the process to align with current industry priorities.

These wishes highlight the need for innovation and modernization in the RFP process to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Conclusion

The HSMAI Europe virtual roundtable provided valuable insights into the future of the RFP process. By involving key industry bodies, embracing automation, and updating technology, the hospitality industry can significantly improve the RFP process. This, in turn, will save time, reduce complexity, and facilitate better business relationships between hotels and their clients. The discussions from this roundtable will undoubtedly contribute to shaping a more efficient and effective RFP process for the future.

This discussion will be continued on a local level as well.

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