You’re looking for a vendor for your meeting in a particular city. You send an RFP to multiple hotels and suppliers or submit a very thorough RFP to the CVB in the city and let them send it to the appropriate companies. Within minutes (yeah right!) the proposals start pouring in via email, fax, carrier pigeon and snail mail which contain sale packets with high-gloss photos and enough paper that it probably denuded half of a hardwood forest to produce and that you promptly add to File 13 (a.k.a. the trash can) after reviewing the top three pages which usually contains the only information in which you’re interested…..the room rate, F&B minimum, any concessions, their fees and charges and what it will ultimately cost you to utilize them for your meeting.
What follows this step is one of the most important lessons that I learned very early in my career as a Meeting Professional. After compiling all of the information you’ve received, do you:
a) Follow up with the hotels and vendors that sent a proposal with a predetermined list of questions such as:
– When was their last renovation?
– Can they provide past clients you may contact to ask about their experience?
b) Start “sharing” your findings with the other hotels or vendors in the city to see who beat the others by playing one against the other?
Somewhere we have forgotten or chose not to admit to ourselves and others that the practice of “sharing” the information contained in a proposal is not only unethical but is bad business!
An RFP should not have to state that it involves a “closed bid” process. It should be assumed that every proposal that is received is the best offer that can be made by that particular hotel or vendor and should not be open to discussion except between the two parties involved in the process. I’m not saying that a contract should not be negotiated but that the information contained in any proposal that is received should be considered proprietary and definitely not shared with any other property or vendor that is bidding on the same business. This is the very definition of the “closed bid” process.
If a vendor truly wants your business, they will give you the best possible deal at the very beginning. As a meeting planner I have been asked many times by hoteliers to share what rates I’ve received and from whom and my answer has always been, “That information is confidential and you should be confident that what you’re proposing is in the best interest of both of us.” That statement not only elevates the conversation to a different level but also earns the respect and trust of the person with whom I’m speaking. They know that they can be totally honest and transparent with me and that the information will go no further. I must also say that when asked to “share” what other proposals have offered it has created an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion of the person asking me to do so.
“Negotiating” is good….”Sharing” not so much!
“The DMC Guy”