A new report from the Incentive Research Foundation offers insights on how meeting planners can better work with hotel salespeople—and vice versa. The relationships are generally collaborative but are not always based on trust or friendship.
Choosing a hotel for an annual meeting takes a lot of time, energy, and collaboration between an association and the hotel’s staff.
Fortunately, the two sides generally see these relationships as positive, according to recent research conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation, which studies the rewards, meetings, and incentive-travel space.
In the foundation’s recent white paper, “Advancing the Hotelier/Planner Relationship: A View From Both Sides,” IRF reported that nearly 70 percent of the 126 hoteliers surveyed felt they had a collaborative or supportive relationship with planners, while between 54 and 67 percent of meeting or incentive-travel planners said the same thing, depending on the topic.
So, pretty good—but less than a quarter of respondents on either side described the relationship as one built on trust or friendship. That shows there’s a lot of ground to make up.
The report identifies possible areas for improvement—although what needs to be improved depends on whom you ask. Many of the responses from meeting planners, for example, suggest that hoteliers’ handling of electronic requests for proposals (eRFPs) is hurting the process by removing a personal interaction between the hotel and the planner.
Other responses flagged common pain points. One planner’s complaint, for example:
Please read my entire RFP before calling to ask me a bunch of questions. It comes across as rude or [shows] a lack of caring when a sales manager calls to ask something that is plain of day on the RFP. We put a lot of time into pulling as much info as possible into the RFP to help you get all the info you need from the start. Please don’t assume it’s missing something and not even read it.
Hoteliers, meanwhile, say they want to receive shorter, clearer RFPs.
Extra costs, such as internet charges, service charges, and resort fees, are a top concern for planners, while eRFP systems top the list of challenges for hoteliers. The biggest gap: The ability to show off creative food and beverage options is a high priority for hoteliers (their second most important issue), but it rates ninth on the planners’ list .
Other points of friction include challenges with costs that outpaced budgets and issues with space or time availability.
“The hotelier-planner relationship is already highly collaborative, but advancing these relationships to ones of full trust will help increase the outcomes for the partnership and carry both parties through the multiple risk issues facing programs today,” Van Dyke said in a news release.
The full report can be downloaded at the IRF website.