A Deep Dive Into the Hotel Systems RFP

Tips from our Vice President of Hotel Distribution & Support, Deborah MacDonald

In the spirit of always learning, we pulled together some of the most common roadblocks we've seen among clients as they navigate their options in new or upgraded hotel tech. Here are tips on what to do, who should be involved, and how to be successful while going through the process of creating an RFP in preparation of vetting new hotel vendors.

Who should be involved in an RFP process?

Before determining who should be involved, the scope needs to be defined such as whether the RFP is for a standalone property vs. city center vs. resort -- if it is a multi-property solution requiring an umbrella approach for the setting of standards that would subsequently apply to all thereby increasing the participant list. However, the RFP Committee should be comprised of key stakeholders including IT, DORM, DOS, GM, Finance/Accounting, Food and Beverage (where a POS will be integrated) Convention Services (where Group Management system would be integrated), Spa/Activities (where a Spa management/activities management to be integrated). Finally, if pursuing a PMS-integrated solution, a Reservation Manager and Front Office Manager should also be included.

The risk with too many being involved is that departments (silos) tend to focus on their specific needs vs the overall solution thereby bogging down the process. Too few participants run the risk of exclusion resulting in the push back by the excluded departments resulting in resistance during the implementation process

What is the biggest misconception hotel tech buyers have going into the RFP process?

The main misconception is that a one-size-off-the-shelf solution would apply to the organization’s needs. The reality is that every property or organization has unique needs and priorities that any system selected will need to have the flexibility to address through seamless interfaces, if not, internal solutions

What is the most common mistake that you see hotel tech buyers make in RFPs?

The most common mistake is failing to do extensive reference reviews with similar properties that have successfully implemented the considered solutions and proposed integration.

What is your approach to identifying the scoring matrix and feature set? How do you decide which features are truly important to clients?

It would vary for each client. For us, independent hotels tend to be more cost-sensitive and have fewer staff. So an ability to help fill our RFPs in an efficient manner whilst keeping it customized.

By nature, organizations request copious amounts of information through their RFPssome of it is highly relevant (must-have information) and some less so. Certain priorities will required for the greatest chance for success and therefore be prioritized in the rating scheme. There will always be secondary and tertiary items (nice to have) included and in turn, those items need to be rated according to their importance.

Through collaborative discussions with the organizational leadership about the current situation and the long-term goals, the must-have and nice-to-have items are determined by the RFP Committee in alignment with the leadership vision.

What characteristics, traits, or approaches separate your clients?

Successful properties have absolute buy-in from organization leadership. A fully established SOP on sales processes. Namely, they'll have people who are fully trained to respond to RFPs and know exactly what they want to convey and the unique selling points for their property that relate to who is requesting the pricing.

In conclusion, make sure you have the right players involved and are aligned with the end goal or outcome of what the ideal vendor will provide. Also, do some research. Doing the due diligence on your end will pay off and give you the confidence you're making the right choice. Lastly, be open to discussing collaboratively. Once all the vendors have provided their proposals, the key players at the start of the RFP process will have to take the time to review and provide questions, feedback, and considerations—think of this as your "think tank" and keep your goals and desired outcomes in mind. Should you ever need a helping hand, Premiere Advisory Group is proud to help. We value the relationships we've made in the combined 100+ years of service in the hospitality industry across revenue, distribution, e-commerce marketing, and operations. We are always learning, keeping our eyes and ears out for trends, and also scouting out new technology players that can help give our clients the upper hand with the least amount of lift. Contact us to learn more about how we can help and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more tips like these.

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