How to Write and Submit a Hotel RFP

Audrey Fairbrother
July 10, 2023
How to Write and Submit a Hotel RFP

Before you can send your team out traveling, you need to book blocks of hotel rooms for them. And booking group stays can be complicated — you'll most likely need to submit an RFP to several hotels first.

If it's your first time booking a hotel for a group or drafting a hotel RFP — or if you just don't know what "RFP" means — we're here to help.

Let's learn about hotel RFPs, why they're important, and how to get great rates for all your group hotel stays without extra hassle.

We'll cover:
1. What an RFP is
2. Why you'd submit an RFP
3. The 6 steps involved in every RFP
4. How to avoid the hassle of RFPs altogether

What is an RFP?

RFP stands for "Request For Proposal." A hotel RFP, then, is a way to let hotels know what you're looking for as you plan an upcoming stay. That might mean:

  • Number of rooms
  • Length of stay
  • Expected number of guests
  • Desired amenities
  • Meeting space requirements, etc.

Travel managers, event planners and other people who book corporate travel use RFPs to start the negotiating process.

Why submit an RFP?

If you're new to this process, you might be wondering: Why would you submit an RFP to a hotel when you could just as easily book rooms for your company through a travel management company or online travel agency?

It's an excellent question — especially if you haven't considered the pros and cons of TMCs and OTAs. Ultimately, RFPs are specifically for group hotel bookings, which are often too hard or too expensive to book with OTAs or TMCs.

Think of each RFP as an open request for bids from different hotels, intended to help you get the best price on event venues, meeting rooms and room blocks.

Remember: Hotels know that if you’re sending them an RFP, you're probably sending it to other hotels, too — so they're incentivized to offer a competitive rate.

How do I create an RFP? (6 Steps)

There are plenty of RFP tools and software solutions intended to help, but there's actually a much better way to handle hotel RFPs.

It's very simple. The trick is: don't bother with them.

Instead, book group trips with Hotel Engine. Hotel Engine is not an OTA or a TMC, and our best-in-class platform and expert Groups team make group hotel bookings effortless.

And here’s the best part: it's free.

If you're determined to handle RFPs on your own instead, here’s a rundown of the 6 steps involved.

Step #1: Gather the Required Info

First you'll need to compile all your travel requirements, like:

  • Desired number of rooms
  • The dates that you'll require the rooms
  • Specific amenities that you need or prefer
  • Requirements for any meeting spaces (if needed)
  • Specifics for the types of rooms/beds your travelers prefer
  • Any additional concessions you may desire, such as room upgrades, premium amenities, etc.

Step #2: Research Hotel Options

Next, you'll need to compile a list of hotels to send your RFP to. This step is time-consuming, and a major reason why RFPs can be overwhelming. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to truly consider your options.

Start with a geographic search of the area for hotels that could potentially meet your company's travel needs for this specific trip. Take note of whether each hotel has the amenities and event space you require.

Once you've created a list, it’s time to start writing and submitting proposals. We recommend starting with around 5 options. Too few and you may find yourself beginning your search all over again down the line.

Step #3: Write Up Your RFP

Here’s the information you should include in your request:

  • A Brief Intro to Yourself and Your Company
    For example: your name, company name, your contact information, and any other industry or mission information that may help the hotel understand who you are.
    • A Complete Event Profile and Description
      Use the list of requirements you put together above, plus crucial information like planned attendance, dates of stay, date of the event(s), space requirements, amenities you're interested in (or need), and budget guidelines, which may help you avoid more back-and-forth with the hotel than necessary.

Related: How to Create an Employee Travel Budget for a Small Business

  • A Deadline for Proposal Response
    Make sure you set a deadline for the hotels so that you get responses back promptly. Also, try to submit your RFP early, since complex hotel bookings take time to coordinate.The more complex your request, the sooner you should turn your RFP in to hotels. Give them plenty of time to deal with the request and reply with a bid before your deadline hits, and you'll ensure you have multiple bids to compare.

Step #4: Submit Your Hotel RFPs

Submitting your RFPs also takes a bit of legwork. For best results, contact all of your chosen hotels directly to ask them where and how to submit your paperwork. Otherwise, you may not get a response.

Nowadays, most RFPs are submitted to hotel sales agents via email, but some hotels may have a different policy.

Reminder: You can bypass all of this work by partnering with Hotel Engine. Learn how our group booking service can save you time (and money!) today.

Step #5: Review and Negotiate

If a hotel can reasonably meet your request and budget guidelines, they'll follow up with their own proposal for you to look over.

It's important to review their proposals carefully. Make sure that the bid meets your company's requirements, travelers' needs, and trip/event budget.

If not, it's time to negotiate.

Negotiation is common with hotel RFPs. While negotiating, you'll go back and forth with the booking agent as you try to work out a compromise.

Make sure you field bids from many different hotels. Having alternative offers will provide you with bargaining power and enable you to get the best possible price.

With that in mind, set aside a good amount of time for this step of the process. There will likely be a lot of back-and-forth.

Step #6: Book & Modify

Once you've selected a hotel and negotiated a suitable rate, it's time to finalize the booking with the hotel representative managing your proposal.

They'll send a contract, which you should review carefully. (We have a whole section on understanding important contract clauses in our e-book "How to Make Group Hotel Booking Ridiculously Simple.")

Once you've reviewed your contract and approved it (or requested changes from the hotel), you'll submit payment and get confirmation. Congratulations: your lodging is booked!

Now you can turn your attention to managing the trip through check-in, check-out and reconciliation.

For modifications, you'll need to contact the hotel directly. The front desk will handle any changes you need to make to your booking, such as guest list or itinerary changes.

Of course, you also have access to a faster, easier way to get great group lodging at a great negotiated rate, with white-glove service on modifications that eliminates those hotel phone calls.  Enjoy easier-than-ever reconciliation with the ability to consolidate room charges and choose from flexible payment options thanks to Direct Bill, along with on-demand access to individual hotel folios and customized reporting.

And because our platform is free to use, with no subscriptions or commitments or minimum spending required, you've got nothing to lose in giving it a try.

How to Avoid the Hassle of RFPs with Hotel Engine

Guess what? A lot of rooms doesn't have to mean a lot of hassle.

Avoid the entire RFP management process (searching for properties, negotiating rates, coordinating itinerary changes, etc.) by booking your group trips with Hotel Engine.

We maintain business relationships with over 700,000 hotel partners, including leading brands like IHG, Wyndham, Red Roof, Extended Stay America, and more — so we can connect you with great properties no matter where your group is headed.

After signing up and creating an account (which is free), Create your free account and start a trip straight from the platform; we’ll take care of the rest.

We’ll help you:

  • Choose a property easily — with hotel recommendations based on your group’s unique needs
  • Get a great rate — negotiated on your behalf
  • Hand off modifications — coordinated with the hotel for you
  • Save time and simplify — Access every trip and every folio on-demand, and pay one streamlined, consolidated invoice
  • Count on support every step of the way — from your dedicated Group Sales Manager and our 24/7 Member Support team

Our members save up to 60% on business lodging, and even more valuable time.

So if you're looking for a stress-free way to book groups of rooms at affordable prices without the hassle of RFPs, Hotel Engine is for you.

Sign up today to start reaping the benefits of our streamlined booking solutions!

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There you have it: everything you need to know about hotel RFPs — as well as how to avoid ever needing to do one.

All that's left now is to sign up for free and give Hotel Engine a try.

Here are some other articles you might find helpful:

Business Travel Hacks for Your Next Work Trip | Team-Building Retreat Activities | Beginner’s Guide to Planning Business Travel Arrangement

Article written by
Audrey Fairbrother

Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine's audience and cultivating the company's brand voice.

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