How to Write and Submit a Hotel RFP: A Guide for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses
If you’re sending your team out on the road for a job or event, you might need to book blocks of hotel rooms for them to stay.
And this will generally require you to submit an RFP to the hotel ahead of time.
This post will explain what a hotel RFP is, why they matter, and why submitting one can help you get the best rates on the best spaces.
Table of Contents
1. What Is an RFP?
2. Getting Started
3. How to Write a Hotel RFP
4. Make Yourself Available for Responses
5. If This All Sounds Too Complicated or Time-Consuming…
What Is an RFP?
An RFP is a request for proposal. It’s a way to let the hotel know what you’re looking for in terms of:
- Blocks of rooms
- Length of stay
- Desired amenities
- Expected number of guests
- Meeting space requirements
They’re used by travel managers, sales managers, event planners, and other people responsible for booking corporate travel.
The Purpose of Submitting an RFP
Why would your company send out hotel RFPs when they could just book rooms or event spaces through a website or travel management company?
This is an excellent question and speaks directly to the advantages of the hotel RFP process.
A request for proposal is basically an open request for bids to help your company find the best prices on event venues, meeting rooms, and blocks of hotel rooms.
Companies that submit hotel RFPs to book blocks of guest rooms tend to get much better deals. Hotels assume that if you’re sending them an RFP, you’re likely submitting proposals to other hotel groups, so they want to offer you the most competitive price.
Getting Started: How to Begin an RFP
Need to book your sales team a block of rooms for that upcoming conference? Are you responsible for sourcing room blocks for your construction team as they travel to a different state or location?
Here’s what you need to know to submit hotel RFPs like a true professional.
1. Get Some Hotel RFP Software
There are multiple types of RFP tools and software solutions available online, and you may want to use one for RFP management. And many of them work really well.
But there’s actually an easier and much more powerful method for handling hotel RFPs that you should definitely know about.
If you use Hotel Engine, you can get this entire process handled for you!
And here’s the best part:
It’s easy, free, and can save you tons of money on group hotel bookings. Click the link to learn more!
2. Using Hotel Engine to Handle Your RFPs
Hotel Engine gives travel managers the power to offload the entire hotel RFP management process onto our team of expert travel bookers.
We maintain business relationships with over 700,000 hotel partners, including leading brands like IHG, Wyndham, Red Roof, Extended Stay America, and more.
After signing up and creating an account (which is free), all you need to do is contact Hotel Engine’s Project Services Team.
Our Team will handle the entire process for you, from start to finish.
This is by far the easiest way to book blocks of rooms for your team, event, or corporate travel needs.
Plus, our members save up to 60% on business lodging rates wherever they stay. You can also earn points to gain access to HE Rewards.
In short, if you’re looking for a stress-free management solution to assist you in booking groups of rooms at affordable prices, Hotel Engine is a win/win/win!
Sign up and start reaping the benefits of our business lodging solution today!
3. Compile a List of Requirements
If you’re still committed to turning in RFPs on your own, then you’ll need to compile a list of requirements to begin the process of putting together your RFP.
These requirements should include:
- Desired number of rooms
- The dates that you’ll require the rooms
- Specific amenities that you desire
- Requirements for any meeting spaces (if needed)
- Specifics for the types of rooms/beds desired
- Any additional concessions you may desire, such as room upgrades, premium amenities, etc.
4. Research Hotel Options
Next, you’ll need to compile a list of hotels to send your RFP to.
For this, you’ll want to do a geographic search of the area, jot down the names of hotels that could potentially fill your company’s travel needs for this specific trip, and find their contact information.
This step is one reason why the hotel RFP process can get a bit overwhelming. But it’s all worth it because taking this route (as opposed to just booking rooms online) will connect you with hotel sales teams who’ll offer you great deals and help save your company some money.
Then, it’s time to start writing and submitting your proposals.
How to Write a Hotel RFP
Here’s a quick guide to help you write the perfect RFP to get you the best bids on blocks of rooms and event spaces.
What to Include in Your RFP
Here’s the information you should include in your request:
A Brief Intro to Yourself and Your Company
You’ll want to supply your name, company name, and any other information that may help the reader understand who you are.
You don’t have to go crazy on this part. A short paragraph should suffice.
A Complete Event Profile
Providing an event profile will help the hoteliers who bid on your request to understand the functional needs of your stay.
For this, you’ll want to use the list of requirements you put together above, plus a few other bits of information:
1. Planned Attendance
This is among the more crucial pieces of information to include in your RFP, as it translates to the number of rooms you’ll need to rent.
Including the number of attendees can also help you when reserving meeting spaces.
2. Dates of Stay
This is another crucial detail. The hotel’s management will need to know how many nights you’ll need the rooms for so that they can reply with a price bid.
3. Space Requirements
This is more important if you need a certain amount of space for an event.
But it can also apply to the hotel rooms themselves. Do you need spacious rooms? If so, this is good to mention.
4. A Mention of Amenities You’re Interested In
If there are any specific amenities that you’re interested in (free parking, WiFi, swimming pool, gym, etc.), then it’s important to mention them.
You could list desired amenities as requirements, or you could inquire about them in the spirit of asking for additional information.
5. Budget Guidelines
Supplying basic budget guidelines can help the hotel to understand if you have any financial constraints. Keep in mind that if you set your budget too low, some hotels may not be able to accommodate.
Failing to include this information, however, can lead to a longer and more drawn-out negotiation process.
Related blog: How to Create an Employee Travel Budget for a Small Business
6. An Event Description
If you’re submitting an RFP for an event space, let them know what the event is and how you plan to use it.
7. A Deadline for a Proposal Response
If you’re working on a set deadline, then you should include this in your proposal.
Now, deciding how far in advance to submit RFPs is another question entirely. And to be honest, there’s no cut-and-dry answer. It really depends on the complexity of your request.
A request for a block of 10 rooms is one thing, but a request for a 100-room block and a conference room is quite another.
The more complex your request, the sooner you should turn into hotels. Give them plenty of time to deal with the request and reply with a bid before your deadline hits.
8. Your Contact Information
You’ll obviously want to give hotels all of the necessary contact information so that they can get back to you with a bid.
Where to Find Free RFP Templates
Looking for free RFP templates?
Conventionplanit.com actually hosts a lot of free resources for travel managers who need to submit RFPs.
The GBTA also provides a lot of resources, tools, and templates to help submit RFPs.
Where to Submit Your Hotel RFPs
Submitting your RFPs will take a bit of legwork. For best results, you’ll need to directly contact all of the hotels in your geographic zone and ask them where/how to submit your paperwork.
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 a lodging management service like Hotel Engine. Learn how our group booking service can save you time (and money!) today.
Make Yourself Available for Responses
Hotels will respond to your proposal in a number of different ways.
If they’re busy or need to consult with other departments, they may say, “Hey, we’re interested in turning in a bid, but we need some time to put it together. We’ll have it submitted to you by [insert date of bid deadline].
But eventually, if a hotel can reasonably meet your request and budget guidelines, they’ll follow up with their own proposal for you to look over.
1. Review Proposals Carefully
When looking over proposals, you’ll want to go over them with a fine eye for details. Make sure that the bid meets your company’s requirements, needs, and budget.
If not, it’s time to …
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.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to field bids from many different hotels. This competition between the hotels is part of what will get you the best price possible.
You want to check all of your options and look for the best offer.
3. Acceptance and Booking
Once you find the best deal possible, it’ll be time to finalize the booking with the hotel representative managing your proposal.
After this step, there’ll be the matter of making your payment and getting confirmation. But that’s about all there is to the process.
Congratulations! You just used a hotel RFP to book your company the perfect block of rooms at a highly discounted rate. Good job!
If This All Sounds Too Complicated or Time-Consuming…
Don’t forget that Hotel Engine handles this step for many businesses who regularly book large blocks of hotel rooms for business travel.
Plus, we can get you awesome rates through our hotel partnerships that you may not be able to get anywhere else.
Join for free and let us take this complicated issue off your plate!
There you have it:
A complete guide to hotel RFPs, how to create them, how to submit them, and how they can help you save money on bulk hotel rooms for business travel.
All that’s left now is to get out there and give it 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 Arrangements
Discover how to make group hotel booking ridiculously simple.
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. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.