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Third-Party Planners: New Venue Sourcing Tools Level Up Savings, Customer Trust

Brad Langley |

GettyImages-691949286It always surprises me that so many planners use outdated eRFP tools. Why pay for technology when you can get it for free, they ask. The problem is this type of thinking carries hidden costs. And those costs pile up. Fast.

– Think about the time you spend, aggregating hotel bids. Reformatting them. Getting meeting owner changes. And then starting the process all over again.

– Then there’s the aggravation of chasing after hotels for missing bid information. And searching through email threads for the latest updates.

– Not to mention the frustration of quantifying concession values. Then having to justify your numbers when customers question them. So you redo and redo.

Do you bill for all the hours you sink into this work? Probably not. Ask yourself: What do these tasks add to the value you bring to the table?

The truth is … they don’t.

Is your eRFP tool only a 10 percenter?

The problem with traditional eRFP technology is it only does one job – send eRFPs. But searching for venues and sending eRFPs are only 10% of a planner’s job.

Traditional eRFP tools leave you to do the rest of the work yourself. They don’t help you leverage brand spend. They don’t improve customer collaboration. And when you want to prove your value in hard dollars, your eRFP tool doesn’t do a thing.

Fact: “Free” becomes expensive when you factor in labor, opportunity costs and lost savings. Worst of all is the loss of client confidence in your ability to find the right venues and get the job done.

With occupancy at record highs and profit margins shrinking, now is the time to streamline manual (unbillable) work. And provide value-adding services in high demand.

Growing your business in today’s market means moving away from the status quo. Let modern technology do the heavy lifting on repetitive tasks. And give you resources to expand your business and stickiness to retain your customers.

How do you do this? Here are some examples, using Aventri’s sourcing solution for third-party planners.

Crank up efficiency

  • Simple eRFPs – Create an eRFP with meeting agenda in minutes. Clone previous eRFPs easily, changing dates, space needs and room block requirements as needed. Even add venues to active RFPs.
  • Fast responses – No more waiting days, even weeks, for hotel proposals. Support teams are changing the game for the better. They contact venues to help you get complete bids fast, typically within 24 hours.
  • Easy Onboarding – Using new strategic sourcing solutions, you can onboard your team in less than the time you spend waiting for a pizza delivery.
  • Quick, robust data capture – These platforms slash sourcing time by 50%, while capturing 10x more data. Unlike old-school eRFP tools, they track meetings in real time throughout the entire planning process. They capture sourcing, negotiating and booking data automatically, giving productivity a boost.
  • Effective team management – With full visibility, you manage more meetings with the same size staff and no overtime. You see at a glance who’s busy and who’s not to manage the workload easily. Plus, planners view the progress of bids in real time. So they can pick up where a colleague leaves off to keep things moving swiftly forward.

Capture more savings

  • Full transparency – A centralized eRFP dashboard fuels customer success. You get a bird’s-eye view of all meetings sourced at every stage of the process. Improve your team’s buying power with instant visibility into spend and savings. Planners gain the information they need to optimize brand leverage and negotiate the best rates.
  • Powerful negotiations – Game-changing negotiation tracking tools capture the entire bid history automatically. Simple graphs show savings trending up and costs going down. They provide a clear picture of how negotiations are progressing in real time.
  • A fight for your business – Rebid functionality improves negotiations, encouraging hotels to compete for your business. In a supplier-driven market, negotiations move fast. Don’t leave savings on the table because of clunky technology.

Get customer-ready fast

  • Proven value – In an industry first, venues – not planners – report concession values in dollar amounts. So you can demonstrate the value you add to every meeting based on hard data.
  • Interactive bid summary – The technology also formats hotel responses automatically and compiles them into an interactive bid summary. Simple side-by-side comparisons make it easy to spot the best offers. Create rankings. Then send customers a link to your presentation-ready summary. You’ll guide sound decision-making to power customer success.
  • Customer collaboration – Or, take transparency up a notch and share your entire planning process in real time. Robust sharing tools make it easy to see all the value you add. Show as many or as few details as you like. And leverage transparency to build credibility.
  • Easy reporting – Customize reports by meeting or customer to showcase all the value you bring to the table. Deliver key insights to customers with reports you create in a couple clicks.

The lesson here is this: Your customers don’t hire you to do spreadsheet work. Or chase down hotels. Or research concession values. They hire you for your expertise to transform their vision into amazing events.

Be selective about offering value-added services. With the right technology, you’ll grow your business. You’ll build customer collaboration. And you’ll elevate your role as a trusted advisor.

For more on growing your business in today’s market, download our special report Beyond Site Selection: A Modern Guide to Growing Your Third-Party Planning Business. You’ll learn:

  • How to protect your business against market shifts
  • The easiest, most profitable way to grow market share
  • 4 strategies to avoid hidden costs
  • Why leading mobile apps are cost-effective now for smaller events (50 – 75 attendees)
  • 3 tips for competing effectively in areas you’re not winning today 
Beyond Site Selection ebook_CTA 1

This Post was Written by Brad Langley

Clients and colleagues describe Brad as a visionary leader with endless energy and enthusiasm. He brings all that to Aventri, plus a 30-year track record of exceeding business goals at world-leading incentive and travel companies. Earlier in his...

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