What Will Happen With RFP Season?

By Kaaren Hamilton, CMP, Vice President of Global Sales, RLH Corporation, and chair of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board

At the end of April, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) put out a statement after meetings and discussions with members that endorsed the postponement of the 2020 hotel RFP season until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the travel industry and encouraged hotels to roll all 2020 rates for 2021. HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board (SAB) members discussed the statement and debated their views on a call on May 14. Here are some of their thoughts, presented in their own words:


  • “I was hugely in favor of it from a staffing standpoint, from an organizational standpoint, and from a protection-of-the-industry standpoint.”
  • “We will not be able to do an RFP season right now. September, October, or November could be a different story, but realistically, we’ve tried to do some things internally to turn it around and there’s just no way it’s going to happen. We will come out with a lot more information on this, there’ll be customer communication, and you’ll have everything you need to need to know on cleanliness and brand standards, but in terms of doing an RFP and filling out a thousand questions, that’s not going to happen.”


  • “My fear is that there have already been a couple of large travel buyers that have come out against it. When push comes to shove, we have to go through procurement, and procurement is suggesting that we need to possibly go out to bid. And so, there’s now this kind of backpedaling of commitment. Then there’s a couple of others that have come out and said, no, we’re good with it. We’re not going to go out to bid. I’m becoming less confident in the execution.”
  • “Shortly we’ll have to make a recommendation internally with my company. I’ve had a lot of internal discussion trying to socialize this already. And you know, I’ve had a lot of questions around what this would look like. I was initially very encouraged. But naturally for a lot of the intermediaries, this is not going to be in their favor.”


  • “We have to do all these brand standards and all of these new cleanliness standards and all the things we need to protect our associates just as much as our travelers, and obviously they’re critical. But I don’t think that the communication or the implementation of those standards are going to be the make it or break it as to whether or not people get on the road. They’re going to get on the road when they have the financial means to get on the road or when their company tells them that there’s no longer a legal liability.”
  • “One thing that we’re hearing overwhelmingly is, the most critical factor for them is when is it announced by the economy that it’s open for business, that they can travel and they can do business. And then there’s the hassle factor — how much of a challenge is it going to be for travelers?”
  • “Every meeting planner forum I’ve been attending, they’re all talking about virtual meetings this year. I haven’t heard any that have said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to plan that meeting even in the fourth quarter.’ Because they’ve got to finalize their plans now for the second half of the year.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Categories: Sales, Corporate Market Trends, Negotiation
Insight Type: Articles