Booking meeting space: proposals not worth proposing

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

- Mark Twain

I'm trying to book meeting space for a public workshop, Getting Started as a Supervisor, and I am having a heck of a time. I've contacted hotels from two completing companies in Los Angeles and Orange County and the results have been unimpressive. For an industry that is supposedly in need of business, their sales people sure have a funny way of showing it!

I'm referring two these to companies as "Hotel A" and "Hotel B" in my blog because this is an active process. By now, I've rounded up proposals from 9 of the 12 hotels I contacted. (That's right, I received no response from 3 hotels, all representing "Hotel A".) Unfortunately, only 3 of the 9 proposals I received addressed all the needs I outlined in my original request. Here's a graphical breakdown:

Some of the responses I did receive have just been plain dumb. Here are some examples:

****

 

Cheryl C from Hotel B sent an incomplete proposal. I emailed to ask her for the additional information, including pricing and menus for food. She responded with another email that only answered one of my questions.

Cyrena W. from Hotel A sent an incomplete proposal for the wrong kind of room. Since the proposal came one day later than expected, I decided not to consider Cyrena's property and emailed her to let her know. She responded with another email that still didn't answer any of my questions:

Good Morning Mr. Toister,

Thank you for your e-mail and interest in [Hotel A]. My apologies for responding in a matter not meeting your expectations and for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We very much appreciate your interest in [Hotel A] and would be pleased to welcome your business. If you would like to provide me with some specific details outlining the program you are interested in hosting this September, I would be more than happy to find the appropriate information for you and place a courtesy hold on any meeting space.

Once again, Mr. Toister, thank you for your interest in [Hotel A] and I would welcome the opportunity to exceed your expectations. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or requests.

Warm Regards,

Cyrena

Debbie H. from Hotel A emailed a proposal two days later than expected.The quote was very high, so I emailed her to let her know I had received several more competitive quotes and was not considering her hotel. Here was her response:

 

Hi Jeff,

 

If you would like to share with me the rates, I can see if we are able to meet the quote that you are getting elsewhere. Just let me know.

 

Debbie

 

****My response to Debbie:

 

Hi Debbie,

 

Does that mean your original quote was not your best offer? In that case, please forward your best quote to me.

 

Price is not the only consideration, though it is important. I’m also looking at the quality of the facility, the level of service I experience, and how well I think the venue will work for my event. For that reason, I will not share pricing between competitors, but I am happy to consider a lower quote. (Your original quote was significantly higher than others I have in hand.)

 

Thank you,

Jeff

 

Will it get better? Well, it's no surprise that the front runners in the process are the two hotels (1 from Hotel A and 1 from Hotel B) that have reasonably competent sales people. In both cases, the sales person called me within one business day to confirm my needs and then promptly emailed a proposal. They have also been very prompt and courteous in their follow-up communication. Next week, I'll visit these properties and hopefully decide upon one location in Orange County and one in Los Angeles.

Wish me luck... I'll need it.

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