At HelmsBriscoe (HB), they use Cvent as their electronic platform for sourcing clients’ RFPs. They educate and encourage HB Associates to copy DMOs on RFPs since they are the local experts who can help with key recommendations to host a successful meeting in a particular location. HelmsBriscoe also works closely with Destinations International and, through their partnership with them, continues to educate Associates on the importance of including DMOs on RFPs.
HelmsBriscoe’s DMO partners show up for their 1,500 Associates at the top of the search by level and then alpha sort when searching for specific destinations. The hotel partners show up below that in alpha sort, followed by all non-partners. By highlighting destination partners first, Associates are more likely to include them on the RFP.
HB officially rolled out their four-level partner program in 2010. At the end of 2010, Associates included DMOs on 18% of RFPs, and that number is now nearly 80% today!
Tips for your destination’s listing:
- Ensure listing accuracy
- Accurate number/type of accommodations
- Meeting space figures
- Location details
- Partnership level recognition and enhanced search result placement
- Canceled space
- Elevate exposure for cancellations, attrition or distressed inventory
Many times, the Associates at HB see older or very little content in the profiles. HelmsBriscoe builds a custom profile for partners in a separate area of the Intranet site for Associates to access contact information for each destination as well as descriptions, videos and any other relevant information.
The HB partner database for hotel and DMO promotions is filterable by partner name, location, brand and start/end dates. HB also includes promotions within HB InSite and within Cvent, so they are easily accessible and more visible throughout the sourcing process.
HelmsBriscoe recommends CVBs definitely offer something for the end-user client as this is a tremendous value to the HB Associate to offer something back to their clients. And, if you add something for the Associate, it is a bonus and shows appreciation for their part in sending the business to your destination.
HB sees offers ranging from rebates and credits back to the master bill, extra planner points, comp room nights, reduced or no attrition and simplified contracting process or even pick lists that can be customized to the client’s needs. Extending site visit assistance is another great way to reward both the end-user client and the third-party planner.
Partner+Plus offers are exclusive, and HB also has an additional opportunity in a weekly e-newsletter sent directly to Associates highlighting these offers from partners. The monthly e-newsletter features articles on partner destinations. The articles typically feature new hotel inventory, renovations, destination awards or any other group and meeting focused topics that will bring the destination top of mind to HB Associates so they can, in turn, pass along to their clients.
In addition, HelmsBriscoe is always looking for social content for both the HB public pages and private pages. HB encourages DMOs and hotels within the destinations to submit photos from HB events, in-person presentations, site visits, client events, FAM trips, etc. to be promoted on their social channels.
Associate Engagement – Relationship Building
DMOs and hotels are getting creative with virtual options that are bringing clients together. And, including third-party clients on your invite lists provides even greater reach and exposure. Just within the HelmsBriscoe network of 1,500 Associates, on average, each third-party planner is working with 12-15 clients each, so they are touching many end-user clients.
Final thoughts to be proactive in managing your HB relationship:
- Check accuracy of your Cvent listing and your HB listing
- Provide timely responses to RFPs
- Provide reasons for turndown
- Offer alternative dates
- Respond and respond completely
- Provide additional property info
- Leverage relationships with HB Associates who have booked your property/destination
- Build relationships with the local team in your backyard
- Follow up with HB Associate after client meeting completion
- Encourage HB Associate to post knowledge in HB InSite
- Develop HB-exclusive offers
- Host events/functions/FAMs for local HB Associates and their clients
- Offer a friends/family rate to HB Associates (based on availability)
- Understand individual Associate work styles and account loads
- Attend HB Annual Business Conference
- Consider supporting HB team/regional meetings