Author: Sarah M Roberts, Sales and Conference Planner, Meetings and Special Events, University of Calgary
Every event starts with an initial inquiry – if it’s from a repeat client or a new one – to see what space you have available, rates, available guest rooms and many other details. We are in the sales business when these inquiries come in – how can we best serve this client with the right meeting space and rates to fit their budget?
The next question is often – “can you hold this space for me?”
Or an RFP arrives in your inbox – you’ve got 24 or hours (or sometimes even less!) to respond with a meeting space and guest room combination that will make it work for this potential client. You respond efficiently and quickly, and maybe put some space on hold.
And then….you wait.
The question is: how long?
We deal often with clients who have a planning committee, or other decision maker that needs to see all the options before a decision can be made. In our high demand periods, this can mean a few clients or RFPs for the same set of dates. Although we are clear that event space are not being held, who doesn’t want a juicy piece of business to happen! We will often work with the client according to their timelines to make it work.
This poses a challenge however: placing holds and maintaining them are time consuming, and our search for a new software system continues, so we continue to use older technology that is not as intuitive as we would like.
For most clients, we will hold their meeting space for a week or two, and if another inquiry comes in we will ask them to advise us within a couple business days. For guest rooms, we do not hold without a contract, the volume of inquiries and bookings is too high for holds as we operate a hotel and seasonal residence in the summer.
So…do you hold? For how long? Do you take a deposit? Do you hold sleeping rooms?
Would love to know!