Business Leads From Internet Channels
via Network Technology, Web Connectivity; Group
Leads Increase 10%, Definite Bookings
Up 5% Over Last Year
May 10, 2004 - When Dolce International, the global leader in the conference center niche, reshapes its 26-property operation to collect more leads from the growing Internet group-booking channel, it is proof of ‘evolving technology’ at work in the conference destination marketplace. Fielding a new automated electronic Request For Proposal (e-RFP) response capability, Dolce International is on track this year to achieve a 10% increase in e-RFP leads gathered from third-party meeting planning sites like PlanSoft and StarCite, while first quarter sales point to a solid year-over-year increase in definite bookings.
“The environment has changed. Altogether we expect 15 percent of our group meeting business in 2004 will be booked through our e-RFP process, reflecting our leadership in an emerging trend in our industry,” says Jeff Weggeman, Dolce International’s Vice President of Sales, North America. “Increasingly planners are moving their group booking process to the Internet and away from time-consuming and expensive traditional approaches involving phone calls, face-to-face meetings, travel, and onsite property inspections. We are providing a true B2B solution that meets their requirements for a fast, cost-effective online booking response instrument. In short, with our e-RFP response capability, we are selling the way our customers want to buy.”
Recent industry research supports Weggeman’s view: With 20 percent of meeting planners reporting they will increase their use of the Internet in 2004 (MPI FutureWatch 2004 survey), the trend to Web-based conference-booking services is forecasted to expand.
A year ago, before the Internet sales lead boom, Dolce International’s e-RFP process was already integrated directly with Newmarket International’s enterprise-wide sales and marketing management system, Delphi™, which automatically generates the information required for an effective response to an incoming e-RFP. The vendor’s web-based application, NetXchange™ MeetingBroker, then seamlessly connects planners with Dolce’s e-RFP site or with third-party e-market hubs. Buyers can also request e-RFP proposals by going directly to Dolce International’s Web site (www.dolce.com). What has changed in the past year is the volume and speed of lead traffic over the Internet, an increased pace that Dolce’s existing infrastructure is easily able to accommodate. Before, Dolce received sales leads through a straw; now – using the same sales and catering technology – Dolce is able to respond to sales leads received through a fire hose.
An important feature of Dolce International’s e-RFP process is its ability to generate and deliver proposals that do full justice to the Complete Meeting Packages available at the company’s different properties. “Being able to properly communicate what our CMPs include helps to differentiate us from the competition, so our meeting-planner customers don’t make buy decisions just on price,” says Robin Steiner, Dolce International’s Vice President Marketing, The Americas. “Each of our properties is unique in terms of location, type and physical structure. The constant is that they all offer Dolce's branded standards of service with meeting environments and service designed to provide the best meeting experience in the world. Part of creating great meeting experiences for our customers includes the ease of use and attention to detail of our e-RFP process. Our e-RFP responses convey the details of our state-of-the-art conference facilities as well as all of the leisure amenities – golf, spas, hiking, fine dining, and the like – that enhance a meeting experience for conference attendees at a Dolce property. As a result, event planners can clearly see how we deliver the greatest value within their budget.”
Dolce’s automated e-RFP response process generates
proposals that include all relevant specifications – including images,
feature descriptions, and layouts – for each property. Complete Meeting
Package proposals incorporate detailed information on group rooms, function
space, learning components, property amenities, and even ancillary costs
such as airfare and ground transportation. Clients are able to submit
e-RFPs to multiple Dolce properties simultaneously, and they are promised
real-time responses to their proposal requests within 30 minutes.
Enhanced Lead Sharing Among Properties Spurs Bookings and Revenues
In addition to streamlining its response to e-RFPs, Dolce International’s corporate Internet strategy enables it to quickly and flexibly share leads among properties. “The salespeople at our Global Sales Offices and individual properties are focused on increasing business across the organization for the brand, not just for their location, so it is vital for them to be able to communicate a piece of business from one property to another,” observes Sales VP Weggeman.
This important capability uses several integrated technologies from its sales and catering vendor. Currently, salespeople can access the Delphi Global Sales Edition – a sales force automation tool providing a centralized customer database – gather leads and submit them to Dolce’s e-RFP site, which pushes them to the properties via the NetXchange MeetingBroker link. Soon Dolce International will enhance this process by using the NetXchange I-Server framework for system integration to link the database directly to the properties without the need to access the e-RFP site.
“Our salespeople will very easily be able
to send a piece of business from any Delphi screen they’re working in –
whether an Accounts, Booking, or Meeting Profile screen – to Dolce
properties worldwide,” says Dolce’s Director of Global Technology, Nelson
F. Garrido. ”With one button click, they can automatically enter
all of the lead information into a form that is securely pushed to the
properties through I-Server. Since we pay a commission for every
shared lead, and a bonus for every lead that results in a booking, our
sales force is clearly motivated to drive property-to-property lead sharing,
making it a surefire strategy for booking more business and boosting revenue
across the brand.”
About Newmarket International
Jo Ann Swahn
Corporate Communications & Strategic Planning
|Also See:||Meeting Planners Expand Internet Use in 2004, Web-Channel Group Business Increases 428% in 2003 / April 2004|