by Lisa A. Grimaldi | November 22, 2016

A new Incentive Research Foundation study of planner/hotelier relationships reveals there are significant opportunities for improvement throughout the discovery, RFP and execution phases of the relationship. Among other findings of the July 2016 poll of 126 hotel sales representatives and 160 meeting and incentive travel planners in the United States: 

• More than half of the hoteliers (69 precent) and planners (54 percent) polled viewed their relationship with the other side as either collaborative or supportive. 

• Just 16 percent of planners viewed their relationship with national sales offices as one of full trust or friendship; of the different hotel contacts they work with, planners said their relationship with convention service managers was the strongest. 
• For both planners and hoteliers, two issues stood out as the biggest obstacles to creating exceptional programs: budgets rising slower than costs, and space/date availability. 
• The eRFP process was cited as a common source of frustration for both hoteliers and planners.  
• Survey participants also shared concerns about the increasingly transactional and technological nature of the relationship, an issue that needs to be actively addressed in order to create and maintain valued partnerships on an ongoing basis.  

IRF president Melissa Van Dyke says the survey shows that "the hotelier-planner relationship is already highly collaborative, but advancing these relationships to ones of full trust will help increase the outcomes for the partnership and carry both parties through the multiple risk issues facing programs today."

The full study is available here.