For hoteliers, time is always in short supply. Peder Harryson of Nordic Choice Hotels found a solution. He shares how innovative tech saves his team hours on RFPs and improves the client experience.
A visit to the Nordic Choice offices at Comfort Hotel Solna
Peder Harrysson welcomes us to the Comfort Hotel Solna just outside of Stockholm on a cloudy morning. Nordic Choice Hotels’ regional offices moved here when the hotel opened in June 2021. The nearby Friends Arena and the Westfield Mall of Scandinavia are the primary business drivers.
Peder has been with the company for over eight years. Today, he’s one of four Central Sales Managers who are based in this office. Together, Peder and his team oversee MICE sales at over 110 hotels and work with the on-site staff to put together offers for large-scale events.
As we walk through the trendy new hotel, the generous open spaces and the classy yet relaxed ‘barception’ feel immediately welcoming. Fun fact: this hotel’s high density of solar panels produces more energy than it consumes.
It’s apparent that Nordic Choice is innovating on many fronts. This includes embracing sustainability measures, adapting to changing guest preferences and working with a modern tech stack. At the time of our meeting, Proposales was one of the most recent additions.
We sit down in a spacious meeting area. It’s time to hear from Peder how he and his colleagues use Proposales and how it has changed the way they send proposals.
The rep created and edited a proposal right in front of us and it looked effortless.
The first time you heard about Proposales, you weren’t too keen on listening to another sales pitch. Can you tell us what changed?
My manager had set up the appointment with the Proposales rep, and it’s true, I wasn’t hugely excited. I remember there were some technical difficulties with getting the presentation started and I was about to run out of patience.
But as soon as the demo started, I was riveted. The rep created and edited a proposal right in front of us and it looked effortless. In the last step he applied a discount and updated the price in only a few clicks. At that point I was sold because the whole system looked so quick, easy and intuitive.
Soon after, we began using Proposales for smaller quotes. For the larger, more complex RFPs we stuck with the old tool. But compared to our new system, that felt like a hassle now.
Then, on a slow day, we decided to do a test. We wanted to know: would it be easier and faster to create an elaborate event offer in Proposales? To answer this question, I used our old tool, one colleague used Proposales and the third colleague timed us with a stopwatch. The result was striking. I spent four minutes while my colleague only took 90 seconds. After that, Proposales became our go-to solution for all RFPs.
Before using Proposales, what were some of the challenges you had when communicating with your clients?
In the past, we sent proposals as PDF documents. If our clients wanted to make changes, they had to call or send an email about it. Then we’d update the Word Document, save a new PDF and resend it. As a result, there was a lot of back and forth. That cost both our team and our clients a lot of time.
With Proposales this has changed completely. The proposals are web-based, so everyone with the link can access them anytime. They’re clear and show exactly what’s included at what price. Our clients can also make changes themselves now. For example, if they want to update the attendee count or the number of rooms, they can do it directly in Proposales. This saves everyone a lot of time and makes the entire process much smoother.
The feedback from our clients has been great.
How do your clients feel about this new way of receiving proposals?
The feedback from our clients has been great. After sending out the first offer with Proposales I got a response like “Wow, this is new and cool. I like it!” Many other private and corporate customers reacted the same.
With government clients it was a bit more difficult at first. They often couldn’t open the external link in the email which led to the web-based proposal. In most cases this works now. But if it doesn’t, we simply download the Proposales offer as a PDF and send that. It only takes a few extra seconds, and the PDF looks great. It includes the logo, brand colors and photos. And of course, edits are also quick and easy for me to make.
But despite having great tools and business picking up, there are still some challenges?
Yes, unfortunately. It’s been great to experience the benefit of using innovative tools and see demand coming back. However, like many hospitality companies these days, we face a drastic staff shortage. That means we must be careful about how much business we accept to avoid overstretching our teams.
When I get large requests, I always look at the hotel’s availability first. If that looks good, I check with the on-site revenue manager if I can sell those rooms or conference packages. On several occasions they’ve asked me not to because the hotels are short on staff. We simply wouldn’t be able to offer the level of service our guests expect.
That can be frustrating because we finally see demand again, but we can’t take full advantage of it. I’m sure this will draw out recovery for us and many of our colleagues in the industry.
What do you do with all the time you save with Proposales?
Some companies create efficiencies to lay off staff. We chose to go a different way and reinvest the time we save in communication and follow-up with our clients.
For example, Proposales sends me a notification when the recipient first opens our offer. If I don’t hear back after a couple of days, I check in to ask if they have questions or want to make changes.
Proposales sends me another notification three days before the offer expires. At that point I follow up again to see what they might not have liked about our proposal. This feedback is valuable because it helps us improve.
Sometimes offers have been dormant for a long time due to the pandemic. When a potential client reopens a proposal after several months, the system pings me as well. That’s another chance to touch base. Even if they don’t buy, I’ve shown that we’re thinking of them and value their business.
As you can imagine, all this takes time. We couldn’t be so proactive with our follow-up without Proposales.
What if something doesn’t work – as it sometimes happens with technology?
It’s rare but sometimes there’s a hiccup or one of us is not sure how to enter something into the system. In those cases, the Proposales team has always been helpful. When we send a message or call customer support, we immediately get an answer. That has been a lifesaver because we need to respond to our clients quickly and can’t afford to lose time.
Last question – what do you think would make Proposales even better?
It’s already a fantastic tool but I have some ideas for future developments. I’d love to have ready templates for all our connected hotels and brands. That would speed offer creation up even further.
Here’s another idea. We often have events spread out over multiple properties. That’s why it would be great to have proposals that cover several hotels and to automatically reflect this in the sales system.
Lastly, an integration with the property management system would be amazing. That way we could automatically block rooms and conference spaces as soon as a client approves the offer. This would minimize the risk of accidentally double- or overbooking.
If Peder’s story has made you curious about how Proposales could help you save time and win more business, reach out to our team now!