Meeting With A Hotel Chain – Event Temple and Delphi fdc

Aug 21st, 2019 in

delphi fdc, opera pms and event temple

Up Against Delphi fdc  – A true story of a demo I did to replace that system and how nervous I was. I didn’t know how we measured up, but I found out and in this short post, I’ll tell you how we did.

Background

As the CEO at Event Temple, one of the perks of the job is getting the opportunity to go and visit potential customers in person, especially large management groups and chains. It’s always nice to meet face to face and discuss what the transition process will look like before entering into such a deep, long-term partnership together. Sales and Catering software is obviously one of the main systems of record within a hotel chain and so making a transition is a major decision. The following is a true story about one of my recent trips around the world to meet with a prospective customer and how Event Temple performed in comparison with Delphi FDCc, the competing product from Amadeus that we were up against.

Around The World

Event Temple is headquartered in Vancouver, BC, Canada and so in order to meet with the potential customer, I boarded my flight taking me halfway around the world. Upon landing, I checked into one of their hotels, two days prior to our meeting, and began working on my presentation materials. I ensured that the demo was setup properly for their use case and had a live example of specifically how our program would work for their hotel chain’s needs. I have to admit though, despite literally a couple of days of preparation, what happened at our in-person meeting was completely unexpected.

The Pressure’s On

On the morning of the meeting, I woke up and had my coffee and breakfast, went over the presentation materials one final time to ensure all of their questions would be addressed and walked to the hotel chain’s head office. Upon entering, I was immediately surprised with the sheer size of the operation. What looked like over 100 cubicles of employees were sitting below the semi-raised walkway as if I was on a raised stage, walking toward reception. The company’s logo was brightly emblazoned on the wall and many of the staff raised their eyes to take note of me as I walked down the corridor. It seemed as though they didn’t get too many visitors, or maybe I was just in my head a little bit, because it was a much larger team and office than I anticipated. I was greeted by a friendly woman at the reception desk, checked in and then finally led to a large meeting room with a projector at one end and a large board room table with about 14 chairs around it. I started setting up for my presentation as the executive team started to arrive for the meeting.

First the Operations Team arrived.

Next, the Vice President of Revenue Management.

Then, The Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Followed by IT, Security, VP of Operations, Procurement and Finance. Even the COO was in attendance.

“Ok…” I thought, I was expecting to present to a team but this is a lot of people.

“Let’s See How You Measure Up”, He Said

But that’s when the unexpected happened. “Nice to meet you. Show us how you measure up against Delphi FDC”, one of the VP’s said and put me on the spot to do a live feature for feature comparison. They wanted to know how we handled every single pain in their Sales and Catering process related to a robust feature set at not just the hotel level, but for Sales and Catering requirements across the chain and against one of the most well-known competitors on the planet, Delphi FDC.

Event Temple and Goliath

“I’d be happy to. Why don’t we talk a little bit about how you utilize your existing software today and then I can show you how it would be accomplished using Event Temple”, I said. And there we were, for about half a day, going over every use case and feature, one by one and comparing and contrasting. I would have felt less pressured had I known how the meeting was to be executed. I was expecting to present, not compare.

I felt like David up against Goliath. Sure, I am confident in our product and of course I am proud of it and know it works well, but I had never been in such a close battle with such a well known competitor in my life. All of my fears were present. “Are we good enough?” I wondered. “Will there be any major gaps or obvious deal killers?”. I hadn’t flown all this way to lose the deal, but at the same time I know that we serve enterprise hotel customers with very specific requirements and if you can’t do it, well, they will find the right solution. They have to. Millions of dollars of revenue are on the line.

So there I was, standing at the front of the room, giving an impromptu comparison presentation against the market-entrenched, 30+ year old Delphi FDC from Newmarket International (now Amadeus). I wish I could tell you I knew a lot about their product but I didn’t. We built Event Temple by meeting with our users who were working at hotels and asking them how to make their lives easier. We weren’t users of Opera PMS or Delphi FDC or Hotel Sales Pro in the past and these programs were all unknowns to us. That made me feel nervous. But I did, however, deeply understand the customer’s workflow at the chain, management, and hotel level and even from the perspective of the hotel’s guests. So, I simply answered the questions one by one as they came up and showed them a feature and then said “This is the Event Temple way. It may not be the way you do it today, but here is how we handle that in our solution”.

So What Happened? How Did We Do?

I wouldn’t go as far to say that I was sweating, but I was close. I haven’t been in such a high pressure meeting before where I am asked to make such direct comparisons. Normally, I am asked to highlight what our software does, why people buy it and then I answer some questions regarding very specific challenges or use cases. “How do you measure up?” is hardly a question I answer regularly, never mind live, and never mind for 4 hours to literally every stakeholder in the sales process.

At the end of the presentation, this mysterious Delphi FDC finally ceased being the topic of discussion and it seemed that the group had exhausted all of their questions. We took a short break and the group asked me to come back in about an half an hour while they discussed the pros and cons of each system.

I walked back into the boardroom. “So, how do we measure up? We are a 4 year old company and have been laser focussed on building the world’s best modern Sales and Catering Software. We never look to competitors for our roadmap but instead to our customer. What are your thoughts on Event Temple versus your current system?” I said.

“First, we want to thank you for a very thorough presentation”, said the Head of IT. “Upon examining your features and comparing and contrasting both systems, we feel Event Temple offers a more robust set of features in a simpler and more intuitive interface. We feel you have a system that is both powerful and modern and we were really impressed”. I had already prepared an answer in my head before he could finish: “I understand, the systems are very different, but I appreciate your honesty and being willing to take a look at us….”, but then realized what they actually said was in complete mis-alignment with my fears. “Did you say you feel Event Temple is more robust?” I asked. I certainly knew we had built a world-class product, but I had heard this word, this Delphi many times as a brand name and I just assumed it would take a decade for anyone to say such a thing. “Yes, we feel it is more robust and easier to use after careful examination”, she said. “Do you have pricing information with you?”, she asked.

The Shift

I opened a slide show that illustrated the various pricing Event Temple offers and demonstrated how our pricing scales up and down depending on whether the hotel has meeting space or not and some other factors. I also showed them a quote per hotel and per the entire group of properties. It was at this moment, the tension in the room completely evaporated and there was a notable shift in the energy of the room. “We felt your product was more robust and easier to use”, the VP of Sales and Marketing said. “But now, looking at your pricing, I have to say that we will be discussing but Event Temple looks to be much more affordable than their solution, both on implementation and on annual fees. But how much are your proposal feature, e-signatures and online payment feature add-ons?”. “Those are included in the price I quoted”. “Included?”, she said, surprised. “Yes they are, it’s all included on day one for the price I quoted.”, I said. The room’s energy now totally changed. “We will be in touch but we want to thank you for coming in today and we were very impressed with your product and presentation. It was great to have the CEO come and meet us in person as well. Thank you”. I thanked them back and went back to my room. I was surprised we did so well since I didn’t know much about Delphi or any of our competitors really, but I was really pleased that they felt so strongly about it. I always have felt that focussing on the customer really does pay off and this seemed to be strong validation.

The Result?

The group ended up booking with us, for the entire group of properties across all of the countries and their full portfolio. From there, we handled the process like we do with all of our groups. We sign an agreement, then go through the payment terms and schedule and then start the implementation process. Within 7 days we can normally import all of the hotel’s existing database from their old system and then we can do remote or on-site training. We also create any important integrations that the hotel requires, which is normally fairly straightforward for us since Event Temple is built to integrate. This was another little surprise that we weren’t expecting, but when we started speaking to major hotel groups using competing systems, we found out that those systems had limited connectivity. Since we are first from the tech industry, newer to hotels and built towards user feedback, we weren’t aware of that and now have over 2000+ integration options through Zapier, Webhooks and our API.

Which System Should You Choose?

That meeting made me think a lot about competition. Should you go to war with your competitors or learn everything about how they do what they do? Some would say yes, but my philosophy is a clear “hell no”. It’s hard enough to win a swimming race without turning your head to look at the swimmers beside you to see what they are up to. As well, sometimes when we analyze the competition too much, we let fear overtake desire and we end up copying flaws or bad habits. Instead, I’d sooner put my head down and get to work with my team. We believe in being happy and enjoying the journey and nothing fuels us like getting a thank you email from a happy customer. We also like innovating and trying to solve old problems in new ways. So no, I’ll let the competitors compete in a “red ocean” full of turmoil and thrashing, commoditizing the products and going feature for feature. At Event Temple, we’ll keep doing our own thing, treating others well and asking the customer to choose what the best solution for them is. If I am in a meeting and Delphi comes ahead of us, I’ll ask why and figure out my own way to solve that problem in the future. I want what’s best for the customer too. But hey, I have to admit it was nice to be pleasantly surprised and see that we didn’t only win on price, but also on functionality in this specific industry.

Are You A Competitor?

If you are a competitor to Event Temple, feel free to reach out and get to know us. While we probably won’t tell you everything we are working on, we’re happy to refer you if we are the wrong fit for a particular customer. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits all approach to business and there are tens of thousands of hotels and venues all over the world. I think we will all do just fine so long as our customers are taken care of and I think the best way to do that is to solve very specific problems for them, versus a one-size-fits all approach.

Are You A Hotel?

If you are a hotel, I can’t say we are better than the system you have today or not, unless you give me a chance to tell you a bit about what we do and how we do it. What I can tell you is that we have successfully provided software to hotels all over the world and replaced systems such as Opera PMS, Delphi FDC and Hotel Sales Pro.

To Learn More, Check Out our Venue Management Software online.


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