THE HIGHLIGHTS: If you only remember 6 things after reading this… ?
1. Know your “WHY?” – your purpose, the unique “contribution and impact you want to make in the industry and to the world.”
2. Be Selective – Find the right kind of trade “buyers” for your business (tour operators, travel agents, travel designers, and online platforms) to market to.
3. Listen, Learn & Act – Just “winning” a client is only the beginning of the journey – it’s about ongoing relationships and continual improvement.
4. Make it easy to sell you – Your marketing and sales activities are a perfect opportunity to listen to your market and find out what problems they need you to fix and how you can both innovate and be continually improving
5. Build the relationship – Make it Win-Win
6. Data is Queen – To really improve your sales and marketing you need to ensure that you are collecting, analyzing and utilizing your sales and marketing in the best possible way – both quantitative and qualitative.
Also to remind you before we start of the Becky Harris world of terminology… for the B2B travel industry world, I use Marketing to mean finding new clients and Sales to mean developing more sales and profits from existing client contacts.
I can’t stress enough that “winning” a client is only the beginning of the journey. It is the exciting start of a long-term, two-way relationship that requires loving attention on an ongoing basis and a dedication to finding win-win solutions.
The more a client trusts you, likes and understands your products, values how well you look after their customers when they are in your care, likes working with you and knows that whatever problems occur – you are going to work with them to get the best outcome for the customers, the more they are going to do their best to try and sell you.
At SquirrelFish and Travel Kinship call our work with clients in this area “Client Development Plans.” The aim is to continually improve the sales and conversion rates of both sides and create a relationship of continual improvement and closer collaboration on efficient, effective processes, product development and customer satisfaction.
It is more important than ever in the B2B travel industry to “shorten the supply chain” and “increase value added” to combat against the rising tide of direct internet-based sales. To do this effectively takes building close, collaborative working relationships and developing win-win solutions.
Make it Win-Win
Some of the ways Travel Kinship works on Client Development Plans with clients to help them create value and develop deep, long-lasting relationships with their trade clients include:
Setting up robust measurement and reporting systems to see key performance metrics
Study past performance to select key clients to work with
Develop improvement strategies for each key client to work on ways to improve conversion rates through better service, product design, pricing, sales techniques, product knowledge or whatever we uncover the root cause issues to be.
Regular sales and product team training which is tailored to the specific Tour Operator / Travel Agent client company
Regular news updates and suggested social media posts /campaigns, blog and magazine articles to provide them with ideas for their own PR
Combating the idea of “overrides” with investment in joint sales, PR and marketing ventures where the money is only used to develop and grow sales to the supplier in question.
Regular face to face meetings at travel shows, office visits on roadshows, and even online video conferencing – focusing on moving the business forward and not just having a catch-up chat.
Ensuring a feedback system is in place and a regular review carried out linked to a continual improvement process
Sales & Product team training of the DMC or Lodge/Hotel Staff
Pick up the phone – encouraging/training all in-country staff to pick up the phone and actually call the buyer staff to discuss a sale or issue rather than just email back and forth
Offer FAM trips as cheaply as you can – always designed with the client in mind and continually improve based on their feedback – offer FAM trips to a Tour Operators top Travel Agents with a proven track record.
Offer Press trips through trade – verified
Special offer annual plan
Do let us know what you think of these ideas and if you have any comments or ideas to add.
Read the next and final article in the series – 6. Data is Queen
Contact us to find out how Squirrelfish, Travel Kinship and our sister company Round can help you grow your sales and develop your marketing, profitability, product development, and business reputation.
This article can also be found on Becky Harris’s LinkedIn profile HERE.
Could you just give us a few more details and we will be in touch