(N.B The original article is on my Travel Kinship website HERE.)
Since the early years of me starting my DMC in Central America, I have always held the belief that my main purpose in a B2B sales and marketing role was to help make it as exciting and easy for my clients to sell our destination and services as possible.
Our job is to create a “win-win” solution.
I have seen it many times that DMCs and accommodations often seem to fall into the trap of thinking that once they have had a successful first meeting with a client that this is the end of their role. Job done. “They clearly love us so they will now sell us.”
Sorry for being a cynic but remember A) the person may just be being polite or overexcited and not really want to, or be able to work with you at all and B) even if they do want to work with you, this is just the start of a long journey of support, innovation and partnership.
Here are is my personal take on the sales support or business development process that typically needs to happen in a B2B business relationship once you have initially made contact. We also employ this process in our work with clients at Travel Kinship business consultancy and representation for the travel industry.
STEP 1: HELP CLIENTS PROMOTE YOU: Get the right products onto their websites and into their marketing and sales systems.
STEP 2: HELP CLIENTS KNOW HOW TO SELL YOU: Help your clients product, sales and marketing teams be knowledgeable and passionate about you and experts in what you do so they can promote and sell you better.
STEP 3: BUILD RELATIONSHIP FOR MORE EFFECTIVE & EFFICIENT BUSINESS: Regular Follow Up, Innovation, Listening, and Continual Improvements.
STEP 4: KEEP UP THE PASSION – ENSURE A LONGEVITY OF OPTIMUM SALES: Turn your clients into your ambassadors – recommending your destination & services to their customers above other options.
In this article we will start with STEP 1 – and other articles and support will follow.
The B2B sales journey starts for me by making sure that any possible clients have every possible resource to help them understand, promote and sell my offering.
We need to provide clients with as much great digital content as possible to help them easily get your product onto their websites, into their newsletters, magazines etc and onto their social media.
Here is an idea of what a possible “Sales Support Toolkit” might include to help your clients promote and sell you better. I would love to hear if you have other ideas of useful materials that this “toolkit” can include.
My absolute number one tip for any DMC or Accommodation is to create a portfolio of example itineraries or packages that demonstrate the diversity of your offering and create a sense of what the experience of travelling or staying with you can be like.
Create a portfolio of example itineraries/packages that cover different areas and themes.
Areas could include:
Highlights, Off the Beaten Track in the North, Multi-Country, etc
Themes could include:
Family, Sustainable / Regenerative travel, Wellness / Spiritualism / Spa, Honeymoons / Romance, Wildlife / Safari, Gastronomy / Food & Wine, Active / Multi Sport / Hiking / Biking, Digital Detox, Archaeology, Textiles, Art / Architecture, etc
Styles could include:
FIT, Private Groups, SIB / Set Departure Groups, Multi-Generational Groups, Self-Drive, etc
Accommodations can upsell by providing themed packages, retreats and even partnering with other hotels and local DMCs to provide multi-destination itineraries.
Remember to include itineraries and packages of different lengths to ensure they are useful to different market niches. Perhaps long weekend trips for domestic and short-haul clients, 7-10 days for US clients who typically don’t travel for as long and 10-21 days for European and Australian clients who can often travel for extended periods of time.
Always think about what trends are currently occurring in the market and create itineraries and packages around these themes. Following the pandemic for instance clients are probably looking for longer itineraries that are more off the beaten track, in smaller properties and possibly including glamping or private islands and so on. Certainly sustainable and regenerative travel are excellent travel buzz words and offering trips that really do benefit local communities and the environment is always a win win.
I would do your best to initially create itineraries in English or the language of your main market and if that is not your first language, have someone check it or use software such as Grammarly to check spelling and grammar. You can also use platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork to find good copywriters for economic prices.
I would recommend adding approximate rates to your example itineraries as it can eliminate unnecessary communications and time-wasters if you add a “from” price for the cheapest time of the year. Adding some kind of approximate rate helps give buyers a general idea of costs to see whether it works for them or not. If you have different rates for different types of clients, you can always create different documents and “toolboxes” for each or offer a “Rack Rate” and email them their commissions separately.
If you would like some templates and advice to help with how to format example itineraries and what information to include do contact me.
In my experience, if you can provide your B2B clients with your own unique images and videos of high quality and high resolution they will truly love you for it.
Tour Operators and Travel Agents don’t want to use the same old images that all their competitors are using from image libraries like shutterstock and istock. They also don’t want to have to spend money if at all possible. Your clients want to stand out from the crowd and attract customers with amazing images and videos.
B2B buyers also need helpful images of experiences and accommodations to help them visualise what is on offer and be able to sell them better. They also need images for their websites, social media and the beautiful documentation that they send out to their customers to encourage them to book.
They are hoping you will help them with that.
Videos are gold dust. Especially if you can send video files with no branding to your clients that they can edit and use as their own. Don’t just send a link to Youtube or vimeo, send the actual file as your clients can do much more with this and in the end, it will make you look better.
At Travel Kinship we always recommend to our clients to ensure that there is a line in their annual budget for the production of images and videos. I can’t stress enough how important this is. If you spend a small amount each year and gradually increase the budget you will soon see the positive effect.
It is important to be strategic about what images and videos you produce and make sure that they are what your clients are most looking for. Ask what your clients need and again, think about the current trends and what messages you want these images and videos to say about what you offer and how you do business.
Another small yet very important piece of advice is that you always give your files good titles which explain exactly what the images is of and if there are any copyright considerations. Also that you always share the highest resolution possible. A great way to ensure you do this is to use a system like SquirrelFish which guides you through this process.
If you can get creative about ways to train your office staff, drivers and guides and in the field partners to take good photos that can be a huge help. Motivating your team to get involved in creating media can be a wonderful way to create a sense of teamwork, develop creativity and innovation across the team and receive materials from different perspectives.
The production of media is a huge area and we will bring you more tips and advice into the future.
Fact sheets and FAQs are another of my favourite areas that I believe offer huge value to B2B buyers and are often at the bottom of the “To Do” list for busy travel suppliers.
My philosophy is that the more you can show a B2B buyer the variety of what you offer and make it easier for them to promote and sell it, the more they will do so. They are always looking for something new and different.
Creating a collection of “Fact Sheets” and FAQs relevant to your operation can be invaluable. Some ideas include:
Helpful Tips for Visitors – many B2B clients really appreciate tips to pass on to their customers such as best restaurants in each area, what to pack, great books to read and documentaries/films to watch before you visit, what to buy when you visit etc.
Thematic “Guides” – grouping relevant experiences, accommodations and itineraries and explaining why you feel they work best for each theme…
Our Guide to Sustainable Travel, Family Travel, Trekking etc
Fact sheet on where and when to see certain wildlife
How to sell climbing Kilimanjaro
What to know about booking “Day of the Dead” in Mexico
Tips for Green Travel in South East Asia
The many different ways to visit Macchu Picchi in Peru
Thailand Beach Destinations – how do they compare and contrast?
How to pick the right Tiger Safari for your client in India etc
For Accommodations, it might be a general fact sheet on the hotel and all facilities, a breakdown of different room types and their configurations and facilities, your sustainability policy and activities, spa and restaurant menus, concierge and tour services, guides to the local area etc.
KEY TIP: Brainstorm with your sales team to see what areas create the most client questions, what kind of questions do your customers frequently ask – then create fact sheets and guides around these as a priority.
The best thing is that every “Fact Sheet” or guide you write for your B2B clients can also be slightly modified and put on your website as a blog and linked to from your social media on an ongoing basis. Thereby improving your SEO and content marketing at the same time.
Another great benefit for having a complete set of FAQs and fact sheets is that they make great training and sales resources for your own sales team to ensure everyone has access to and is using the same information. A great system for storing and sharing this kind of information with your staff as well as clients is SquirrelFish.
Offering clear rates and terms and conditions to your clients is key. If you can provide rate books covering the majority of your services many Tour Operators especially are very grateful. Clear terms and conditions around making bookings, cancellation policies and how you take payments is also crucial information for your clients.
Other information like a list of contacts for different roles such as main sales contact, accounts contact, marketing contact and so on. Key is to clearly provide a 24-hour emergency contact number / Whatsapp / email.
Once you have created some or all of my above suggestions, the next and equally important step is to make it as easy as possible for your clients to find what they need, when they need it.
Many suppliers use free solutions such as Dropbox or Google docs or spend a lot of money designing special password-protected areas on their websites but these can be quite frustrating for buyers to use as they are not searchable and buyers have to log into each separate supplier when required.
At Travel Kinship we recommend using a cloud software platform such as SquirrelFish to store and share your resources with your contacts. You can also use it as a marketing platform to find and contact other potential buyers.
SquirrelFish has a word search function and other facilities that make it fast and hassle-free to find and download resources. You can see a video demo for suppliers HERE. For Travel Buyers it allows them to access all suppliers in one platform. It can even be used as a ready-made “Agent Login” area on your website. You can see a demo video HERE
However, you decide to store and share your digital resources your clients will be extremely appreciative of receiving your “Sales Support Toolkit” and all that it contains.
Make sure that you send details on how to access your “Sales Support Toolkit” to all your clients and any new prospects. Ensure you keep it up to date and send regular reminders to your contacts via your newsletters, webinars and social media.
Could you just give us a few more details and we will be in touch