Is something amiss in supplierland? Or is everything hunky dory? At TRO, we have discussed keeping a close eye on suppliers in case of financial difficulties; and while we are a long way from being out of this recession, that is still good advice. But this past week, a random post on the TRO Community, coupled with an unexpected meeting in the supermarket began to get me thinking.
There was a post asking if two very well known suppliers (no, I am not going to name names and create gigantic rumor) were stable. The travel professional had recently heard that the Business Development Managers were being laid off left and right. Some were without much notice. Other agents had chimed in that they knew of several BDMs that went from one “stable” supplier to a “more stable” supplier only to be laid off.
There I was looking like a homeless bum toting my daughter along for our every other week journey to the grocery store. To my surprise horror, a local Business Development Manager pulled into the parking spot next to me. There was no way to avoid her, so I said hello and we spent about ten minutes catching up over the fresh corn. We talked a bit about business and how things corporate wide were beginning to look up. And then she said something that stuck me, “But, the sales team is feeling all sorts of pressure to build sales.” Bookings were up corporately, but the sales team was getting the beat down. Are the suppliers not confident? Are the agents letting them down?
Undeniably, the economy is in the crapper. Some talking heads have said it may have bottomed out and begun a recovery—or maybe not. But if the supplier reps are being laid off and being given marching orders to drum up the business, this is the perfect opportunity for travel professionals to do just that!
No there are not a lot of co-op dollars available, but there is plenty of the other co-op to go around—cooperation. Look at your marketing plan and find the suppliers that fit into your current and future programs and reach out to them. Invite them to talk about growing your mutual business.
Let’s be honest, we all enjoy it when a client walks in and drops a sale in our laps. Suppliers are no different. If you reach out to the supplier and drop your sales into their laps, when things turn around, guess who will be first in line for the return of the co-op dollars?
Right now, we need to strike while the iron is hot. The suppliers are still unsure of the future and those agencies that can help them out will come out ahead. It does not matter if you are a multi branch agency or a small specialty agency working from a corner of your living room. You need business and they need it too.
While we can disagree on supplier policies till the crows come home, in the end, without clients and suppliers, we all have no business. So when a supplier goes “all in” and loses, we all do.