Are you in a relationship? | TravelResearchOnline


Are you in a relationship?

Some relationships work out. Others, well, let’s just say—not so much. The “not so much” relationships are the bread and butter of my business thanks to a 50% divorce rate and other factors. But I also deal with many relationships that work incredibly well. And when you have a relationship that works very well, it is a beautiful thing.

In dating, if you are single and playing the field, you have no relationship. You are merely moving from one person to the next in hopes of finding a relationship. It is no different in travel. If you are running your business without relationships, you are quite likely running your business into the ground.

Relationships are always a two-way street. Both sides will give and take and compromise. Both sides will reap the rewards relatively equally. Selling travel, you can’t just sell whatever is available and expect any substantial return. In the most obvious sense, take a look at compensation. Sure you can sell 100 trips divided among 25 suppliers and earn a very basic commission level. But what if you sell 100 trips divided among 4 suppliers and earn a commission level 50% higher? It only makes sense doesn’t it?

When choosing preferred suppliers, commission levels certainly play a part, but since my business is built on service to my clients the suppliers’ ability to resolve issue plays an important role as well. Let’s face it, I have little to no control over the end user experience; so, I had best make my choices wisely.

For example (and apologies to Les-Lee if I am stepping on her toes), last week, I had two clients at Beaches Negril. Both were single moms with daughters and both had concierge rooms. The day after they checked in, I received a call that they were concerned about some minor construction outside of their rooms and the noise. They were not upset, but wanted to see if I could find out how long it might last. Well, here is where the relationship kicked into high gear. I called the resort and spoke to the Director of Guest Relations and explained the situation. In the 5 minute phone call, she assured me that the situation would be resolved. An hour later, I received a call from the client advising that the Director had found them on the beach and discussed their issues. While they were enjoying the beach, Beaches made arrangements to pack up their rooms, relocate them to an upgraded room, and deliver the new keys back to them on the beach. Now that is service.

I have a relationship with Beaches. By the nature of my business, I typically only book during summer, spring, and winter school breaks, but I do a significant number of room nights to make it both attractive to me (in terms of dollars and service) and to them (in terms of butts in the beds). Sure I could have put these two families in several other resorts in Jamaica; but how would it have best served me, the families, or the resort? I venture to say that had the same thing happened at a non-preferred resort, the client would have been appeased with an apology and no action—and they likely would not return to me for their future travel. For me, I likely would have earned less. And for the resort, likely I would not have sent too many new customers their way.

While I am currently content without a personal relationship, I am certainly thankful for the business one I have developed with Beaches. As Les-Lee would say—a huge thumbs up!

  One thought on “Are you in a relationship?

  1. Supplier relationships says:

    Relationships are so important, and that is why I am so dismayed with the current state of tourism suppliers as compared to a few years ago. We work with many suppliers worldwide like many agencies, and it used to be that the majority of the time it was easy to build relationships – and meaningful and fun. Most suppliers were very interested in creative ideas and ways to grow business. They genuinely welcomed new ways to grow business including sales and marketing. What I find more and more though is that these days the past friendly proactive types have been replaced with new sales and mktg leaders who lack warmth and creativity. I hate to say that and it’s not uniform as there are still some gems in our industry. But when it comes to Caribbean/Mexico/Hawaii suppliers especially there is so much bureacracy and actual fear of trying new things. I long for those days when an introduction was met with ‘Great to hear from you’ as opposed to nowadays ‘Sorry – talk to someone else or no ability to look at any new ideas until next year since our industry is hurting’. It’s interesting also to see execs so warm and friendly in interviews and videos – but if you try to talk to some of them they put a glass wall around themselves with lack of openness to hearing things. I know our industry has friendly/enthusiastic/open leaders, but I get frustrated in seeing how so many are not genuine and have a separate p.r. persona. I would love to hear other people’s experiences on this topic – especially when it comes to openness of reaching top execs of suppliers you sell.

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