So, what can a BDM (let’s use this term for simplicity) do for you? For starters—education. You cannot effectively sell a product without knowing it. Besides a FAM trip, the next best solution is to talk to your BDM. He or she is in the know and can tell you about the new bedding, the new chef, the new disco, or anything else about the properties or cruise lines they represent. If a resort just added some family suites that may not be reflected in the current brochure, your BDM will know, allowing you to pass that information along to your family travelers.
Your BDM has the inside scoop. They have internal sales meetings and are privy to a lot of information that may not be released just yet. But most BDM’s will keep you apprised about upcoming sales or incentives so that you can modify your marketing plan and prepare to notify your clients when the time is right.
Problems? If you run into a problem that you cannot solve on your own, your BDM is there for you. Maybe the client did not get the experience they expected when jackhammers fired up outside their room every morning at 6am. Maybe there was a missed connection and your client lost a half day of their trip. Very often the BDM is able to help you mitigate minor incidents before they become bigger problems.
Do you need some money to advertise? Ask your BDM! OK, so they are not going to cut you a check to do as you please; but, if you put together a promotion, and pitch it to your BDM, you will probably get some method of offsetting your costs. For example, if you can arrange a cruise night, the BDM can usually provide an incentive for your clients to book that night. They can pick up some of the cost of the food. They might be able to get you a commission override on any bookings that result. The key on these types of partnerships is to spell out what you are going to do and be realistic with the results—you should know your market better than the BDM. Promise 100 people with a 50% book rate and deliver 5 with none and you will have a hard time getting help again.
FAMS; we all know that the best way to sell a product is to have experience with it. While most suppliers will organize periodic FAMS for agents, the ones by the BDM are the ones you really want. Sometimes (if you are a producer or have the potential) they are at no cost to you. Other times, there is a minimal cost. The difference with a BDM sponsored FAM is that you are going to be traveling with that particular BDM’s agencies. This is an incredible value as it offers networking opportunities with other agencies in your market, and you will have the ear of your BDM for the duration; he or she should be familiar with your market as well. There is also the opportunity to put together a regional promotion with all the agencies.
Keep in mind that most travel suppliers have strained budgets as well. Gone are the days of a BDM making a weekly sales call and buying lunch for the entire office. It happens, just not too frequently. And in many cases, with the birth of home-based agencies, your BDM may not even live in the region—it may be a phone support BDM. But whether in person or on phone, the BDM is the one at the supplier that can make things happen.
Build that relationship. If you do not know the BDM of ALL of your preferred suppliers, make the calls. Reach out. After all, they are also earning a commission on you, just like you are for your clients. So it is in their best interest to help you succeed. But keep in mind, as with the client that always kicks tires, if you are not producing, they may not be as enthusiastic to help you—which is yet another solid reason to select a handful of preferred suppliers and to concentrate your sales and efforts!
Seek out the relationships… and build upon them!