Last week, I tried to explain what I, as an agency owner, needed from my preferred travel suppliers. If you missed it, go take a read and leave a comment about what you need. But you know, travel is a two way street. We build our client base off of relationships; and it should be no different with suppliers. When you have a relationship with a supplier, they are much more willing to work with you to help you succeed. Waivers and favors can be managed. More co-op dollars can be wrangled. And just as much as we can help build a supplier, they can help build our business. But, don’t expect that relationship to come automatically. Here’s what suppliers need from us.
- Be honest. Above all, be honest! If you made a mistake, own it and they are much more likely to help you. If your cruise night attendance is not as high as expected, let them know. Even simple things like ordering only the collateral needed.
- Keep them informed. Hopefully, you will be working together for a long time. Make time to touch base with your suppliers (in person, by email, by phone, on a FAM, etc) and let them know what is happening in your world. Did you hire some new people? Is there some new unknown competition you are dealing with? Are you unable to match some cheapo travel dot com and losing business? Let them know. Together with what they are seeing elsewhere, they will be in a better position to help.
- Limit your requests for favors. Suppliers are able to bail you out. They can waive policy, grant extensions, beef up a perk, pop up a commission, and many other perks. But let’s not take advantage of their generosity. You don’t like the client that keeps asking for more…neither do they.
- Be loyal. There are very few products or destinations that is unique to a single supplier. We know you can sell Hawaii through several suppliers. The Princess experience is pretty much the same as the Royal Caribbean one. Hopefully you have picked a preferred supplier—stick with them unless there is a compelling reason not to. What is compelling? Maybe your best client honeymooned in a particular hotel and they are booking an anniversary trip back to that hotel that is not carried by your supplier. Valid. Remember, suppliers look at your sales and your sales determine your commissions. When I had my retail location, my agents never “got” why I harped on that. One year, we missed a 5% bump in commission by $100! The next year, they got it!
Do any of you have some more suggestions? Please leave a comment.