Many of my colleagues, clients and associates have noted that their clients’ buying habits have completely changed.
Business events groups used to make their bookings a year or more in advance and buy all the services through their local destination management company (DMC). However, clients now seem comfortable with waiting until the last minute to make their bookings, hoping to get the best deals to be had. They also contact suppliers directly, cutting out the services of DMCs.
How can a business cope with these trends? Here are a few ideas:
Know thyself. Price is a key factor in our industry. Be clear about your value . Give clients a good reason for doing business with you, such as service, the know-how, convenience, local expertise, etc.
Understand the marketplace. Clients are super price-sensitive. A client can be lost simply because the “wrong” hotel was proposed at the wrong budget price.
Offer value. Your customers are contacting your competition as well. Does your business offer more value? How do you demonstrate your value in your day-to-day dealings with your client? Do you actively follow up each proposal? You will be surprised how much clients appreciate receiving a personal follow-up call to discuss the programme they received from you. Often this personal touch generates business.
Build and maintain positive business relationships. Positive relationships are basic to every business. For your business to grow, it must continually expand and improve its network of relationships and the quality of those relationships with both suppliers and clients. Without positive relationships, your business may not grow.
More and more clients are contacting suppliers to obtain prices. While we cannot prevent clients from “going direct”, ensuring you maintain an open and honest relationship both with your clients and suppliers will show integrity and professionalism.
A final word of caution. Before you change your business model by reacting to the whims of an ever-changing market place, consider how your actions and tactics fit with your company. If changing tactics and price fits your business or your promise to your client, go for it.