It sounds obvious, doesn’t it: that when you employ a representation company to market your hotel, resort or destination marketing company in a distant market, they should carry out their role as an extension of your own sales and marketing team and not in a way that is actually aimed at promoting their own business. Yet, all too often, I have seen exactly that happen.
Here is the challenge that makes some hotels, resorts and DMC’s shy off hiring a representative at all: how do you control someone who is working for you thousands of miles away – especially as they are not actually a direct employee of your own business but make their income from representing several hotels, resorts and DMC’s in the same way ? Many representation companies based in the U.K. have been very successful and have grown to a very substantial size. Now there are several new companies in the field. How should you choose ?
The first factor you will certainly want to consider is experience – not only of the company but of the person who will be going out to represent your business in the U.K. and Europe. Large companies have several employees, so whilst the company itself has been in the business a long time, do you have any assurance as to the experience and network of the individual making sales calls on your behalf ? There are many other elements but this is the basis of representation.
Next you will want to consider how well the companies you are considering align with your objectives. If you want your business strongly and individually represented with good feedback to you on progress, can a large company, even with many more employees but also many more properties to represent, achieve that for you ? Or is a smaller company with fewer properties on its books more likely to align with what you want in providing the more personal service ?
Thirdly, what is the profile of each of the companies you are considering ? Do they have a strong strategic approach or do they seem to be all over the place – happy to accept any business, in any market who will retain them ? Do the properties and DMC’s they represent align well with your own business, in terms of standards and locations ?
Next, what services do you want from a representative and how well do the companies you are considering match up ? If they offer a set package of services, do you want all of those ? Are you willing to pay even for those that you don’t need ? Can the smaller companies offer you the range of services that a large company can – such as revenue management, distribution and social media help and GDS connectivity – whilst keeping it small and personal to your business ?
Lastly, you will definitely want to assess how good communication is from your representative to you. Your business is going to rest partially in their hands and if you like to keep a tight rein on how your business is developing, can you anticipate prompt reporting and responses to your enquiries – not only in what they say they will do ? You will get a good sense of this from how promptly and effectively they are replying to your enquiries before you sign with them.
At the end of the day, a good representative company works as an extension of your own sales and marketing team – and works closely with the other team members. The success of your business relies heavily on this close relationship, so that the representative and your own team are relaying the same message to tour operators, corporate clients and individual clients. Your revenue depends on the representative working to your objectives and not simply chalking you up as another contract, moving quickly on to find another.