The popularity of internet dating sites to find an ‘ideal match’ is growing – having been tried by 74% of Singles in the U.S. according to recent Statistic Brain figures – as a tool that fits our busy working lives and reduced social lives to find the “ideal match”. However, what use of these sites must lead to, of course, is meeting up in person – there is simply no substitute for this, whether the aim is just to date more of the opposite sex or to form a lifelong relationship.
In business, it is tempting to see internet research, e-mail, LinkedIn and other social media, Skype, conference calls, screen sharing and other online tools as a fast route to building relationships with prospective clients but, in reality, most business people still attend trade shows, attend networking events and arrange one to one meetings to turn the online relationship into a genuine human relationship. Deals can be concluded without ever meeting the other person but the best, lasting deals come from working with people you have met and feel you know, to some degree.
Those who know me, know that, from 2007 up to this year, I lived in southern Spain whilst working for hotels and serviced apartments in London. I spent 3 months of 2012 working from the Philippines. I built relationships for my clients with various companies online but I still travelled back to the U.K. at least twice each year to build and develop relationships with the people I worked with and for, as well as to use events to network – to discover and meet new clients. Networking is not just to meet leads we are already in touch with but to find leads we would otherwise not know about. In the same way, in a face to face meeting we can more readily spot an opportunity and convert it into business. There is ultimately no substitute for the human, face to face contact – the quality of the human relationship is crucial to the quality of the business done.
In hotel representation, the difference that SmartOtels offer our hotel clients is our ability to meet face to face with prospective clients here in the U.K. and Europe to build relationships that will generate real, lasting business for our hotels and resorts. Of course, we explore leads on the internet, by ‘phone and e-mail and more (as our clients themselves could do) so that the people we meet face to face are qualified leads but it is the strength of our existing networks and the leads we will add to that, finalised face to face, which will ensure strong business that will continue. This is the step our hotel and resort clients cannot themselves afford to make but which we make affordable by sharing the cost across a cohesive selection of clients.
Similarly, it is for the benefit of building real, lasting business that Joaquin Cababie of SmartOtels will this week start a visit to meet face to face with a number of prospective hotel and resort clients. When we talk to tour operators, corporate clients and agents here in the U.K. and Europe, we can show web sites, brochures and virtual tours but there is ultimately no stronger argument to the people we visit here than to be able to say “I have been there and can vouch for the photos I am showing you and can tell you about the attractions in the area that I have also visited”.
Despite the many very useful tools now at our disposal or coming soon, these are always best used to ensure that we are meeting the right people at the best time. Human contact, face to face, adds a quality, durability and strength to a business relationship that no online tool will ever be able to match. What’s your view – is your business best developed face to face ? Please comment below.