“There’s more than one way to skin a cat” and that phrase applies as much to sales representatives of resorts and hotels as to anything else. Gruesome as the phrase is, in a blog that reaches an audience in some 141 countries, I should clarify that it is a phrase of possibly 17th century origin which now simply means that there is more than one way to achieve something.
Sales representatives of resorts and hotels diligently present their client resorts and hotels to product managers of tour operators and wholesalers and decision makers of a wide variety of corporate travel bookers in the UK and Europe. However, you have to be constantly aware that such people see a veritable barrage of presentations, e-mails, phone calls and more in the course of any one year from which just a small number of resorts and hotels have to be chosen. So, how can we best ensure that our clients are those that get included for next year’s programme ?
Clearly, one way is to persist – keep returning in one way or another to remind the product manager or decision maker directly of your own particularly client resorts and hotels on which he or she would decide. That is important but it is also important to moderate such activity, so as not to annoy the decision maker and, ultimately, result in the opposite effect to what was intended. Many product managers of niche operators, particularly, have very strong views on what they will select for their programme. Your persistence alone may well not be enough to break through the barriers.
Given that you are often presenting a resort or hotel which may be relatively unknown in your target market of end users, what if you could get some of those ultimate intended guests to help you push your client resort or hotel forward ? Does that sound like an impossible ideal ? It doesn’t have to be. You just have to find the best way to put your resort or hotel in front of the audience you ultimately intend to be the source of its guests. Two principal options – not mutually exclusive – are:
1. Social Media Marketing: if you have a well established presence in appropriate social media channels, with a high level of end-user followers, then you can use this power to establish many of your loyal followers, who may well have previously stayed at the resort or hotel in question, as brand advocates. Some appropriate social media channels are a less obvious choice: for example, SmartOtels own presentations on Slideshare have already attracted 2,400 views – a number that is constantly rising. Slideshare is visually very strong and the detail in a presentation helpful to potential guests. Surprisingly, many resorts and hotels and their sales representatives overlook Twitter, which is actually a powerful tool in terms of getting your message amplified – so long as the message is of sufficient quality.
2. Print media – newspapers and magazines: it’s easy to overlook that traditional print media still have pretty strong impact when it comes to presenting the visual and actual appeal of clients resorts and hotels. Many of these have online versions which are also supported by social media marketing, so you get the best of both worlds. This older media is more widely read and more influential than some social media pundits would have you believe. As with all things in high demand, getting your clients resorts and hotels featured in print media, in a cost effective way, is not an easy task but it is doable if tackled correctly. Like most things in business, progress is heavily relationship based – so those of you who have cast aside maintaining good business relationships for simpler virtual relationships may have difficulty – but a good starting point is getting back in touch with the travel journalists and travel bloggers you have no doubt come across in your business lives.
SmartOtels recent activities are leading to 4 features in the UK’s Daily Telegraph and Guardian newspapers on client resorts in Thailand and the Philippines, as well as a number of articles and features on other client resorts and their destinations coming up in luxury travel magazines and blogs. Raising the profile of our client resorts and hotels to the audience we ultimately want to be their guests stimulates demand coming through travel agents and direct to the tour operators for these resorts and hotels to be available through them – to be included in their programmes.
In this approach, the Product Managers and other decision makers will still ultimately make the choice in discussion with SmartOtels but stimulating interest on a B2C level by encouraging end-users to act for you as brand advocates is a powerful way for sales representatives of resorts and hotels to support their main sales activity, which is conducted B2B.
SmartOtels portfolio currently includes: