Why network with suppliers in the first place?
Many travel advisors like to plan FAM trips during the fall when summer bookings start to wind down (is it ever really slow season?). This is a great time for a FAM trip for many reasons! You can really experience a destination from a fresh perspective when you aren’t fighting hoards of people. And, of course, it’s easier to get good photos and videos for your marketing too!
But while you are out enjoying the sights and taking detailed notes to help you plan your clients’ dream vacations, there’s something else you should do – network with suppliers. A good relationship with vendors is the greatest thing to have in your travel agent tool kit. With the right connections you can work directly with your favorite hotels and resorts to give clients that “above and beyond” experience. This is where you set yourself apart from the competition.
If you’re a new travel agent, know that it will take a while to build yourself a strong network. But the more you stay at it – the easier it will become! Here are few tips as you hone your skills networking within the travel industry – specifically while on a FAM trip!
Networking with Suppliers on FAM Trips
1. Reach out before your FAM trip
You can book many FAM experiences without having a personal connection to a hotel or resort. These FAM trips you might find on property’s website or through your IATA card. If so, it will be up to you to find a contact or sales representative at the property. Sometimes this is easy to find (right on the website), and sometimes you might get passed around a bit. This is not the time to start asking for freebies! At this point you just want to make a genuine connection with someone in order to learn more about what the property offers from the best source possible – the sales team! Let them know when you will be staying and ask if someone would have time to meet with you so you can learn. Typically suppliers are happy to oblige!
2. Ask for a tour of the property while you are there
If you are able to make a good connection at your property, ask the sales rep or staff if someone would be willing to give you a tour. This is your chance to hear, in depth, about all the property has to offer. There is rarely time during a stay to take advantage of all the services or experiences a resort has to offer.
3. Find out what the supplier would like to showcase
When you do have a chance to meet with a sales representative or take a tour, ask lots of questions. Discover what new projects or offerings the hotel or resort is working towards. If the sales rep seems to be showcasing something in particular, chances are there’s a good reason. Show your interest in whatever the sales rep is trying to emphasize about the property and this will help you get a feel for what kinds of clients would most enjoy this property.
4. Let them know you will be highlighting your stay
If you plan to feature the destination on your website or social media, be sure to let the sales team know! They may have special media files you can use and share. And, of course, they will probably want to reshare your content as well.
5. Follow up when you return home
When you get home, don’t forget to follow up with any connections you’ve made and let them know how much you enjoyed your stay. This keeps the door open when you are ready to book a trip for your clients!