How can your hotel win more business from venue-finding agencies?
I've heard hotel managers in the past say they didn't want agency-related business due the commission involved and the poor conversion rate, and was genuinely gobsmacked. Agents provide an incredibly valuable service to both their end-user clients and venues, and I would always recommend building relationships with agents, for me it's a no-brainer and commission should be welcomed as a cost of doing more business.
For a venue just starting out on the agent-venue relationship road, what matters most? I spoke to JaneFrost from HotelRes, a cambridgeshire-based global venue-finder, and asked what basic steps a hotel or venue can take to get more agent enquiries and more business confirming.
Here's Jane's top tips:
"Regular updates, so we know first what is new at the venue. We can then help the venue communicate this by contacting all our clients. This does not need to be an appointment; an email or phone call will do!
The only way we make money is from the commission we earn. We only earn 8 – 10% commission and often we have had to work very hard to get a booking to confirm with a venue. Then, we wait for the booking to take place before we can claim our commission. It is vital we are paid promptly without having to chase. If a venue has a certain procedure for commission this should be communicated clearly at the beginning (i.e. invoice address, PO Number, specific accounts email).
Famtrips are always a great way to ensure an agent really knows your property and can properly sell the product. Make sure the trip includes any unique selling factors. Does your chef offer canape making classes, or are your grounds suitable for a scavenger hunt?
Work with your agents. If you are going in to see a client that you know an agent works with, just let them know before you go. Mention that you respect the relationship the client has with their agent to them. The agent is much more likely to sell you and work with you if they trust you.
Offer to jointly host client famtrips. If an agent knows you are willing to entertain clients with them they will work with you to get new contacts through your doors."
Thinking about agencies as an extension of your sales team in the marketplace will make sure you are maximising your relationships. Make it easy for them to sell you to their clients.