Written by Martha Valdivia, Director of Membership Development, CHTA
As Director of Membership Development for CHTA, I many times get asked by new Allied Members how to leverage this new relationship to really make an impact on their penetration in the region and ultimately increase their leads and business. When I look at our Allied Members that are “working the region”, there are a few common business practices that I see across the board that really make an impact and resonate with the potential hotels they are trying to reach.
In all honesty, the days of meeting an hotelier at one of CHTA event and closing a deal on the floor or with a few follow-up emails are gone. The selling cycle in the Caribbean is a marathon, not a sprint; but one that requires sincere engagement in the region over time and reaps great rewards!
A Targeted Approach
One of the first questions I get asked by allied members is, “Can I get an Excel list of all the hotel members and their contact information?” CHTA has a policy not to release this mass list (and instead provides the online directory) for good reason. Hoteliers do not respond well to one-size fits all blast emails as their first introduction to a company. The nature of business, parallel to the nature of travel, has become a very personal experience. Talk to hoteliers directly and show them that you have a solution to a challenge or a desire.
Once you have pinpointed the destinations, look to our online directory and reach out. It’s is a different kind of ‘cold call’ when you can say you are a ‘fellow member of CHTA’.
Education as Part of Sales
As any good salesman will note, the sales process begins with active listening—asking the right questions to lead your potential client to reveal a pain point that you can solve. Pain points are usually directly related with a process, a product or methodology that the hotelier doesn’t know exists or lacks the resources to implement. If your company can make the connection and teach the hotelier how working with you will facilitate their business, reducing costs and/or incrementing revenue, you’re halfway there. Education can come in several ways.
The Value of Face-Time
I had a conversation a few weeks after CHIEF with an hotelier who participated in our Speed-Networking session. He was telling me how he would have never considered speaking to one of the Allied Members that he met there but was thankful that he did because it opened his eyes to a new way of managing a part of his business. Sometimes that’s all it takes—a two minute introduction that has a ‘wow effect’. That should be the goal when Allied Members come to our events: Research the companies you will be meeting, define their need areas, provide a show-stopping, eye-opening moment for your targets so that when you do your follow-up, you are remembered.
CHTA signature events are an ideal opportunity for the important face-time but, if budget allows, targeted trips down to visit your warm leads are a boost. This is where the online directory again becomes a resource. Plan out your trip and cast your net of visits, the continuous touch points throughout the year will lead to stronger relationships that lead to confidence in your business and ultimately will facilitate the sale.
The lesson learned is that there is success in building consistent engagement—whether it comes from a well thought out newsletter article, a special offer that speaks to a pain-point or a face-to-face meeting. CHTA is a tool for you to use as an allied member to increase your presence and facilitate your sales team’s engagement with the region. We encourage engaged members and are always here to answer any questions that you may have as you build your business in the region.