This is the last part of our blog series dedicated to understanding third party meeting planners – we are now all experts on what third parties are and why event planners use their services (and if you’re not, click here to start from the beginning).
But how can you take what you’ve learned and effectively apply it your sales strategies? Well, it boils down to learning about third parties’ existing relationships.
First Step: Understand a Third Party Planner’s Existing Relationships with Clients
Every relationship between a third party and its client is different. If you plan on optimizing your sales efforts around a customer’s third party meeting planner, (whether it be Helms Briscoe, Conference Direct, Experient, etc.) you need to take the time to ask the following questions about their relationship:
- Is it a Formal Written Agreement?
- Is it a “Test Meeting” to see if the third party can show value?
- Is it a long term, deeply established relationship?
- Is it an exclusive relationship (does the organization use only that third party)?
- Do they work with one division of the organization or all the offices/chapters?
- Are they part of an implant structure (back to the SMMP model)?
All of these can factor into how you go about building a relationship with that third party planner.
Second Step: Create a Third Party Game Plan
Begin by identifying the third party planners in your geographical region – don’t limit yourself to your back yard, but use that as a starting point! Visit their website and find representatives in your area. Reach out to them and introduce yourself and your hotel.
Be proactive… don’t wait for them to come to you! Make sure to express your interest in working with them and learning about their customers and convey your understanding of their hot button issues (such as the importance of responding to their RFPs quickly or offering “best deals” up front).
Once the third party is comfortable with you, they will increase the amount of client exposure you get! But don’t stop there – Follow up! Don’t just reach out once, keep reinforcing and continuing to build the relationship over time.
The bottom line is that third party meeting planner relationships can be confusing, but if you make a concerted effort to get to know the third party and its clients, you are well on your way to an effective business relationship and knowing how to swim with the sharks!