7809_GiovandoWatts_0042WEBThis guest blog comes to us from Lucy Giovando Watts, CMP, CMM and Founder & CEO, Giovando Watts & Company, Inc.  We asked her to provide some insight on how vendors can best work with planners and she had a bunch of fantastic information to share, so read on!

I have a great group of vendors at my fingertips. I really do! It is actually one of my top selling points that I pitch to all of my new clients. These are trusted and vetted companies that have provided great service and excellent pricing over the years. Plus…they are just fun to work with!

Don’t you love working with a great vendor? I look forward to our brainstorming calls, seeing them onsite at my events and getting the final bill. That’s right…even the final bill. Because I know that the final bill will be easy and transparent with no unexpected surprises.

But, how does a seasoned meeting and event planner like myself deem a business to be a great vendor?

How can companies that provide products and services in the hospitality industry collaborate better with planners and grow their businesses? Working with and selling to planners is not rocket science, but many vendors are doing it well and many are not. So, below are a few tips and tricks that I would like to share to help you gain long-term, great clients.

Thank you, Thank you!: We all want to work with vendors that are grateful to have our business. But how many companies actually tell you how thankful they are to work with you? I remember managing a bid for a shipping company for an international trade show for one of my clients. We narrowed down the bids to two vendors and both companies provided comparable pricing and excellent service. But, there was one difference that set the two apart: on the phone interview, one of the vendors said that they would love to work with us and would be grateful for the opportunity. As you can probably guess, the other vendor said nothing like this on their call. It was a simple act of voicing their gratitude for potential business that ultimately got that grateful vendor the job.

Best Client Ever: How do you keep planners as long-term clients? The secret is to make us feel as if we are your biggest and best client ever. Returning emails and phone calls in a timely matter goes without saying. But, more importantly is not oversharing what you are doing for other clients. Working with a vendor out of Chicago a few years back, I realized how vital it is to keep clients feeling important. The vendor I was working with was swamped with another program. Instead of responding to my emails with an estimated time of when she would have the information I requested, she would elaborate about the other big program that she was working on and how much work it was for her. Although I understand that I was not their only client, the vendor’s oversharing made me feel that my program was not important to them. And no one wants to ever feel unimportant.

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships: In real estate and events, it is all about location, location, location. But with clients, the key is relationships, relationships, relationships. The fact of the matter is that planners want to work with people who they like. Period. All of the great businesses that I have worked with and more importantly, still work with, are ran by people who I like. They are honest, reliable and fun individuals who have become part of my extended team when I am managing a program for a client. They understand that we are all in this together and an event is only as good as all of its moving parts.

Call Me, Maybe?: Building these type of relationships does take time, energy and lots of patience. By attending hospitality events and volunteering on industry committees, these relationships will naturally start forming. But, the key is to keep up these relationships by reaching out to the planners via email and calls when it makes sense. And that is the kicker…when it makes sense. A budding relationship can quickly go sour if you reach out without a real reason other than to sell your company. You will go much farther by committing to those volunteer activities and forming true relationships with planners than sending random emails and phone calls.

Truthfully, your company will naturally sell itself by your actions. It is really important to be yourself and enjoy what you do. That is not only the key in working with planners, but in life itself!