A few days ago I was visiting Luke, a hostel operator here in Santiago. Like most hostels, he has flyers for various tours in the area, but there was one curious detail that I noticed: nearly all of them were from the same company.
In fact, this wasn’t the first time I’d seen this, so I turned to him and said: ‘Luke, why do you have flyers for just this company?’
‘Well, the owner is my friend.’
‘And what do you do with all the other flyers?’ I asked.
His answer was direct:
‘I throw them in the bin as soon as they walk out the door.’
‘Why?’ I asked, surprised by the strength of his response.
‘Well, they just walk here and leave their advertising material…but I don’t know who they are! And they expect me to work to sell their business.’
This small exchange was illuminating and served to crystallize something I have been noticing for a while. Literally all the struggling tourism operators I’ve talked to lately have one major thing in common: a lack of relationships.
The Quantity and Quality of Relationships You Have Can Make or Break Your Business.
That tour operator isn’t just friends with Luke. He’s friends with everybody. In fact, any Santiago-based tourism operator reading this post knows exactly who I am talking about. This guy gets around in a big way – and now he’s got the burgeoning business to back it up.
How did I meet Luke? At a tourism event. Because both of us are active in the tourism community here in Santiago, we were able to meet and form a relationship.
It was an organized pow wow for various tourism businesses, including tours and hotels. This is great, but the key is what comes after. Do they stay in touch?
Relationships begin to form after the 3rd, 4th or 5th contact. Here are a few ideas to help you propel your relationships:
1. Have You Considered Hosting Your Own Event?
Too often, people hold back and wait for others to organize something. Do you own a hostel? What about organizing a monthly tourism mixer during the lower seasons?
If you don’t own a hotel or hostel, what’s stopping you from getting in touch with someone who does?
Regardless of whether it’s a hotel, bar or restaurant, just think about how much knowledge you could derive from sharing information regularly with other local businesses.
2. Could You Start a Facebook Group? Have You Looked In Your Area?
Facebook groups are a non-stop source of information, if you can find the right one. If there isn’t one for your city or area, why not just create one and start inviting people?
3. Check out Travel Massive.
Travel Massive is a global organization with a mission: to connect travel industry insiders like you and me. There are events in cities worldwide, and I’ve been to several of them.
They also have Facebook groups active in cities around the world.
4. Join Your Local Tourism Association, and Go To All the Events.
That’s what this is all about – becoming a regular, known face in your tourism community.
Are you maintaining regular contact with people in your industry – especially those who send you business? If not, why not?
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