The Art of Developing Client Relationships
By Eric Blanc President, ACOM | July 10, 2011
Whether personal or professional, the meetings industry is primarily based on relationships. Meeting planners are often influenced by their colleagues and the relationships built with the service personnel they work with to help produce successful meetings. Often times, the decision for a meeting planner to return to a venue or destination (or not) rests solely on the ability of convention services managers (CSMs) to develop thriving client relationships.
To do this successfully, CSMs at hotels, convention centers and convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) need to take personal ownership of their client's events and work diligently to fulfill their needs, all while making suggestions to them for improvement and efficiency. Building solid client relationships will ultimately help CSMs achieve customer satisfaction and customer loyalty to their venue or destination.
Why Develop Client Relationships?
"I believe developing and maintaining client relationships are the keys to successful business," said Felicia Davis, Convention Services Manager at the Atlantic City CVA. "It is our responsibility as service providers to build productive partnerships based on respect, knowledge and shared experiences."
Devon Sloan, CMP, Director of Events at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador agreed and added, "Developing client relationships is very important, critical even," she said. "We need to become a member of the client's team so we can better help each other, trust each other, support each other and brainstorm with each other. If we can develop that kind of relationship with clients, the event logistics and planning will go so much easier for both parties."
According to David Raymond, CMP, Senior Convention Services Manager at The Westin Charlotte, the success of a program could come down to the relationship CSMs have with their clients. "It does not always need to be 'buddy/buddy,' but a true understanding of your client's moods and 'hot buttons' is important," he said. "You will also know the best way to approach your client (i.e. head on or casually)."