Many business people contend business networking is a more cost-effective method of generating new business than advertising or public relations efforts. This is because business networking is a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money.
Unfortunately, most people start with a networking group by looking for immediate gains - that is, for favorable results for themselves. If this is what you are trying to achieve, you are networking for the wrong reasons and will be sticking out like a sore thumb. It would be more beneficial to belong to a networking group of two people who can help each other often than a large group of people who are interested in only helping themselves. One must be willing to recognize that this is a long-term project. Each player must prove his or her worth. It should be as rewarding to help out a contact as it is to be helped by one.
The 10 Commandments of Networking:
- Thou shalt drop the “what‘s in it for me?” attitude.
- Thou shalt listen.
- Thou shalt build a relationship.
- Thou shalt give the first referral.
- Thou shalt not tell others of the referral you require; thou shalt “show them” with a story.
- Thou shalt be specific of the type of referral.
- Thou shalt reciprocate when appropriate.
- Thou shalt participate in the network executive, functions, and network time.
- Thou shalt thank the person who gave a referral.
- Thou shalt follow up on the referral within 24 hours.
Business networking is productive and fun, and that is why it will always be part of the Bigger Picture.
Benefits of Packaging
In the hospitality and tourism industry, packaging is the process of combining two or more related and complementary offerings into a single-price offering. Packaging is a popular technique used for attracting customers because packages make travel easier, more convenient and implies a value. It can create a variety of benefits of participating businesses:
Increased convenience. Trips can be time consuming and difficult to arrange. Several telephone calls and letters may be required to arrange for tickets, accommodations, reservations, and other components of a trip. A package allows a customer to arrange many components of a trip with one call or letter and one payment, saving the customer time and aggravation.
Greater economy. Businesses that package can frequently purchase tickets, meals, and other package components at wholesale prices. The business can add in the cost of packaging and still provide a competitive price to the customer. Thus, the cost to the customer is usually more economical than purchasing the package components individually.
Popular programs and activities. Visitors and travelers are often unfamiliar with many of the activities and attractions in an area; a package can help customers find them easily.
Specialized interests. Packaging provides a unique opportunity to design components of a package for specialized interests. These so-called “benefit bundles” can include a package component not readily available to individual customers. For example, a package weekend may feature a cooking demonstration by a well-known chef or a lecture by a well-known author.
Improved profitability. During peak or high-demand periods, use packaging to add value to an existing product. Purchasers may be required to stay a prescribed period or purchase a combination of goods and services. Packaging may also allow a business to price its product at a premium by adding special goods and services.
Joint marketing opportunities. Packaging can allow the business to reduce marketing costs or start a new program one could not normally afford by joining with one or more businesses to conduct a marketing or advertising program. This strategy can be especially effective if the businesses involved have similar customers.
Improved target marketing. Packaging can be an effective tool to tailor tourism and travel products for specific target markets. Examples can be ski, sports, or theater weekends. Good market research is needed so an appropriate mix of tourism and travel services will meet the needs and desires of a target group of customers.
Before developing a tourism packaging program, the businesses should ask themselves the following questions:
- Are you willing to do market research to determine who your customers are and what they want?
- What are the potential attractions, businesses, or marketing service firms that could provide a part of the package? Meet with the managers of these businesses and public attractions to discuss their interests and ideas.
- What are potential marketing and promotional networks that will help spread the word about your product? Convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, retail travel agents, clubs and organizations, state offices of tourism, and other attractions or travel businesses all have the potential to play an important role in merchandising your package.
- Does your business have the ability to manage and service the customers you generate through your packaging program?
- Are you prepared for a risk? Because you will be including customer service activities that are not under your direct control, you will be required to develop formal, written agreements between the cooperating businesses.
Putting together a successful package is not easy. However, by following the suggestions listed below, the chances of success will be greater.
Include attractions or demand generators. Every package needs one or more core attractions. These could be tickets to a special event, specialized programming, or reduced prices.
Provide value to the customer. Many travelers buy packages because they perceive they will receive greater value for the travel dollars they spend. For some, this translates into a package that costs less than the sum of the regular prices of individual elements. Almost everybody is interested in getting something for nothing or next to nothing.
Be well planned and coordinated. A successful package must be well planned and coordinated. Each element should flow naturally from one to the next. Use a theme to hold the package together and create a positive experience for the tourist.
Offer consistent quality and compatibility among elements. Many customers buy packages because they expect consistency in quality. Combine only package components that are compatible and enhance the overall quality of the traveler’s experience. Customer dissatisfaction with one part of the package will often spoil the entire experience.
Cover all the details. The temptation might be to throw a package together, but the close attention to detail makes some packages more successful than others. Remember, it is often the little things a business does for guests that matter the most. Some things to consider include a policy on refunds and cancellations and complete information on all package elements included in the price, as well as items not included.
Determine if the package is feasible by applying a breakeven analysis to help determine how many packages a business must sell before earning a profit.