Relationship Building 101

Relationships are a fundamental component to client retention. Destination professionals offer tips on building the kind of rapport that keeps meeting planners coming back.

“I believe learning as much as you can about an organization is critical. Meeting professionals and organizations appreciate us doing our research. Building rapport is not an overnight process but finding areas of common interests can help the process along initially.” — Donna Allen, vice president of sales and marketing, VisitNorfolk

“Find ways to connect with meeting planners and groups outside of traditional meeting settings. Figure out what they’re most interested in and then set up a lunch or invite them to a relevant event. The shared connections and experiences will create a more trusting, comfortable bond between you and the planner. If you can’t find a time to connect in person, get creative and let planners know how important they are to you. One time, we had pizza delivered to a planner’s entire office for lunch with a note saying that we ‘Would love a piece of your pie.’” — April Ellerbe, director of sales and services, Durham CVB

“Pal up at trade shows. I give love and gratitude stones. Planners appreciate the small things like being thanked for their business or that happy-hour time we spend getting to know them. Build a conversation at the breakfast table that involves the entire table. Bring up a topic of interest and share opinions.” — Debi DeBenedetto, group sales and marketing manager, Naples, Marco Island & Everglades CVB

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