How to Build Meaningful Relationships with Your Business Development Managers (Part 1)

business development manager independent travel agent partnership relationship building tour operators travel agent Mar 07, 2019


I want to start this post by thanking ALL of the amazing Travel Agents that joined the Successful TAs Tribe (Our Free Facebook Group for Legit and mad COOL TAs) recently. I enjoy building my community and our profession so very much, but it would not be possible without your participation and the huge level of engagement. Thank you for helping me make STAT the "go-to" community for real Travel Entrepreneurs that are not afraid to have fun, laugh and challenge the status quo while keeping it professional and enriching for everyone. You are the real MVPs.

Yesterday, I posted a picture inside of the group with my AIC Hotels BDM. The purpose was both to brag about the top-notch support I receive from Dan but also to encourage the members to find 2-3 Business Development Managers and build a strong relationship with. This post sparked many praises for some BDMs as well as questions from those trying to get in the field and connect with these industry players. One agent said: "I just don't know where to start". 

Before we read their responses I thought I would explain what a BDM is, according to my friend Google:

"Business Development Managers are responsible for developing the business side of an organization. They must identify rising business opportunities and build long-term relationships with prospects. That is needed in order to increase company revenue and maximize profits."

Please keep the word "profit" in mind as we dive into their responses, ok? Deal...

Pictured: Dan Jimenez, AIC Hotel Group BDM in Florida during a "cold"  Florida winter outdoor meeting. (My idea, sorry Dan!)

Well, over the years I've been lucky to meet many of the amazing partners I work with so in an effort to help my fellow agents understand where to start and what to say I reached out to a few of these fabulous people on my friends' list and here are some of their responses:

1. “Show an interest in marketing, don’t ask for fams or co-op without showing some effort first, ask for training and sales materials, ask us how we’re doing occasionally because we’re people too!” ~Daniel Jimenez, AIC Hotel Group

2. "Set aside time to really talk about where you are now and where you are looking to bring your business. Have a plan. The BDM can then get a better idea of what tools they have to help you grow your business with them. Really, just getting a good connection and keeping the line of communication open. If they have worked with you and there’s any pain points your BDM needs to know. Let us know you are serious about building your travel business. Especially with host agencies, BDMs have literally thousands of agents. Knowing who is serious and where we should spend our time is priceless!" ~Jennifer Greenfield, Apple Leisure Group

3. "I think it’s huge to understand how each BDM needs/wants to communicate. I need communication regarding reservations/requests/issues to be in Email. Some BDM’s prefer a phone call (I’m out of office so much it’s tough to connect that way) but almost all BDM’s I’ve tt, agree that social media is not the place for specific issues/requests. Hope that helps! P.S. I do love when agents invite Me to events or ask for training. That shows they are genuinely interested in learning more about our brand." ~Vonda Keeler, Blue Diamond Resorts for the United States

4. "Have your business goals in mind when you reach out to introduce yourself, what’s your elevator pitch? In 30 seconds, can you articulate how this partnership can be mutually beneficial? Doesn’t mean you only have 30 seconds, but if I’m asked about Fams (ie free stay) in the instant I meet an agent, what is the long-term growth goals of this agent? Is this partnership something that’s worth it for them AND me?" Scott Radesi, Playa Resorts

Pictured: Lynne Chomicz and I in Fiji during a Classic Vacations Luxury Fam in the Fall. 

5. Lynne Said: " Relationships are a two-way street, so the most successful are when both sides can achieve their goals, and it’s not exclusive to sales numbers.  When starting out, I suggest discussing goals together, so both sides can work on helping the other meet and exceed expectations.  Goals should be measurable, so for example, if an advisor’s goal is to learn about Hawaii, the BDM will be able to share detailed resources for specific online training, certifications, destination incentives or fam opportunities.  If the BDMs goal is to find new agency clients, the travel advisor can help by evangelizing the brand to colleagues or making a direct introduction. "

HeyWill here again, if you are lucky enough, traveling with fun and cool BDMs is pretty rewarding and beneficial to your business as you get to know the HUMAN side of them; but if you are starting out please note that some trips are exclusive and you have to earn them, hence why so many of the BDMs would quickly discount you if your sole intent is to go on a free FAM- there, I said it. 

Alright, I've gotten so many awesome responses that I will split this into a two parts series so stay tuned for next week's round of responses from these superhumans.

In closing, I will share this piece of advice with you: Be Kind! This should be natural human behavior but I want to remind you to be kind with these folks who are always on the road and truly have our best interest at heart. You don't have to be their "BFF" to have a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship so remember that for every genuine Travel Agent asking them for info and their time, there are 97 agents asking for FREE stuff and FAMs before they ever throw a piece of business their way (We could write a book on this one but that's a whole different animal). Don't be one of those agents and you are off to a good start. 

To my BDMs out there, we see you and appreciate your hard work. 


Will Medina.