While it is a little past the best time to launch your follow-up with those operators who stopped by your booth at IPW in New Orleans, we nonetheless thought we should provide our tip sheet while there is still time to follow through on the process. Here is a quick list of do’s.
Wait until two weeks after the conclusion of IPW. Although many suppliers believe it is best to follow up immediately upon their return to the office, often the tour operator does not return right away. They might have taken a post-IPW tour and might take a day or two after returning home to recuperate.
Also, it is probable that your follow-up might get lost in the crush of the 43 other follow-ups the operator is receiving from the other appointments he or she had at supplier booths during IPW’s three days of meetings.
Divide your follow-ups into “existing clients” and “newbies.” The first should comprise friends—those operators with whom you have a relationship. The second should be those who are relatively new to IPW or with whom you made face-to-face contact for the first time.
For Existing Clients:
—Contact your best five appointments personally, by e-mail and conference call to summarize what they needed. If unable to reach the operator then, along with the others on your first list, send a personalized e-mail that summarizes what you discussed at IPW.
—Include a list of the four or five receptive tour operators that carry your destination or product in their packages and itineraries.
—If you are part of the TourOperatorland.com, include a link to your portal page as you will receive an immediate e-mail if they open your link and you can track what they downloaded. (Remind the operators that they can access an inventory of more than 2,000 royalty-free photos by including a link to the photo page.) Blind copy the receptive operators on this e-mail to show them you are supporting them as well.
For New Clients:
—Send a personalized e-mail along with a one-page PDF document that covers the points you made, and answers any questions they asked, during your IPW meeting. Also, in the e-mail, include a list of the four or five receptive tour operators who include your destination or product in their packages and itineraries.
—If you are part of the TourOperatorland.com, include a link to your portal page as you will receive immediate e-mail if they open your link and you can track what they downloaded. (Remind the operators that they can access an inventory of more than 2,000 royalty-free photos by including a link to the photo page.) Blind copy the receptive operators on this e-mail to show them you are supporting them as well.
Two weeks after they begin the brochure process (around July 15 in many cases): Send them sample itineraries that you have prepared or, if you’re a TouroperatorLand.com client, send a link directly to your itinerary so you can track interest directly.
Three weeks prior to the closing date for brochure preparation (usually mid-September): Make sure to send another follow-up message to all operators—especially to those who’ve expressed any interest in your destination or product—with a brief, personalized message that includes links to high res photos. (For TourOperatorLand clients, send them a direct link to your royalty-free photo page so you’ll be able to track which images they will be including in their marketing collateral.)
These points are just an outline. In some cases, you may find it feasible to make in-person calls as part of a follow up. For instance, if you’ve received a high degree of interest or made an informal agreement with three or four Brazilian operators, you might want to consider a visit to São Paulo, where all the major operators in the country have offices. Or, if you’ve had good feedback during meetings with UK operators, you should make it a point to attend the World Travel Market Nov. 7-9 in London and schedule appointments there.