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Creating stronger supplier relationships

A few months ago, I was in conversation with our Account Manager for a well-known hotel chain and he mentioned that sometimes he didn’t feel that his hotel representatives were getting in front of the right people when coming to see us. I know he meant this in the kindest possible way and my response was that at times, the feeling was mutual!

So, how can we make the most of supplier visits on both sides of the relationship? As an agency, do we really want to know the thread count on the Egyptian cotton sheets? Conversely, does the visiting supplier want to present to the Project Assistant who was told that they had to be there because everyone else was too busy to join the meeting?

We agreed that more needed to be done before the meeting takes place – simple but effective steps such as setting an agenda of what the supplier wants to discuss to allow us to prepare and ensure that the right people are in attendance.

Personally, I am most interested in the overall relationship with the supplier, how they can match our clients’ Strategic Meetings Management programmes, and how we can work better together on an account level. If the Account Manager is among the hotel representatives coming to see us, maybe there is a case for having a separate discussion to review the relationship, killing two birds with one stone.

We recently underwent some external compliance training that included a visit from a well-known hotel which was the subject of compliance case studies.  The dual-purpose approach meant that our team got to know the venue in an in-depth, interactive way and we were trained in healthcare compliance as well.

This is not going to be practical every time a supplier visits and healthcare compliance is not a consideration for all clients. However, it does show that a supplier visit can be better targeted to enable both parties to get more out of the meeting with a bit of advance conversation and a common purpose.  

Oh by the way – the thread count was 400. Apparently that’s rather good!