Taking a commission as a conference broker is a great example of an opportunity for helping buyers to meet up with sellers. Insurance broking is the most well known example, where brokers sell insurance policies on behalf of the insurance companies, earning substantial commissions in the process. A conference broker is a service which could become equally as successful. You can earn tens of thousands a year from finding conference clients on behalf of hotels.
Business is easy to find and you need no cash to get started - just organizational and interpersonal skills. Find out all about this winning small business here.
Conferences Are Big Business
Large hotels make a great deal of money from hosting conferences. Firms will book a hotel's facilities to put on conferences, exhibitions, product launches, training seminars, dinner dances and other social events. This usually means booking accommodation, catering and technical equipment in addition to the actual conference room. Paying for these is not cheap, and the hotels do well out of it.
Most hotels, however, are lucky if they can get clients to use their conference facilities more than two days a week. Although this might be more than enough to justify the marketing expense - hosting conferences is highly lucrative remember - they end up with lots of spare capacity. Even the hotels that can afford to spend large amounts of money on marketing find that their resources are being spread thinly.
There's a way you can offer a solution to this problem. You can help small companies market their services much more cheaply and efficiently, reduce their levels of spare capacity, improve their profitability and earn yourself big money in the process. How? By acting as a central conference organizing agent on behalf of a number of hotels and conference venues in your area.
The idea is that you approach a number of hotels and offer to act as their conference broking agent. You find the client, book the venue and organize the conference on the client's behalf, and the hotels pay you for providing this service.
Increased Bookings And A Cheaper And Better Service
Why should hotels pay for a service they could provide themselves? Well, the hotels will benefit from increased bookings and reduced marketing costs. Imagine that in Anytown there are ten hotels paying, say, 5,000 a year each on marketing and promotion to find business clients to book their conference facilities - an annual total of 50,000. If they used your service, each one could contribute just 1,000 a year to the broking service's promotional budget, giving them a total of 10,000 a year to spend.
Instead of ten competing ads you need only place one, advertising a centralized conference organizing service for Anytown on behalf of all ten hotels. However, instead of having 5,000 to spend on advertising and promotion you now have 10,000. With this money you can achieve a far wider advertising coverage and attract many more clients. So each hotel need only spend 1,000 a year on conference promotion, compared with the 5,000 they previously spent, and they are likely to get more bookings as a result.
There are benefits to clients too. When they want to book conference facilities they can speak to someone (you - the conference broker) with knowledge of all the conference venues in the area who can discuss their requirements in detail - the number of guests, accommodation, food, technical requirements and budget - and then book everything for them.
You can save them the hassle of ringing round all the hotels themselves, you have in depth knowledge of the venues and so can find something to suit their requirements, and you can negotiate prices on their behalf.
Profits and Pay
Will a participating hotel lose potential bookings to other hotels using the service? No - because the conference agent books the hotels best suited to each client's needs and budget they are not prejudiced in any way, so the hotels don't lose out and the clients get a better service. However, there is scope for running the service as a co-operative and even sharing the profits between the hotels.
Although your clients will be companies, you will actually be paid by the hotels, most likely in the form of a commission payable on each booking. Alternatively, you could get hotels to club together to pay you a salary. Remember, if they have to employ one conference marketing person between them rather than one each, they will save money.
Setting up the Business
The way to set up a conference agency is to approach as many hotels as you can, explaining the features of the service, the advantages of using it, and the benefits it offers. Stress that you can help them get more bookings and reduce their marketing costs.
At the same time, do some market research on the demand for booking conferences. Send questionnaires to local companies asking whether they are likely to have any need to book conferences, and if so where, for how long, and for how many delegates. If you can prove to hotels that there is a demand they are more likely to use your conference broking service.
Finding Clients And Making Bookings
Pretty soon you should be able to start finding clients for the hotels that agree to use your service. Send information on your service directly to firms which may need to book conferences - especially large firms, and professional firms such as accountants and solicitors. Follow letters up with a phone call, with the purpose of setting up a personal visit. It is also worth advertising in the trade press, and in local newspapers and magazines.
Keep hotel brochures to show to clients and keep a database of all important information (the number of guests each hotel can accommodate, the size of its conference room, whether it provides audio-visual equipment, whether it offers catering and so on, plus prices).
Once you get an interested client, ascertain all their needs. You can make the booking for them, and confirm this in writing with both the hotel and the client. The client then pays the hotel for providing the facilities and (assuming you are not salaried) the hotel pays you commission for taking the booking.
Huge Commissions, Huge Scope for Expansion
If you are able to sell yourself you can make this service a huge success. There should be no trouble finding participating hotels, since you're offering them the chance to make more money at no risk to themselves. The clients get an improved service, and you get a whacking great commission. So everybody wins!
This service offers massive scope for expansion, since you needn't be restricted to one area. You could also attempt to attract individuals looking to book holidays and weekend breaks, therefore boosting your income potential.
Look around now for participating hotels and potential clients and start turning this lucrative business to your advantage.