Not many business owners will acknowledge that trend reports can induce a certain level of fear in us, well…at least for me who owns an SME. Whether trend reports are truly reliable and practical in the region I operate in (as they tend to be American or European centric), they mean more changes we business owners have to cope with when we do not even have time to cope with ourselves.
What got me thinking further after hearing the “death of DMCs” prediction made at the 2017 Singapore MICE Forum’s Vision 2050 session is what price do I have to pay to remain valid in our industry. Will artificial intelligence and new technologies enhance or replace my business?
Instead of worrying about business development and being overly focused on our day-to-day operations, I decided to invest in a couple of things: spending more time with loyal supporters (customers and industry friends) who would tell me the truth and for the first time in five years, and taking holidays that would give me quality soul-searching time.
My supporters gave me numerous examples about the frustrations they continuously face. Like the lack of trust in technology (cyber security) and the confusion caused by too much over-promising marketing and product information. Of course, as a company owner, I would ensure that our marketing messages present the best brand image at all times. However, I also understand that customers need honesty before they trust us.
I tucked those comments at the back of mind and ventured on my first holiday to Bhutan where I spent many hours thinking. Like many, I was inspired by the destination and its people. Bhutan’s beautiful landscapes brought me a sense of peace and the hospitality made me feel that it is okay to invest in myself.
After the Bhutan trip, I no longer have that fear of missing out on business opportunities if I were to switch off mentally and technologically and take a holiday. In fact, I came back refreshed and invested more money in customer service. As much as our industry should embrace technological advancement, our focus must remain on servicing customers. Sure, they now have access to lots of information online and can manage more events on their own. Our customers still need us for some other events, especially the important ones, the ones they can’t afford to fail.
As customer service providers, we must work with our partners and provide effective service to remain valid. We must also allow ourselves to reinvent so we can provide fresh solutions. Most importantly, we must express to our enquirers that we are also here to make money and that our business cannot survive purely on commissions. They have to pay us for our professional services and time.
We combined the customer feedback, our professional capabilities in delivering event experiences and humble honesty and successful created a new solution that got traction even before we marketed the company. Starting Journey To Asia, a boutique experience by Events Travel Asia Group, with my long-serving colleague Jeff Fongmool allowed us to have a division in our business catered to groups with less than 70 participants. We listened to our customers and we responded. The fact that we responded, the price we paid to remain valid was worth it.