By Ian Couldridge, Former Allied President
ver the last nine years of being an Allied Member of NOTO, I have discovered many things about tourism and the business people that work within it, that as a business person never entered into my mind before. The beauty of our landscape, the value of our resources, and the vast amounts of knowledge and expertise that the operators have in their minds is unimaginable. All of this is ours for the asking. All YOU have to do is ask.
As Allieds there are certain things we need to do if we wish to assist the operators and to do business with them. An Allied membership is more than your listing in the Allied Directory of the Outfitter, and it is not a guarantee of business from the regular members. To be an Allied takes time, effort, and a desire to be different than your competitors. Competition is healthy, but it is also useless if you don't tell anyone about it and offer it to your clients. Just as the operators compete each year in the marketplace for new clients, as well as for client retention, so too must we Allieds.
We are all professionals in our own fields, and all of us are in business to get stronger and make a profit, but it is what you can bring to the table that will determine what and how much you can gain.
Presence, willingness to help, and the ability to change, and the desire to contribute to the causes that NOTO is currently dealing with are some of the things that you need to do. As Allied President this year, I have seen first hand how hard NOTO works, and in kind I have resolved myself to work as hard in an effort to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Over the last nine months I have asked many operators what an Allied is to them, as well as Allieds' impressions of what they mean to NOTO.
Most of these answers showed nothing new except to reinforce the same issues you've heard time and time again. In almost all cases the regular members will try to buy from the allieds first, but service, price and quality are still the main concerns. Every business is sales driven, and in every type of sales you must strive to be better or different than the next company.
Examine why you are a NOTO Allied Member, and what makes you different, and what you can do to help and get out there and see the operators. Remember, being an Allied is not a Guarantee of work, but is a right to say to potential and present clients that you care about them and are willing to help. If we all work together, we can show the Regular Members that they have no reason to shop anywhere except with the Allieds, and that we are part of their business solutions, and that being an Allied is something to be proud of.
Remember convention is coming and I hope to see all the Allieds there. As Allieds many of us look forward to this event as much if not more than the Regular Members. It is the one chance that many of us have to see all the operators in one location, and in many cases the only chance we have to see each other all year.
For the operators, convention is either the end of their season, or a break before the show circuit, or before the sledders hit the trail. It is also the place to come and learn, network, and shop for next season. Allied Day is our day and the operators are here to see what we have to offer them for next year. Don't disappoint them. This is your opportunity to show your wares, strut your stuff and get to see the people in a relaxed friendly environment.
The key to remember is that convention is four days long. It is in your best interest to ensure that you are there all the time, and that your booth is manned for the duration, that you are able to and available to speak to the operators at any time. This is a key event for us and should not be missed. Be prepared, be prompt, and be ready to reap the rewards of being an Allied Member!
This article was taken from pages 19-21 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Sept/Oct 1998 Issue