It's a tough job trying to gain the confidence and knowledge
necessary to sell New York City to the millions of corporate
travelers who conduct business here. Following are some useful tips
from those who do it often.
Anne-Marie Grady, manager of Travel Express in Ocean City, N.J.,
says the key to her success is the fact that she lived in the city
herself for years. "You have to understand it to sell it," she
Since she considers New York the "bottom-line area for the
business world," one of the most important factors for an agent is
keeping apprised of the changes at the hotels and maintaining
"In a town that has tens of thousands of rooms, it is amazing
that sometimes you have trouble getting one." Knowing the
reservations and sales managers is one step toward making sure your
clients are happy, she says.
Her clients' comments also are of particular importance in this
ever-changing market. Grady says this feedback, as well as keeping
up-to-date with the trade papers and getting into the city herself
when she can, keeps her well-informed.
Grady also points out that one of her most valuable resource
tools for selling New York is really no secret at all: the
Internet. She adds that she doesn't think agents are making the
most of this incredible source, which can prove invaluable in a
city of this size, where agents can't possibly see everything in
Timothy Beach, president of Scarborough Travel Services in
Briarcliff, N.Y., agrees that the Internet is invaluable.
Beach also concurrs that, especially in a city like New York,
knowledge is important. "You must know the hotels and their
locations, as well as where your clients intend to do their
business once they arrive," he says. "Location is the key for
corporate clients here, so you have to ask if they are doing
business uptown, midtown or downtown."
Beach has his own strategy for keeping abreast of the latest
hotel news. Scoffing at the traditional site inspections and
scheduled tours held on-site, he says he prefers to get right to
the point and "just show up" at the properties he wants to see. "I
don't have the time for regular site inspections," he says. "I can
cover 10 times more on my own." His trick: He plans his itinerary
for the day, starting downtown, and making his way uptown.
Sara Martin, group coordinator at Martinsville Travel in
Martinsville, Va., has three recommendations for selling New York:
be familiar with New York as a destination, have a good
relationship with a receptive operator in the city and keep abreast
of the changes in areas such as hotels and Broadway shows. "Read
New Yorker magazine, the New York Times supplements and keep
up-to-date," she says. "If not, it can be daunting."
Because Martin deals so often with groups, she says one of her
biggest selling tools is the fact that she sends an escort along
with the group to make sure things go smoothly, she says. "If there
are problems while they are there, then we deal with it."
The New York Convention & Visitors Bureau: 810 Seventh Ave.,
3rd floor, New York 10019.
Phone: (800) 693-7293 for agents; (800) 693-7290 for meeting
planners; (800) 693-7292 for operators; fax (212) 246-6310 or (212)
484-1280 for meetings and conventions; Web site: