Or who takes the occasional sneaky glance at booking.com to check where and at what price rooms are still available and, what's more, presented in a clear, easy-to-use layout?If my colleagues are to be believed, I am the only customer of booking.com working in the meetings industry. So, Amsterdam friends of booking.com, who might be reading this, I am the one… All donations will be gratefully received.

It's totally ‘not done’ in our industry to recognise the value of booking.com, because they will completely destroy our market, so it is said. They force our margins down, so it is claimed. They have too much power, we shout, shaking our fists! They're incredibly successful, you hear whispered in corners, and mutterings of it's impossible to leave them out of the equation, and they bring in an awful lot of business, so it is thought. I won't start on the rest, to say nothing of the potential of Airbnb.

Our meetings industry is like a rabbit stuck in the headlights of change, drooling at the shrinking commissions of hotels, flights and every conceivable related logistics operation. And, what's more, if we don't watch out, they will gobble us up, with prunes and brandy, braised to perfection (hmm, delicious it is too, my grandmother made the best rabbit and prune stew I know).

I don't see any solution in a ‘chasse patate*’ (*cycling term, cyclist who has broken away from the main group during a pursuit, but keeps on pedalling despite having no prospect of gaining on the leaders).Fighting against developments that we can't hold back.

I see mainly opportunities and openings to market our added value as an industry both now and in the future. Yes, we have know-how that goes way beyond booking hotels and, yes, we can advise our customers on how they can grow their meeting or conference and, yes, we can provide a service that cannot be measured solely in commissions. And, yes, we do much more than you might think from the size of our fee.

SEAUTON has been applying this principle for some time now, employing an approach that has its frustrations, but regularly brings the desired result. We no longer count (entirely) on commissions, but invoice for our know-how in project days, whether for purely logistics-related projects, for the development of new concepts, identifying innovative applications or strategic support.
We are completely above board about this with our clients and usually find there is plenty of goodwill among customers to enter into discussion on this. We challenge our own ability to change and feel confident about the added value we offer. As always, there's plenty of falling down and picking yourself up again.

But, depending on commissions that may completely disappear within a couple of years or wrestling with new software systems that will completely defeat us, no way. That's not my style.

Until next month. Jan

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