In their October meeting, 90 Dallas/Fort Worth BTA members and guests focused on networking and really getting to know their colleagues. The event was also their annual business meeting, where activities of the past year were recapped and participants talked about the outlook for 2012.

This was the first year to have assigned seating. A board member at each table acted as a table host to lead discussions and take notes on industry-related questions. Both Allieds and Directs raised questions and offered thoughts from their respective experiences. This was valuable information for everyone, since without knowing what the other side is thinking, it is like operating in a vacuum.

Among the questions Allieds asked of the Directs were, “How do you want to be sold to? What do you need from your suppliers as far as ongoing communication and relationship building goes?” Allieds were asked basic questions such as, “How much and how often do you want to hear from me? Do your clients know your goals for them?”

Both were asked “What are the biggest challenges facing you today in your job, as it pertains to the industry?” The overwhelming response was that this year’s RFP process is more challenging as buyers are feeling the pressure to save money and suppliers are feeling the pressure to increase rates.

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Both buyers and suppliers learned that networking is important to every member and they enjoyed stepping out of their comfort zones to meet new people. It’s human nature to look for a familiar face in a crowd and gravitate to that person. However, to expand the contact base and get to know others in the travel industry, everyone has to make an effort to reach out and make guests feel welcome.

Evie Hodges is DFWBTA public relations committee chair and director of sales for Hyatt Place Fort Worth/Hurst.