Our local paper, the Boston Globe, recently published a front page article about the Indian wedding business in Boston area hotels. It’s a story made for the newspaper, with photos of exquisitely dressed brides and wedding party members, and mentions of exotic (at least, to Bostonians) elements of Indian weddings: walking around a fire, elephants for the groom’s procession, guest lists in the several hundreds, etc.
What’s interesting to me is that the story mentioned a number of what I consider to be best practices in selling globally, to different international markets:
- Clear recognition of the economic value of the market. In this case, a niche market got a boost from the recession and hotels that might otherwise have ignored the opportunity decided it was worthwhile pursuing.
- Industry marketing, as well as individual business marketing. A newspaper serving the local Indian community ran two advertising supplements with heavy participation by Boston area hotels, helping to establish that weddings here (vs. in India) were appropriate.
- Employees who act as human bridges between countries and cultures (e.g., one hotel’s executive chef from Delhi), enabling a business in one culture to offer products/services to a market segment in another culture.
- Collaboration among sales and delivery teams, to share knowledge about customer needs in a segment they may not know well, and ensure that services meet their expectations. In this case, hotel operations needed to allow outside caterers and support the logistics of rituals with which they were not personally familiar.
- Training, training and more training. One hotel even developed a webinar to educate their staff about the requirements for hosting Indian weddings, including details such as “ceremonial customs, cuisine, even popular brands of alcohol.”
These are all success factors in selling into a new international market, showing up here selling into a local market, with similar cross-culture challenges. I welcome your thoughts about other success factors – either as comments here or direct emails to me. Thanks!