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Market development in corona times - is that possible?

As I’m busy altering and correcting contact data such as e-mail addresses, I keep thinking that I wouldn’t normally be sitting at home but in fact would be out and about in one of my markets.

Dieter Dubkowitsch, Market manager Germany and Austria, 07. août 2020

Because it’s my job to sell Rhaetian Railway products in the markets Germany and Austria. This means that I am responsible for developing these markets and normally I do my work directly on site. Market development is all about being close to customers and always being in touch with them. We discuss products together and then we help out when it comes to reservations. I also give training courses, even at the smallest of locations, and attend trade fairs. Our marketing development team at Rhaetian Railway consists of myself and my four colleagues. Together, we serve the twenty or so most important markets for RhB all over the world.

Actually our job certainly gives the impression that we permanently live a “dolce vita”. We are always travelling, staying in the best hotels and are constantly out for lunch and dinner with clients. We have a wonderful life in the hippest event locations and all we do is chat all day long. 

Well, to be honest, that is true – but only partially. It is important for us to get close to our customers and find out exactly what they are looking for and where problems may lie. That is why we always keep these tour operators and media up to date. And the best way of doing that is on site. So we spend several months a year abroad in our markets. When we are on the move, we don't have a day that starts at spot on 8 am or that finishes at 4 pm on the dot. A “dolce vita” can actually be pretty strenuous and tiring. However, because we all get so much pleasure out of communicating with other people, we all love our job with all its advantages and disadvantages. 

In the current corona situation, our job is very different. I’ve already mentioned what I’m busy doing with e-mail addresses. Because we also have to work at home. Since no direct customer contacts are possible, we are dealing with Excel sheets, Word files and other such “exciting” but nevertheless necessary office work. 

But I must say, I see a ray of hope on the horizon. I’m not talking about the end to all the corona measures but the newly achieved digitalisation at RhB. To keep in touch with our foreign customers, I use tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. So I often spend my working days with long telephone calls or video conferences and pass on news to our customers this way. I also regularly send out newsletters and organise webinars (online seminars for customers). In this way I can make up at least in part for my lacking presence on site in the markets. And I must say I find that the customers appreciate this small piece of normality enormously.      

As you can no doubt read between the lines, the exciting work of a market manager is not the office work that goes with the job, but the direct communication and contact with customers. 

But, to put everything in a nutshell, market development in corona times is definitely feasible and is illustrating many new and important ways forward. Nevertheless, we will all be very happy when normality returns and we can once again share time together with our customers on site.

(But now I suppose I’d better get back to my mail addresses because they are not going to take care of themselves.)

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