Selling luxury travel has never been more complicated. There are so many options for the affluent traveler and they’re not all traditional five-star products. A 40-something client might be incredibly excited about a biking expedition through Peru and glamping through most of it. Other clients, a couple in their 50s, may have just booked a segment of a world cruise in the top suite on one of the best luxury ocean liners.
New travel products keep growing in number and they’re different from the past. Expedition ships are getting more posh. Independent hotels all over the world are appealing to the same travelers who have stayed at the top luxury brands for most of their lives. Tour operators are creating new exotic itineraries to the most remote places on earth that can accommodate only a handful of people because they know there’s an incredible demand for amazing adventures.
The classic luxury experiences are alive and well, such as the bespoke grand dame hotels in the capitals of Europe and the cruise lines that consistently win readers-choice awards. Then there are the iconic beach resorts that get booked solid for the festive season by mid-summer every year. These evergreen choices will definitely appeal to all luxury customers at some point in time, so it’s important to be up to speed on those as well.
Yeah, you’ve got a lot to be educated on if you’re just venturing into luxury, but what a lovely learning journey that will be.
For those who are just starting out as a luxury travel advisor, my top tip is to stick to the basics. Everything you were taught about qualifying the client and obtaining as much information about them as possible remains true. The dialogue with the affluent client has to be changed up a bit, however. Empower yourself to engage with these folks a bit more. Don’t be shy because they’re about to spend more on this trip than you owe on your college loans or your house. The wealthy tend to enjoy the process of purchasing big-ticket items so it’s likely they’ll be quite content to chat and tell you the details of their likes and dislikes as you explore the travel options that will appeal to them. Use this to your advantage; take copious notes and show these clients as often as possible that you’ve listened to what they’ve shared about themselves. That goes a long way in building a relationship.
Another top tip? In the luxury arena, you’re selling a finite world of goods. You’re selling a select number of suites at that certain famous hotel in Paris, or that one penthouse on the ship that’s sailing from Rome to Lisbon during the only week your clients can travel. Decisions must be made fairly quickly because the opportunity to secure these accommodations is fleeting.
Encouraging clients to make up their minds in an efficient manner is another art to be learned and that’s something to focus on in your early days of selling luxury travel. Just remember that going with your instincts in a most confident manner will definitely get you, and your customers, exactly where you all need to be.