Column: Back to Basics

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice President–Content/Editorial Director

“The Boss” section of the website is a compilation of profiles on how people came to head up their companies. A focused piece on Isadore Sharp of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts reveals his business philosophy. Success in hospitality, he says, comes down to offering the best possible service, which can only be achieved if the staff is happy. “If you treat people well, the way you would like to be treated, they will do the same,” says Sharp in the article.

A profile of Jacyn Heavens, who leads the technology company, Epos Now, provided even more granular advice on how to get ahead. Heavens’ first sales job was selling mobile phones to businesses. He was doing so poorly that his manager told him not to come back to the office until he’d made a sale. Heavens says he cried in his car and even called his mother for help. But then he realized the flaw in his sales strategy. He was randomly cold calling companies whose mobile phone contracts were not up for renewal, so, of course, they had no interest in buying from him. Heavens kept up with his calls but began asking those companies when their mobile phone contracts were due to be renewed. He compiled a long list of these leads and called back at the appropriate time, i.e., when it was useful for the company to hear from him. He became a star salesman and no doubt stopped crying in his car.

In this issue, we profile Eric Grayson, owner of Discover 7, a New York-based agency that’s set to earn more than $2 million in sales this year. Grayson, who is just 27, realizes that his clients lead very busy lives and can’t swing by to consult with him during 9-5 business hours. That means, phone or e-mail communication is de rigueur. But Grayson doesn’t leave it at that — he grabs breakfast or lunch with them monthly to discuss their travel desires face-to-face.

All three of the tactics I’ve cited are composed of pretty simple stuff: Treat your staff well so they’ll serve your clients well and you may end up heading an incredibly successful luxury travel company. Call potential clients when it’s useful for them to hear from you, rather than when it’s convenient for you to do so, and you may actually end up selling more than you ever imagined. And, even though you don’t have to meet with clients in person, thanks to technology, do it anyway. You might find yourself really knowing them and become one of the best darn travel consultants around, even at the age of 27.

If you’ve been hitting your head against the wall lately trying to figure out how to get ahead, you may be thinking too hard. Reexamine how you’re treating people; remember that being kind and patient always generates good karma. Consider when you’re reaching out to new clients whether you are thinking about your needs or theirs with the timing. And lastly, have you allowed technology to become a stand-in for your human touch? If so, you’ve become sort of a human OTA and I’m pretty sure that’s not what you had in mind when you started this career.