|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director Ruthanne Terrero|
With the new year upon us, we’re bringing back some popular how-to tips to help you sell better and enhance your clients’ experience.
We were in Rome having dinner outside at a sidewalk café. It was midsummer, hot and sultry. We’d had a wonderful pasta dinner, naturally, and were just finishing when my eyes locked on a diner’s plate across the way.
“That woman has watermelon,” I said to my husband. “And it’s probably really good because I think it’s in season.” Truth was, I had seen some men selling watermelons on the side of the highway en route from the airport. They were slicing them open with big knives, and the red and green fruit was just mesmerizing — at least to me, a long-time watermelon aficionado.
My husband caught our waiter’s eye, pointed to the woman and then nodded at my plate. Voilà! I had my own serving of watermelon within seconds.
These two minutes in time are a cherished memory. The dining was divine, but to be in Rome in summer when the night was velvet, in the company of men able to communicate silently to execute such a noble deed, was bliss. This was travel, the type of adventure I’d thought of when I was younger and dreaming of experiencing simple things in foreign places.
This all happened 10 years ago. Cell phones were around, but not as embedded into our lives as they are today. If I were traveling through Rome now, there’s a strong chance I’d miss seeing the roadside watermelon vendors, because I’d be checking my e-mail trying to kill time on the ride from the airport. The image that triggered a lovely travel experience would have been missed all together.
I was recently at a Caribbean resort with a great lawn that faced the sea. A woman was sitting with a beautifully dressed little girl, who was so delighted with the vast green space in front of her that she picked up the edges of her very full dress and started dancing her way across the grass. It was a beautiful moment. Priceless, really. But her mother was staring down at her phone, most likely posting images of her dinner on Instagram.
This is simply the way we are now, often not present or in the moment. Dare I say, this provides an opportunity for those travel advisors who are experts at prompting their clients to look for lovely things when they’re traveling?
For example, if you’re crafting a custom itinerary, you can include travel tips such as, “When walking from the hotel to the restaurant, be sure to peek down such and such lane where you’ll see craftsmen setting up their wares for the evening.” Or, “Be sure to head to the hotel’s rooftop bar at sunset and watch the bartender make a pineapple mojito — he’s a master at his craft.” Or, “When in Maui, make it a point to look out at the ocean after it rains in the afternoon; there’s often a double rainbow on the horizon.”
You can be the eyes for your clients more than ever, choreographing their small joys by clueing them in to local experiences. And if you think this effort to provide such expertise doesn’t matter that much, imagine the smile on that mother’s face had she looked up from her phone to see her daughter dancing toward the water in the dress her grandmother had made her for this trip. Now, that’s an Instagrammable moment.