|Pimentel offers some plain talk about selling upmarket to clients.|
Helpful business tips from top suppliers and travel agents are among the things that Vacation.com’s 13th International Conference & Trade Show will be remembered for. Here, Travel Agent focuses on CEO of Azamara Club Cruises Larry Pimentel’s insights.
Pimentel kicked off the conference’s first breakfast general session by showing agents that they have the power to always sell upmarket. “This is the era of affluence and enrichment,” he told the audience of over 1,300 agents—who he referred to as “value interpreters”—and suppliers. “Your client will never remember the price of their vacation. They will remember the experience,” Pimentel said.
He pointed out that “the notion of luxury has evolved and “one size only fits one.” In today’s market, he added, it is important for travel agents to brand themselves to show that they know quality equals value. “We are living in a new reality with a new type of consumer—price no longer determines quality,” he said.
Pimentel listed out a few things that the travel agent ought to keep in mind about today’s affluent consumer when it comes to selling upmarket. First, today’s high-end consumer is independent. Second, affluence does not necessarily mean wealth: Affluence is a mindset, whereas hard cash equals wealth, and a wealthy consumer does not necessarily mean an affluent one. Third, the affluent traveler looks for a way of life when on vacation and finally, when a travel agent comes into contact with an affluent traveler who is also wealthy, they are presented with the perfect opportunity to sell travel experiences based on good value.
Pimentel unveiled his Affluent Traveler’s Bill of Rights as a way to help travel agents sell valuable experiences to their clients. According to Pimentel, each traveler is endowed with a certain set of inalienable rights:
1. The Right to Travel
2. The Right to Wellness and Well-Being
3. The Right to Unique Experiences
4. The Right to Unstructured Personal Experiences
5. The Right to Be Casual
6. The Right to Exemplary Service
7. The Right to Exemplary Cuisine
8. The Right to Quality and Value
In order to sell upmarket to clients, Pimentel said, agents must learn from certain lessons that have been taught in previous markets: First, a hyped-out experience leads to a tuned-out client, so don’t oversell a product. Second, use plain talk and do not mislead the client or misinterpret their intelligence. Third, always tell the truth—speak the language of your client and understand who he or she is and what types of experiences would appeal to them. Finally, never talk down to your client.
Since Pimentel’s specialty is affluent cruising, he shared with the group some of his observations on where the luxury cruise industry is going. According to him, concept large ships are the way of the future; small cruise ships of 200 passengers or less have become a thing of the past; and the cruise destinations are becoming just as important as the onboard experience.