Since coming back to work for a full service agency I’ve realized something I nearly forgot–there are thousands of hotels and resorts out there to choose from. Selling cruises was different in that there are only so many ships—maybe a hundred? And they are all pretty similar except for the luxury lines; of which there are only a few making it easy to become familiar with their services, inclusions, and standard business practices. And new ships only come out every couple years giving agents time to learn about them before they even hit the water.
I absolutely need to know which property is going to fit my client best. No one can possibly know everything about every resort, so what to do? Hotels and resorts are similar to ships in that the four and five star properties are less in number than three stars and under; however, compared to ships, there are still thousands of four and five star properties that my agency sells.
We sell a lot of Virtuoso properties, but sometimes those properties are not available or may be beyond the client’s price point. Hawaii and Mexico are the two biggest sellers for our office. I am very confident in my knowledge of the Mexican resorts having visited and toured many of them myself. But I have never been to Hawaii and I need to change that soon!
Let’s take Hawaii for example. I’m quickly learning which hotels are on the “must sell” list and those on the “never sell” list. But, there is that gray area where I find five or six properties that seem to be comparable. Is one really better than the other? They all have gorgeous beach fronts, stunning views, similar amenities, and the price is about the same.
Here is where having an agent who has visited those resorts can help narrow down the choice. She’ll point out that this property doesn’t have free parking, or that one has really small bathrooms, etc. I am so thankful for the agents in my office who have been to almost every property on every island. How do you choose resorts for your clients? Do you stick with your consortium only? Do you only book properties you have personally visited? Do you book the hotel the client insists they want; even though you are sure their experience will probably be less than great?
Vacations are an important investment in our lives. The client may not get back to paradise again. I want to make sure the trip he booked with me is the most memorable and enjoyable time he has ever had. The question I ask myself is this: will my client be happy with the comfortable and affordable property his friends told him about, or will he be ecstatic and forever thankful he trusted me and booked the more desirable, beautiful and interesting hotel across the island I suggested? Knowing the difference is the secret to repeat bookings with that client and his word of mouth referrals he sends to me. I want clients for life. And I hope they feel the same after working with me!
Julie Summers is a travel adviser for Global Travel in Boise, Idaho (www.myglobal.com). She has two teen boys and a spoiled Boston Terrier. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.