So, during all my young adult years, I pictured myself in some sort of “important” career – a COO, maybe a consultant, who knows. But here I am–bottom line: I am in retail. Yes, I am in retail. We all are. The difference is that our customers don’t leave the shop with a bag of goodies. We sell, but we sell dreams and in some cases, aspirations. I do know that if I am going to be in retail, I prefer to sell Bentley or Hermes but this clientele seems a little bit elusive.
This week, I have brought up the topic of budget with two different clients who actually said replied with something like, “don’t worry about my checkbook, just tell me how much what I want is going to cost and assure me that it is fair.” Really. Obviously they are “luxury” clients. This is not the upper middle class who come in and write a $12,000 or even $20,000 check for a cruise. These people are the “1%”. I just didn’t know it.
How do you figure out who a client is? These people come in by phone or email and sometimes they show up at the front door. They’re not dressed differently than most anyone else on the street. They don’t sound different on the phone (although one’s voice really reminds me of Lovey Howell on “Gilligan’s Island”). Well, here’s a clue – if someone is asking about private jet charter, they’re not necessarily budget-conscious. I know that! Yet I still sounded apologetic on the phone when discussing the cost. This is what prompted the “don’t worry” comment. Of course I apologized, and I agreed with caller that it wasn’t my job to worry about his costs. I did tell him that we are in the “getting to know you” phase of our relationship and that I now have one more pieces of data about him to work with. Oddly, he seemed pleased by that.
How do you figure it out? How do you know whether a client is a two week Azamara in a suite client or a round the world Crystal client? How do you know when it’s a nice room at the Bernini Bristol or a suite at the de Russie? What clues do you use?
Mindy Milliron has been a professional travel consultant since 1996 working in suburban Washington, DC. She specializes in personalized vacations and exotic adventures. Mindy has earned her CTA, and is certified as a specialist luxury travel and destination weddings. She has been employed by three agencies and her current agency is in the process of shifting affiliations from American Express to Travel Leaders.