Listen Carefully: Luxury Clients Tell You What They Want (And Don’t!) | TravelResearchOnline


Listen Carefully: Luxury Clients Tell You What They Want (And Don’t!)

A few weeks ago, a potential new client emailed me letting me know he was in the market for a new luxury travel advisor. He spelled out in this initial email what his frustrations were with his current situation, most notably that he was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in travel yet not quite feeling like he was receiving the level of service he had been promised.

Reading through his initial email, I knew that we were definitely going to be a great match. I didn’t know this simply because I specialize in luxury travel or because I am accustomed to dealing with discerning and demanding clients. Rather, it was just crystal clear to me exactly what this type of client is looking for and I know that I have the product knowledge coupled with the high level of contacts worldwide to ensure he and his family are extremely well looked after wherever we book them.

200153523-001One of the most important things I have learned in dealing with the high-spending luxury traveler is that they are less concerned about what things cost than they are about the value they are getting. This particular client told me he was upset that his current agent booked him into two tiny non-connecting rooms at a five-star hotel recently instead of suggesting options (at the same price point in the multiple thousands per night) that would have been much more comfortable—like a private residence (readily available in this particular destination).

I met up with this client in person recently, to get an even better sense of what he and his family need from their luxury travel advisor to feel comfortable they are working with the right person. I also wanted to make sure that my assistant (who I brought to the meeting with me) and I actually liked the client in person as there’s no sense in taking on new business if it’s not with people you will enjoy working with on a regular basis! (Another key to success: Work only with clients who appreciate what you do for them).

In discussing the list of points of what was most important to this potential big new client, it was clear there was a common theme. He wanted to feel as though his luxury travel advisor was his advocate, someone who understands the type of hassle-free experiences he and his family have come to expect (for example, as a taller guy, he doesn’t want to take a flight—ever—where he’s booked into an uncomfortable seat). He wants to know that his luxury travel advisor will be transparent about fees and compensation (which we always are with our high-end clients) and is willing to pay for services as mutually agreed upon (i.e., cancellation fees for trips that are extensively researched and planned, and then cancelled). He told me he doesn’t want to feel like the advisor’s recommendations are driven by where they might get an extra commission point or two (which I assured him ours are not) and that he’s spending a high enough amount on each trip that he definitely wants to be greeted by a hotel executive (and not checked in by a random front desk agent who knows nothing about him). Again, this reinforced my belief that this is a perfect client for me given I am obsessed with making sure the General Manager and his team are well-briefed on my clients’ preferences, trigger points, likes and dislikes well in advance of their stay.

To this particular client, a hand-selected room allocation is super important as he wants to feel as though I know exactly what he needs/wants and have translated this to the hotel. He recounted an experience at a five-star property where he was given the loudest, most poorly located room in the house and expressed his displeasure at the fact that no one at the executive level reached out to him once during his stay.

By the end of our two-hour lunch, I was even more confident that this client is a terrific match for my skill set and philosophy as a luxury travel advisor. I have always been focused on quality over quantity both in the clients I choose to work with, as well as the suppliers I trust to execute the perfect experiences for my clients. Hearing first hand from a high-spending new client about what he considers a successful client/advisor relationship was eye-opening as it created an open dialogue to be continued as we work together to create upcoming plans for his family. I highly recommend not being afraid to ask your top clients exactly what it is that is most important to them. Listen to what they have to say, and I am pretty sure you will guarantee yourself a new level of appreciation and loyalty—and hopefully even more referrals to their like-minded, high-end traveling friends!


Stacy Small is the president/founder of Elite Travel International, an LA-based Virtuoso travel firm. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @elitetravelgal.


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