|Preferred Showcase: I am shown above at Secrets Maroma Beach in Riviera Cancun, Mexico, which just hosted the Preferred Hotel Group’s annual conference. There, President Lindsey Ueberroth shared several initiatives, including how the group is now positioning itself in Brazil, Russia and China in preparation of predicted growth.|
Do you know those letters you get from the airlines you flew maybe once, saying you have points that you need to use or they’ll go away, but if you don’t want to use them to fly you can put them toward buying a whole bunch of magazines? We seem to get these notices frequently, and despite my best efforts to keep my house free of things that I will never want to throw away (who can toss out Architectural Digest or Vogue?), we always succumb and check off as many publications as our expiring points will allow.
Which is my way of explaining why I was reading Glamour magazine the other day; specifically, I was looking at an egregious photo of Snooki from MTV’s Jersey Shore in a feature called “Fashion Do’s and Don’t’s.” I am too embarrassed to tell you what Snooki was doing that got her listed in the “don’t’s” section, but I will say it involved nudity. She clearly never listened to her mother on how you are not supposed to leave the house. (If you must know what I’m talking about, it’s there in the February issue.)
It got me wondering if there was an opportunity for a “Luxury Travel Advisor Do’s and Don’t’s” section and I’m still thinking about it. If you have any ideas for it, let me know.
But for now, I thought I’d come up with my own list. Circling back to Snooki, let’s just say, generally, please leave the house fully clothed. But that does lead us into our first “do.”
- Do dress the part. This is LTA 101, but you must dress as well as your clientele. You may feel you know them well enough to hang out in ultra-casual outfits (you know what I’m talking about), but I’ve said it before: No one wants to hand over a $25,000 check to someone dressed in jeans or velour. The pre-trip process is often as much fun as the trip itself, don’t ruin it for them.
- Don’t assume everything is going right with your clients on a trip. Contact them upon arrival at their hotel to see how things are going. They might be the gentle sort who don’t want to bother you with little problems, but if they were promised an oceanview room and they have to hang off their balcony and crane their necks to see the water, that should be fixed. One disappointment on a vacation magnifies minor ones. Fix the problem at the beginning for your clients; they may quietly never call you again if you don’t.
- Don’t forget about selling trip insurance to your clients. This isn’t the sexiest side of the business but it’s one of the most important. Also, ensure that the policy allows for real-life reasons to cancel a trip. Some of the simplest policies require that you die or have limbs torn off before getting reimbursed. Trip insurance is vital for those of any age. Life happens to everyone.
- Don’t forget about your baby boomers who started turning 65 this year. Many will be retiring and although their financial portfolios aren’t as robust as they thought they’d be, a top priority is to travel. They will want to be engaged in planning their trips because, well, they think they know more than you do. They can’t help this, that’s just the way they are. Have patience and don’t assume they have all the time in the world. Some will semi-retire and use all that intelligence to launch other ventures. If so, convince them that the time that your services saves them frees them up to delve into their pent-up entrepreneurial spirit.
- Do read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. It will teach you how to work smarter and not to work for the sake of working. You’ll get out from under those hundreds of e-mails and you’ll suddenly have more time to do what you love, whether it’s tango dancing, writing poetry or traveling to far-off places for weeks or months at a time.