If someone gave you a gift, something to wear, based on what you looked like 20 years ago, wouldn’t that be odd? It would be as if they assumed you hadn’t evolved since 1998, that you were still in love with wearing cargo pants and grunge flannel shirts. In this column, Ruthanne Terrero, VP/Editorial Director, Luxury Travel Advisor, guesses you might perceive them to be a bit disconnected, a tad tone deaf to the fact that you’ve grown in to an adult with sophisticated tastes.
Are you giving your clients that identical impression by offering them the same vacation they took two decades ago? Sure, you’ve accommodated for the fact that they’ve got more time and more money to spend but you’re still sending them to the same hotel chains because you know they don’t like to change things up.
Don’t discount, however, that they might be hearing from friends who have just stayed at the cutest boutique hotel in Paris next to a delightful boulangerie. And the last time those same friends went to New York, they did not stay in Midtown! Rather, they stayed Downtown, on a side street, next to the best little bar with a band that served the most amazing pizza ever. Then, they took a literary walking tour of the area and just loved it.
Yes, your clients might be feeling a little sad right now. After all, they’re telling each other, we like to go off-the-beaten path, why doesn’t our travel advisor think we want to try new things? Maybe she thinks we’re dull.
You get it. It’s time to switch things up with your existing client base. Take them to lunch, Skype them, do whatever it takes to find out what they’re all about now. Push their boundaries and get them excited about this new style of traveling. They’ll be flattered you thought of them that way.
The sad thing is, your work won’t be done after this fact-finding mission. In reality, your clients change personalities every time they take a trip. They are a completely different person when they go to a resort or to a city hotel. They may want to detach electronically in their exotic destination but in an urban locale they zoom around at 100 miles per hour, unwilling to sacrifice any technology. They want nothing to slow down their pace.
Are you personalizing your client’s itineraries for this different sort of vibe each time they travel?
Are you consistently asking them, “Who do you want to be on this trip?”
At our general managers roundtable, we discussed the multiple personalities of the hotel guest. One day they’re with you traveling on business, using apps to communicate because they don’t want to speak to another living soul. Next time, they’re with their families, or perhaps just their spouse, and may require all the services in the world from hotel management.
The general managers at the table all agreed: They train their teams to read the guest on how to handle them trip by trip, day by day, moment by moment. The client might want to be alone, they may have just broken up with someone or lost a ton of money in the stock market. The employee who overzealously approaches them with a generic “How are you today, is there anything I can do for you?” every half hour might actually be annoying them to death.
Get real with your clients. Remember how your mom used to be able to tell something was wrong just by the way you said, “hello” on the phone and how she’d always get to the bottom of things in about two seconds? Use that same straightforward confidence to quiz your clients on what they want and who they want to be on their next vacation.