“For me, a true travel luxury is being blessed with clients who take the time for me to get to know them. They understand that developing the right kind of personal relationship with each other is what allows my colleagues and me to keep designing luxury travel experiences that satisfy them.”
That was Bob Romano, a partner in San Francisco-based Fugazi Travel, when we caught up with him in 2007 for his cover profile in December. If that was luxury to this top travel advisor at the time, he must surely be enjoying life now, as he reports that his agency is now “creating much more personalized itineraries for our clients. They want us to get to know them and understand their travel needs and desires more deeply, so that we can continue to plan perfect trips for them.”
This truly consultative approach has led Fugazi Travel’s annual revenue to surpass the $10 million mark, as it continues to grow via customer referrals. And indeed, that’s a strategy Romano and team are nurturing by focusing on entertaining clients in a quality setting, which could be an intimate lunch or dinner, a sporting event or even a ski excursion, rather than hosting large client gatherings.
Fugazi, which remains a “very satisfied member of Ensemble Travel,” continues to reach out to clients’ younger family members, too, “so they get to know us and look at us as trusted advisors for their travel needs,” says Romano, who adds that the agency is leveraging its use of social media wisely so that it benefits its customers “without being intrusive.”
A recent over-the-top itinerary sent six couples traveling to celebrate a milestone birthday to Villa d’Este on Lake Como. “We chartered the flying club of Como to land six seaplanes on the lake and taxi up to the hotel pier and pick up each couple. They enjoyed private flight-seeing over the Alps with a surprise landing at a small unpopulated island on the lake for a gourmet picnic accompanied by fabulous wines from Friuli and the Veneto,” reports Romano.
In another itinerary a family of four chartered a yacht to sail the Croatian coast, with private sightseeing and events planned for each of the seven days. After that, they went to Morocco to stay at the Royal Mansour and ride camels in the Sahara to the magnificent Desert Camp of Erg Chebbi.
Over the past year, Romano has visited Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and the Veneto in Italy; Maui; Singapore; Bali; and Orlando. He’s planning a September trip to India and Sri Lanka. High on his hit list is the new Brando in French Polynesia. “It’s one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited,” he tells us. “Its setting is breathtaking and magical. The local team is amazing and the hotel is luxurious, casual and private. From its gourmet cuisine to private beaches and plunge pools, it hits all the right notes.”