|I’m shown here on the banks of the mighty Mississippi in New Orleans, a city that is truly on the rise. During a recent visit, we found that most of the hotels are upgrading and renovating. Watch for my report in a future issue of Luxury Travel Advisor.|
When I was about 12, my class took a field trip to a theme park in Maine. It was pretty absurd since the ride from my town was about five hours each way, leaving us just a few hours to run around eating cotton candy and go on rides that were probably just about to break down.
The most exciting part of the trip wasn’t the theme park, however, it was the bus ride. My friends and I spent days talking about what we were going to bring with us for snacks. We kept changing our minds every day. We couldn’t wait to get on that bus and scream and eat and throw things at each other. It was one of those situations where the journey meant more than the destination itself.
Years later, I had a similar experience when my husband and I were flying to Greece via KLM Airlines. We managed to get upgraded to first class; is there anything more joyous than that? We got right into the spirit of it, enjoying champagne, selecting movies that we’d play on the flight, and laughing and chatting as if we hadn’t seen each other in years. At one point, I looked out of the window, saw the tarmac at JFK and realized we hadn’t taken off yet. “Do you realize we’re still just 15 minutes from our house?” I said. It was a shocker—in our minds we were already on our European escapade, far, far away.
If these memories can be so vivid, memories of planning a trip can be equally, or even more vivid. Don’t you sort of catch your breath when you’re going on a 10-day cruise to the Mediterranean and you realize that you actually need new clothing for the trip? What about the details of selecting shore excursions or wondering if you should go off on your own on a customized adventure? Whether it’s the more mundane need for shopping for cocktail dresses or the thought of deciding between going for a yacht ride off Portofino or having lunch at Hotel Splendido while in port, both experiences provide that marvelous, “anything is possible” vibe that is incredibly exciting.
As luxury travel advisors, you can enhance these moments by making the selling process and the planning after that an enriching one. Many of you are already experts in this act of keeping in touch with your client every few weeks until the departure date of a trip in order to keep them excited and breathless about what awaits them. Otherwise, the adventure, say it’s that 10-day cruise which turns into a two-week vacation when you include pre- and post tours, can turn into a behemoth that clients just have to get through; especially when they run through the list of things they need to do before leaving, such as boarding the pets, paying the neighbor’s son to water the lawn and that really fun act of making sure everything at your job is taken care of so you don’t leave any tasks unfinished while you’re in Europe.
Aside from simply sending teasers of port information and restaurant data to your clients before they depart, treat them to a luxury setting as you’re closing the deal. Invest in champagne that you can break out when they’ve given you the deposit, and deliver their travel documents all tied up in a big bow like a wonderful gift. These tactics don’t cost a heck of a lot but they’ll instill a vivid memory in your clients’ minds and that vivid memory will be of you and your team and all that you’ve done for them.