Editor's Note: What Does Your Client Want?

 

Ruthanne Terrero at the luxury roundtable in NYC
Talking luxury: I’m shown here at the luxury roundtable we hosted back in January at The Chatwal in New York City.

 

I learned a lot from the luxury roundtable we hosted in January at The Chatwal, which comprised luxury advisors and hoteliers. Here’s a glimpse; for more, see pages 34 through 37.

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Bucket List Concept Expands: Clients 55 and over are no longer waiting to fulfill their bucket list travel; they are going now. Don’t be afraid to press them to make more than one trip a year.

Affluent Clients Are Spending Their Wealth: They have decided they are not taking it with them, or leaving it behind. And they’re spending it on travel.

Multi-gen Travel Gets Bigger Still: Family travel has grown rapidly since 9/11 as people realize quality time with loved ones is important. Smaller multi-gen groups are growing to 20 to 40 in size, getting larger each year as the extended family joins in. 

Rules Are Out for Luxury Travelers: They want it on their terms; if they are going to spend money on a milestone birthday or bucket list item, they want it customized and hand delivered.

Wealthy Travelers Will Not Be Undercut: They are still looking for the deal; they want to know how much things cost and what extras they’re getting. They will check and quadruple check what advisors are quoting them.

Su Casa Es Mi Casa: Luxury travelers want your hotel to feel like their house. They want the GM to be their best friend, but from an arm’s length.

New Clients Need Training: The positive press travel advisors have gotten in the consumer outlets is making you attractive to a group of consumers who didn’t know about your services. But this is a generation that would rather text you than speak to you. Come up with innovative ideas to open up the conversation so that you get to know them well enough to plan their travel.

By Now, They Are Used to Being Wowed: How can you bowl them over at “hello?” with unique offerings before they can ask you for more?

Recognition Still Goes a Long Way: Consumers want the hotel to remember their name, what they did on their last visit, and what they had for dinner last night. And everyone wants to be treated like an A-lister. Everyone.

What’s in Their DNA: A client may tell you what they want to do, but press deeper to determine their true dreams. They may yearn for certain things they think are not possible and will not bring up on their own.

They Need to Be Forced Out of Their Comfort Zone: Have they gone to the same resort for the past 15 festive seasons because it’s a family tradition? Add up their annual expenditure and compare what exotic trip they could take for the same price.

They Want to Use Mileage for Seats: If your affluent traveler is counting on using their frequent-flyer points to get to their vacation, they’ll need to play at least a year out. Ask if they plan to use these points to fly right up front so you’re not expected to perform magic a month out from their departure. 

Book Early for Small, Exotic Groups and for Cruises: The trend is to travel with a select few to far-flung destinations. Warn your clients that they need to book these as far out as possible to get a spot on the trip or to get a decent cabin on a small ship. River-cruise vessels are smaller so they’re not going to get their choice if they procrastinate. The same goes for the top accommodations on ocean-cruise ships.

Expect Last-Minute Bookings: If their best friends are about to depart for a vacation, they may want to join in. Be proactive and ask them if any of their friends are planning trips they may want to join them on to get the benefits of long-term planning.

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