Editor's Note: What’s Your Passion Point?


Ruthanne Terrero with Marc Langevin
Celebrating 10 years of STARS: I’m shown here with Marc Langevin, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman at the 10th anniversary gala of The Ritz-Calrlton STARS program. Watch for more coverage of this prestigious weekend in a future issue.

I don’t know about you, but when I was getting married and setting up my kitchen for real (i.e., buying new appliances, not just using someone else’s hand-me-downs), I didn’t have the option of buying a pink Cuisinart or a green blender or a red washing machine. No, sir, my choices were black, silver and maybe white. I asked an editor of a housewares publication one time (I think I had just seen a blue toaster in Sears) why all of a sudden manufacturers were pushing traditional products cast in the colors of the rainbow and he said, “Think about it. These appliances are built to last a lifetime, so you theoretically shouldn’t have to buy another one. The colors are to make you want to purchase another, to replace your first one.”

The concept remained novel to me over the years until I walked into a Sur La Table kitchen shop and came upon a set of purple measuring cups. They took my breath away. I didn’t buy them, however, but I thought about them periodically over the next few months. Then, I went into a new Sur La Table store that opened in the mall near my house, and there were the purple measuring cups, but get this, they were on sale. They had purple measuring spoons, too, and tiny mixing bowls and a colander. These were all things I already had, but mine were silver, not purple. Forty dollars later, I had completed my purchase.

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Why did I behave as I had? Because the offer on hand touched upon two of my passion points: purple and “on sale.” The combination of the two could not suppress my impulse to gather all of those items in my arms and run to the cash register, credit card at the ready.

Lessons learned from this experience could be used to better sell travel. Sure, you have clients who have ticked dozens of countries and even suppliers off their list; these are the folks you’re always looking to shock and awe with a new travel idea. But perhaps there’s a way you can get them back to the more mainstream destinations by pushing their passion buttons. That’s buttons, plural. If you find an itinerary that will allow just one of the travelers to explore his innermost culinary fantasies, you have a chance at winning a couple over. But find an option that also includes the other’s love of racing cars, and you’ll increase your odds of making the sale.

Catering to a client’s passions can be even simpler. Say her definition of luxury is space and quietude. Showing her a grand image of an oversized guest room with views onto a long stretch of quiet beach might close the sale. Maybe his passion points are golf and rare Scotch. St. Andrews will immediately come to mind, of course, but perhaps there’s also a Las Vegas resort that prides itself on its unique liquor offerings that also has access to exclusive tee times at an amazing golf course in the area.

It’s all a question of logic, isn’t it? Take the time to look at your client files and create a page for each person, citing all of their favorite things. Then sit back and contemplate all of the wonderful resorts and destinations you have a strong knowledge of and see if you can match them to your client. What you’re really doing is creating a bucket list for each individual. Review the list with your customers and keep good notes on their reactions. The learning process never ends, since we are all constantly evolving and changing. Keep the list and notes in a folder and then watch for a sale to come across the transom. When that hotel is offering a “buy three nights, get five” deal or when that destination gets new airlift and has promotional rates to fly there, you’ve got a reason to reach out to your affluent client to cinch the sale. Let’s face it, a discount is everyone’s passion point, whether they admit it or not.

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