As I plan to settle in for a few weeks at home for the summer, I thought I’d share some thoughts from my recent travels that you might be able to use.
Rent a house
I just attended my nephew’s wedding in a rural location and instead of staying in a local motor lodge or B&B, my extended family and I decided to rent a house, which happened to be in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. This was an unsold mountain estate that had been on the market before the real estate market crashed and it was grand. Even better, when we all chipped in, it cost each of us just a few hundred dollars for the weekend; we all had an incredible amount of space to ourselves, including a wraparound porch that had fabulous views of the mountains.
The kitchen had clearly been built for a chef, and we all went to the local store and brought back all kinds of foods that we prepared for all of our family meals. I recommend finding similar alternate accommodations for your clients through trusted vendors.
I do have a few caveats, though. Find out what kind of cell phone service is available if you’re booking an area that’s remote. We didn’t get coverage in this particular house and had to drive to the next town every time we wanted to make a call.
We also didn’t have Internet. Not a bad thing when you’re visiting with family, but you know how your clients will react if they bring with them a slew of work that needs to get done and they’re cut off from the world. And, if your clients will be driving to their rented home themselves, be sure to get them a car with a good GPS device. Some of these houses can be fairly remote and they may get lost in a forest forever if you don’t equip them properly!
Only rent a home that has a 24/7 local contact in case the Jacuzzi is broken or your client can’t turn on the gas stove. And be sure they know how to stock the kitchen or, better yet, hire a local source to have a basic pantry prepared for them, including a snack for arrival (think soup, wine, sandwiches) and breakfast items for the morning. This will make everything much more convenient for them after a long trip and they’ll be less likely to call you to complain about little things.
Hire for attitude
This is more of an operational tip that you may have heard before, but it struck a chord with me when Alex Zozaya of AMResorts, who graces our cover this month, told me how he hires his general managers, who are vital to the success of any hotel. Alex prefers GMs be completely over the moon about their jobs. “The best attitude is for those guys to say, ‘I am in the best position I ever had. I am making more money than I ever did before, and this is just the beginning of a growing path,’” he told me.
It’s preferable even to hire someone who’s never held such a position and may not know all of the ropes, but isn’t ready to bolt through the door once 5 p.m. rolls around. For this reason, Alex isn’t shy about hiring from other industries so that his managers can bring new ideas to the company.
Several of you have some very strong mentoring programs already, but if you don’t, consider creating one where you can bring in new hires who have had success in other businesses and will be able to share their ideas of how you can better run your business.
It’s a new era of selling travel and there are no rules; do whatever it takes to create inspiring experiences for your clients.