|Luxury at Sea: I’m shown here in Bodrum, Turkey, on a chartered yacht; the experience, which was sheer pampering in an exotic setting, was provided by Sea Song Tours as an excursion to our Windstar cruise, which sailed through Greece and Turkey.|
When you first meet someone, your intuition kicks in and gives you a sense of whether you trust this person, if you find them attractive or if something is off or phony about them. If a relationship ensues, whether personal or professional, your thoughts often go back to that first moment of contact. You either feel validated that you knew they were a good match for you, or worse, you’re kicking yourself because you knew better than to get involved. They’ve become a bad friend, cheated you or provided poor service to you.
If your first stirring about a person is positive, it can come from several places; sometimes we respond naturally to people who are our same body type. There’s a comfortable yin/yang if the space between feels sympatico. I personally respond to people with smiling eyes. In professional exchanges, it’s a sense of trust that is immediately either there or not there that matters. I am about to stop using a dry cleaner who always tells me “no” when I walk in the door of her shop. That’s “no, we can’t get that stain out,” or “no, we don’t have any more of your clothes in the back,” even though you’re certain you’re missing several jackets and tops that they never returned. I now trust the guy on Lexington Avenue here in Manhattan who sells 99-cent pizza, which is just awful. But I trust his pricing and I trust that he understands I’m always obviously in a hurry when I see him, so our transaction is always swift and clean.
There’s that word, “understanding,” which goes hand-in-hand with “trust.” If, in that fleeting first moment a potential customer senses that you understand what they’re about, you’re likely on the path to developing a new client relationship. But proof of that understanding will have to continue past that initial vibe. As they tell you about themselves if you’re not picking up the minute details of what their needs are and repeating them back to them, either verbally or in the itineraries you’re proposing for them, that positive first spark may go out.
In this issue of Luxury Travel Advisor, our cover subject, Kendra Thornton of Royal Travel & Tours, says that her team of Gen X advisors is successfully selling to their peers because they’re moms with kids the same age and there’s an inherent understanding of what family travel really entails. If you can convey that understanding right up front to a Gen X client, who can be fairly resistant to using a travel advisor because they’re proud of the online buying skills they’ve mastered over the years, it’s pure gold.
Gen X has become the “lost generation” of our time, and not because they’re expats living in Paris. It’s because everyone is focusing on Millennials and Baby Boomers because of the size of those groups. But Gen Xers are happily traveling, either with their children or with other couples or on their own. I say, if they’ve got money, they’re worth going after. Just be sure you show that you “get” them and don’t fudge it. Selling family travel is not just about ensuring there’s a kids’ camp at a hotel. Do you know what it’s really like traveling with a toddler or two in a hotel room? It’s got to be baby-proofed just like at home. Does the room have a tub for bathing the children or is this one of those hotels that has only showers? Does the hotel have more than one pool or will kids be “shushed” because they’re disturbing high-paying guests who have left their little ones back home with babysitters? Do you know the GM at the hotel who can ensure that this family will get connecting rooms and not be placed miles apart in different towers?
If you’ve got a sense of all these things and the many, many more details that go into crafting the perfect family vacation, be absolutely sure you’re able to convey all of this immediately, either through your smiling eyes or the careful concern you take to respond to their initial inquiries. Once you give them that, “I’ve got this,” vibe, they’ll be putty in your hands.