Ignacio Maza's Top Tips for Selling Luxury Travel

Ignacio Maza
When we interviewed Ignacio Maza, the executive vice president of Signature Travel Network for this month’s cover story, he provided many insights on how travel advisors can step up their luxury game. Here, we provide some of his top tips.

Today’s luxury client knows a lot. Do not underestimate their knowledge. “People have a pretty good idea of what the best looks like,” says Maza. “Their appetites have been whetted by what they read and hear; we have such a savvy, sophisticated consumer right now who has so much information at their fingertips.”

Have a holistic approach to your clients’ lives. Understand that they likely live in wonderful homes and don’t want a lesser environment when on vacation. “You want something equal or better when you travel, that is going to deliver the quality component that the consumer expects,” he notes.

Knowing what your client doesn’t like is vital. Use this intel to remove what Maza calls the “points of friction” on the trip. This could be ensuring they have early arrival access to a hotel, that they never sit near a window, are always on a high floor or any other seemingly small detail that could ruin the experience for them. The travel advisor should be the guardian against such potential problems.

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Spell out all of the good things you have done for the client. Don’t be shy. “Advisors work very hard but they need to do a better job of conveying to their customer all that they are doing on their behalf,” says Maza. The luxury travel advisor should let the client know every detail they’ve seen to so the client feels protected and taken care of.

Choose a hotel that will speak to the client. This could be the grande dame in a city that is a destination unto itself, or a busy boutique property that will give the customer that Airbnb, live-like-a-local vibe. Understand ahead of time what the customer is expecting from their lodging.

Create experiences that are wrapped around the hotel. What will be meaningful to the client? How can you tweak an itinerary so it surprises and delights the client in big ways and small ways?

Tell them to go somewhere else. Does your client want to visit a destination you know is overrun by tourists? Suggest an alternative destination that is under the radar, or put them in a luxury hotel slightly removed from the action that will provide them with a sense of solace and elegance.  

Stretch their boundaries. “Ask them to give you one day of the itinerary, so you can create a perfect day for them,” says Maza. Then, work with local destination specialists to create a day that is truly magical, whether it’s a cruise or land vacation. Such unique experiences change the consumer’s perception of what travel can be and encourages them to be more aspirational with their trip-planning. 

Earn the client’s trust by getting to know them up front. “I think so often we run to close the sale and we think that we know what the client wants, but we really don’t,” says Maza.

When quoting price, start high. He suggests presenting all that is possible when proposing an itinerary. Items can always be removed to tweak the price. Starting low and going higher provides a much different experience and can be painful to the cost-conscious. “It’s much easier to come down a little bit if you have to,” says Maza.

Let trusted suppliers speak to your clients. Maza sees this as a collaboration that will help make the sale. Better yet, it appeases the client who really wants to know what’s available. “The consumer is very hungry for information and to understand the differences between all the products. That’s important because everybody is so overwhelmed,” says Maza.

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