It’s not what you know


John McMahon with Tom Civitano


Throughout my career I have heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and then I have heard “it’s not who you know, it’s what you know.” 

Usually you have a friendly debate on the correct saying. I usually come back with, “depends what you are talking about.” In the ideal situation it should be, “what and who you know” that drives success. As a luxury travel advisor you have to know both. The difficult part is maintaining those relationships and knowledge base to fit the travel needs of your clients.

I compare it to a wine cellar. Most wine collectors are never satisfied with what they have. They are in constant pursuit to find that undiscovered bottle or that rare vintage that has been snatched up by other collectors. As luxury travel advisors you need to have the passion of a wine collector. Don’t be satisfied with what you know or who you know. Don’t be satisfied with your current collection of travel experiences. Don’t be satisfied with what is handed to you based on your preferred relationships. Go out and experience what others haven’t; remember, your client is looking for that unique experience. If it’s bottled and mass-produced, it’s not a fine wine. The same is true for luxury travel. It can’t be bottled and put on the shelf; it has to be unique and different. 

I suggest you attend Luxury Travel Exchange International November 27-29 in Las Vegas to figure out the “what” and “who” you know. We will have over 500 exhibiting companies from around the world and the largest lineup of educational sessions in the industry so when you return home you will be ready to bottle your own travel experiences so your clients come back craving your next vintage travel experience. 

Pictured here with me is Tom Civitano, vice president, sales and marketing of the Jumeirah Group. We recently experienced Winged Foot golf course together, one of the top golf courses in the world. In its storied history five U.S. Opens have been staged here; to play on this private course is on every golfer’s wish list. For more, see our Sightings pages to get a glimpse of my other guests who experienced this rare privilege and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I bottled for them. And it all happened because of “what” and “who” I know.

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