Each year, Luxury Travel Advisor introduces its Trendsetters, in which we highlight top advisors from the most prestigious luxury travel agencies across the United States and beyond. Now, to feature those who help make the Trendsetters the rock stars they are, we’re debuting Luxury Travel Advisor’s Road Warriors.
All of our 2019 Road Warriors are suppliers who were selected by our most recent batch of Trendsetters. Here we have Denella Ri’chard, Holland America Line’s senior director, trade communications and engagement. Prior, she served as director business development for Norwegian Cruise Line; Ri’chard also worked for Hilton Worldwide where she was responsible for global marketing.
On her current role—and the travel industry as a whole—Ri’chard says it allows her to have the “Best. Life. Ever.” And regarding the travel advisors she works with, Ri’chard calls them “the best of the best.”
“I love working with [travel advisors] because they demonstrate a commitment to excellence, giving their clients the best vacation possible,” Ri’chard tells Luxury Travel Advisor.
And she always shows her appreciation when an advisor makes a sale. In one instance, Ri’chard says she drove from Miami to Vero Beach (about two and a half hours) when an advisor sold a Grand World Voyage, just to take him out to dinner and celebrate.
Ri’chard tells us that advisors should “experience the luxury travel that you recommend—because when you experience it, you can then speak with natural passion and your clients will be sold from your enthusiasm about your experience.” In essence: “Spoil yourself!”
She says that her preferred way of staying in contact with them is via social media. “It allows me to see what’s going on in their personal lives and how they’re doing in their business and it gives me an opportunity to connect and comment on the daily moments in their life.” Ri’chard adds that many of the advisors are her friends and that she will pick up the phone just to say hi. Other times, it’s off to conferences and road shows to meet new advisors.
“I always enjoy one-on-one appointments because it gives me an opportunity to meet new travel advisors and spend uninterrupted time learning about their business and their goals,” Ri’chard tells us. Her trick for standing out? Be lively and engaging. “My background is in broadcast journalism and I moonlighted as an actress, so I know how to entertain an audience and get them excited.”
She also makes a point to make her clients laugh. “Travel advisors have told me through the years they love my laugh. So I, naturally, have funny stories to share that make them smile.”
In addition to the various conferences that she attends, Ri’chard also partakes in Holland America Line’s Fall Road Shows (the cruise line’s biggest travel advisor events). The team hits the road for four months, visiting as many cities as they can in the U.S. and Canada, hosting events at unique locations, such as the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, Sea World in San Diego or The Museum of Flight in Seattle. In total. Ri’chard is on the road at least 14 days a month.
Ri’chard is originally from South Louisiana and got her first taste of travel in 1995 when she studied abroad in Zimbabwe. “The experience embedded travel in my spirit and that is why I chose a career in the travel and cruise industry,” she says. She’s currently based in Miami and travels to Seattle one week every month.