Selling Luxury Travel: What’s Working?

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There’s no right way to sell luxury travel. With that said, at Signature Travel Network’s first-ever Luxury Summit in Dallas, TX, held April 10, executive vice president Ignacio Maza spoke about several Signature advisors who were running their business a bit differently to educate and inspire the 250 members in attendance.

Idea 1: Sell From Your Home

Kareem George, Culture Traveler

“Kareem does ‘personal’ with a capital ‘P,’” Maza says. He hosts travel events from his home, where he invites just one or two partners, as well as existing clients (“true believers,” Maza calls them) and prospects. He will have the event catered and will arrange presentations for the consumers. “This is not a hard sell, this is not hitting you over the head with a two-by-four; it’s very subtle,” Maza says of George’s events. “It’s just educating, educating, educating.” And the numbers back up the success of the events: George has an 80 percent closure rate.

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Idea 2: “By Invitation Only” Groups

Jane Lee Winter, Town & Country Travel

Winter, much like George, hosted events at her home. She would invite a chef and a safari guide to come speak with clients but, from there, these events blossomed into something bigger. Now, she hosts “by invitation only” groups, meaning everyone who partakes in the trip has to approve of everyone else in their entourage (think groups of up to 12). “She thinks the destination is as important as who you travel with,” Maza says. Winter will do the first level of vetting, grouping like-minded clients together but, ultimately, the group has the final say on who goes.

Idea 3: Use Social Media to Promote Unique Luxury Experiences

Ivy Tjok, Prestige Travel

Tjok recently attended a Signature event in Orlando, FL where the members toured TCS Travel’s new private jet. At the event, she made sure to get photos of the plane from all angles, as well as some of her in fun poses (including behind the wheel in the cockpit) and posted them on social. From the exposure, it helped her close an $800,000 sale—the largest ever for TCS—according to Maza.

Idea 4: Motivate Your Team With the Right Incentive

Philip and Catherine Banks, Legacy Travel

The secret behind this married couple’s success is creating the right incentives for their team, Maza says. Each year, they will announce an all-expenses-paid trip to their advisors if they reach a certain sales number, which Maza called “pretty aggressive.” Previously, Legacy Travel sold a lot of mid-tier and premium travel, meaning the advisors would need to complete a lot of transactions to hit the number; now, the whole agency has moved more into the luxury space to help meet their sales goals, Maza says. “Having that goal and somrthing to aspire to is important,” he adds.

Idea 5: Educate and Inspire Consumers With Events That Work

Adam Lazarus, Wendy Hathorn and Ryan Hansen, Bon Voyage Travel

While there are advisors who host their own consumer events, Maza says this trio took the idea back to the drawing board to see how they could take it to the next level. First, they decided to do a preview hour for their top clients; so, these guests were able to arrive an hour early and get special access to speak with the partners in a less-crowded, more-VIP setting. Second, during their home “trade shows,” they will host informal educational forums, allowing consumers to wander around and pop into whichever event they find most interesting, all the while getting the inside scoop from one of the agency’s advisors. Maza says their most recent event resulted in more than $1 million in sales.

Idea 6: Make the World Your Home

Steve Shulem, Strictly Vacations

Advisors spend so much time on the road—it’s truly the best way to get to know a destination or product. Shulem took that to the next level by moving all of his furniture into storage and taking his business completely on the road, operating his business from his laptop and whatever continent he happens to be on. Staying in touch with clients with such a hectic schedule can become difficult, Maza says, but Shulem uses an app that tells him where every single client of his is each day of the year, and he makes a point of contacting them weekly. Maza adds that he just came off his most successful month ever, closing $1 million in sales. Note: Shulem does use a team based in Santa Barbara, CA that assists with the fulfillments and documenting.

Idea 7: Reinvent Your Business With a New Team

Kathleen Stahl, Kathleen Stahl Travel Services

Kathleen Stahl was faced with a predicament that many advisors may find themselves in: her best salesperson(s) were retiring. Instead of folding up shop, she reinvented her business. Stahl now works with a local state university to help bring paid interns into her agency to teach them about the industry and business. The program has been so successful, Maza says, that Stahl received over 100 applicants for one open position. Stahl also empowers her employees by giving them control over the interview process—all applicants must meet with the team first. “That is the No. 1 challenge: We have to bring that next generation into the business.”

For more information about how Stahl runs her business, you can check out our March cover story.

Regardless of which route you take, Maza says the secret ingredient across the board is confidence. “These advisors have this belief in themselves, they believe that they can make these changes and do these things.”

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