At Signature Travel Network’s 2017 Regional Education Forum, held at the Mandarin Oriental, New York in Columbus Circle on June 28, executive vice president Ignacio Maza spoke on the state of luxury travel.
He began with a simple question: Why?
In 2016, $120 billion was spent on travel, and, of that, luxury is the fastest growing segment with the best ability to add value.
Among the affluent, travel is a growing priority. Maza quoted Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche, in his presentation: “luxury is something you don’t need that you do not want to miss.” From this, he explained that most luxury travelers are looking for select things; they are: quality, exclusivity, a sense of place, access, and something meaningful, unforgettable, and socially responsible.
Travel has become an investment; and not solely a monetary one. The memories from travel get passed on within a family and become part of their story, as Maza put it. This is why travel advisors are so important to this type of clientele. Maza quoted Patrizia Pressimone, COO at Givenchy, saying: “Luxury is not measured in dollars, it is measured in details.”
Maza picked out a few Signature advisors who he felt are best exemplifying an advisor who is taking advantage of this. Among them was Melissa Pugh from Jet Set World Travel, who revealed to Luxury Travel Advisor her top“secrets to success. Each had a slightly different approach but there were a few steadfast tactics that Maza noted. The three investments he believes every advisor should be making are:
- Read what your clients are reading – advisors have to be current on trending destinations and the world
- Travel – spending time traveling is just as important, if not more so, than planning travel. You first need to lay the foundation for what you can sell. As Maza put it, you have to first fill a jar with rocks (your own travel) before adding sand (your clients’ travel); if you do it the other way, you have no time (or space) for yourself.
- Build your brand – Your story, website, business card, email, documents – even attire – should have a purpose.
He left the advisors in attendance with a few words of wisdom:
- There are no shortcuts
- You will be tested again and again
- You wont know everything about everything but you can know everything about your clients (he suggests picking the top 20 percent and really getting close to them)
- Get closer to your preferred supplier partners. Knowing where to find the answers is a big help, and “partners have 99 percent of the answers”
- Think like a financial planner
- Ask a lot of questions
- Be bold
- Shine when things go wrong (be there for your client when they need you)
- Learn to say no. Some clients who aren’t worth your time can drag you down
During the presentation, Maza also highlighted Signature’s new Suite Privileges Program, which launched in April. With this membership, advisors receive an additional $100-150 benefit with booking suites and villas; plus, it is combinable with current Signature benefits and has over 400 hotels worldwide participating.
The launch coincided with new SigNet tools, which offers microsites on forms of travel (i.e.: culinary, specific destinations). Maza also mentioned that advisors are also privy to electronic marketing and social media tools, as well as Ultimate Experiences Online, a digital publication.