|At Ultra Luxury Exchange, the millennial market was a hot topic. Shown here discussing Gen Y are Lia Batkin, owner of In the Know Experiences; Shelby Donley, owner of Camelback Odyssey Travel; Julia Douglas, owner of Jetset World Travel; and Michael Holtz, owner of Smartflyer.|
We’ve just concluded the first-ever Ultra Luxury Exchange, which was held at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, FL June 2-4. Top luxury travel advisors and luxury suppliers networked over the course of the conference, while attending sessions that were packed with content aimed at helping carve out a business plan for the future.
Here are some of our findings; this is from the first day alone; watch this space for more findings from Ultra Luxury Exchange.
1. Ultra advisors are happy: They are very bullish on their luxury business. 62.5 percent of them rated their level of enthusiasm as an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.
One of the reasons? 40 to 60 year olds are not waiting to travel like the 80 year olds did. They are traveling now. Moreover, many millennials are spending freely on luxury; they grew up with luxury travel and see it as their right.
2. Speaking of Millennial Mania: Selling to millennials (a.k.a Gen Y), was a recurring topic at Ultra. To appeal to these clients, itineraries need to be less tour heavy and need to be more active, like taking a bike ride through the city.
Note: A car and driver for a full day is not necessarily the answer for millennials who are always on the go and who may want to spend that money on something else.
Sell millennials on the scene at a hotel’s rooftop bars or garden terrace rather than on the size of the room.
Wow them: Millennials like unique surprise amenities in their guestrooms, like a chocolate bar with their name inscribed on it.
3. How to attract millennial advisors: “As an employer we need to show this is not a desk job; this is a lifestyle,” said Lia Batkin, owner of In the Know Experiences, who attended Ultra Luxury Exchange.
Look outside the industry: “Our most recent hire was from a high-end restaurant; in that business you need to know how to act on the spot,” said Julia Douglas, owner of Jetset World Travel.
4. Social networking keeps changing reality: The world has changed: “photoshop” has become a verb. Photos are no longer necessarily real. Reality has been overturned. Other changes? Lane Douglas, social marketing expert at Marketbridge told attendees: “Your messaging can no longer be a unilateral push from you. It’s now about what your clients know to be true about you and how they they spread that around.”
6. Invest in social marketing ad spends: Douglas insists you set aside marketing dollars to invest in social ad placement. Let companies like social.com handle this for you. Do not do it yourself.
7. Learn to love the hashtag: Lane told us that use of the hash tag will become the dominant way to search social media. Tag your postings with smart hash tags, such as #TopHotels, so visitors to your Instagram page can search all your photos simply by clicking on the #TopHotels link, for example.
8. It’s not about product, it’s about the experience: Ritz-Carlton doesn’t just talk about Ritz-Carlton, they talk about the experience on Facebook and Twitter. Authenticity is the word. Use photos always, all the time.
Travel advisors can dominate in social marketing because consumers don’t know the answers like you do.
9. There’s an art to customer service: “Building a great trip is like selling a suit. Is it the right fit? Is it the right color?” said Anne Morgan Scully, president of McCabe World Travel, who sat on a dynamic panel on customer service. Instead of telling the customer, “no,” Scully instead says, “You may consider this instead.” Her fellow panelist, Tatiana Ferreira, of Louis Vuitton at the Mall at Aventura offered an alternative. “I don’t like to say, ‘no;’ I prefer to say, ‘Yes… if.’”
10. The butler did it: On our butler panel, we learned that advisors should teach their clients that the butler is there to ease the way for them. They should let down their defenses and not be intimidated by them. Let them pack and unpack for you (Tip: Just be sure to think about that when you’re getting ready for a trip).
“A butler’s job is not just about ‘helping’ the guest, it’s about providing the wow,” said panelist Marine Guadalpi, a butler at The St. Regis Bal Harbour.