Top Takeaways from Ultra

Top Luxury Sales Executive: Chris Austin of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (center) is shown here with me and John McMahon, EVP and group publisher of Luxury Travel Advisor.

Top Luxury Sales Executive: Chris Austin of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (center) is shown here with me and John McMahon, EVP and group publisher of Luxury Travel Advisor.

We’ve just completed our fourth Ultra Luxury Summit, this one was held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, CA. On hand were the top luxury travel advisors, as well as a great array of suppliers. All told, it was an amazing two and a half days of great dialogue, passionate business conversations, networking and lots of good food and wine. I would say some new friendships were made along the way, as advisors from a variety of consortia and networks got to meet each other, and suppliers who were new to them, for the first time.

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We always have very intense programming at Ultra, which is really meant to be a think tank that helps travel advisors to forge a plan for their businesses. Chris Fair from Resonance Consultancy provided us with 14 tips from intel his firm culled from a series of surveys on the habits of affluent consumers. We know these folks are looking to learn something new when they travel; they’re also striving to become better people, whether through exercise, fierce sports competition or engagement with experts in the location they’re visiting. Fair noted that traveling for art has become hugely popular with affluent consumers planning travel around Art Basel and the Frieze Festival. (“Art is the new food,” he said). Fair also noted that the wealthy live in a world with virtually no borders but that the place they won’t go is where they feel particularly unsafe.

We also had the pleasure of welcoming Suzi Dailey of Dailey by the Sea to Ultra; she’s an amazing realtor with Sotheby’s in Dana Point who sells some unbelievable homes right on the Pacific Ocean. She shared tips on how to secure a client’s trust, such as by showing them that she cares about them in little ways. She’s earning their loyalty by doing things for them that clearly have no financial benefit to her.

Dailey is also an advocate of keeping in touch with these clients, should they ever want to purchase another home. She does this by sending them information curated around their interests, as well as through a newsletter. She’s also extremely adept at using video to show off the homes she’s representing; this is a real need because many of her clients are overseas and it’s the only way they can see the houses. The smartest part of all this, however, is that she puts herself in the video, so in reality, she’s selling her own subtle trusting, savvy style along with the million-dollar homes.

A session on social networking was presented by Jane Coloccia of JC Communications, who offered her tips for engaging customers with great posts. She’s very keen on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and explained how to present fabulous photos with text that puts you in the moment, rather than hawking discounted travel. Coloccia also offered up several ways to measure your audience on Instagram using SimplyMeasured.com and suggested posting a brief video if you’re in a destination or great resort rather than just a photo.

Amongst all the great meetings at Ultra, we hosted Luxury Travel Advisor’s Awards of Excellence, announcing the winners that you, our readers, selected as your favorite suppliers and executives (see pages 30-38). I’m thrilled to announce that Chris Austin of Starwood Hotels & Resorts was voted Top Luxury Sales Executive Worldwide. (He’s shown here with John McMahon and me at the amazing Montage Laguna Beach, which hosted the program.) Claudio Catani of Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence is our top general manager and we’ll be featuring him on the cover of a future issue of Luxury Travel Advisor.

What an amazing few days! Watch for further coverage of Ultra, as well as some fabulous photos, in issues to come.

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