What Does ‘VIP’ Really Mean?

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I continue to hear that suppliers are frustrated with advisor requests to “VIP” their clients without receiving any specifics on what would actually make the guest feel like a VIP. Is it a special greeting from the general manager as they walk through the front door? Is it a bottle of wine or an upgrade to a top suite? Maybe a giant chocolate chip cookie with their name spelled out on it would make them swoon. We all have different things that push our “I feel special” button.

Very often, the things that will make a person smile on a trip don’t cost a lot. It’s recognition of the human kind — an immediate sense that the hotel or the ship they’re on is a safe place, filled with individuals who are there to make them feel cocooned in an atmosphere of luxury.

Ruthanne Terrero

In my mind, if an advisor makes such a vague request to “VIP” a client, they don’t know their client that well and that’s a problem that requires going back to the basics. When you qualify a client, ask them what makes them feel important in general and what has made them feel welcome during past hotel stays. What do they do in their free time that makes them feel happy? 

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Now, write down a list of at least three things a hotel could reasonably do for this client to “VIP” them and share it every time you make a booking for them. If a client is into fashion design, good Scotch and horses, tell the hotel so they can get creative. More and more great hotels have in-house libraries to draw from, allowing them the chance to place books in your client’s suite. Imagine as your client walks in to their room and sees coffee table volumes on mid-century fashion and great equestrians, along with a bottle of Pinch next to them. Total cost to the hotel? Probably $50. Wow factor for the guest? You can’t put a number on it.

You can’t have an in-depth conversation with every single hotel about your client’s favorite things, but you can communicate this little cheat sheet to them in that same sentence you’re writing to request they receive “VIP” recognition. It takes another 30 seconds to write, “Likes fashion, horses and Scotch.” Really good hotels want to please the guests. If they ignore your careful request, consider another hotel or pick up the phone to have a conversation with the head of luxury sales or the general manager.

While you’re at it, include information on what your client doesn’t like. That bottle of wine in the room is the worst thing you could give to someone who has just quit drinking, and that plate of chocolates could be a horrible offering to someone who has just lost a lot of weight.

Customers like to know that their travel advisor has their back. You can prove this in small, caring moments such as these or you can be an all-out hero and rescue them from true crises when their good vacation has gone bad because of poor weather or other disruptions. 

Take the time to protect them in these little ways and you’ll end up garnering a loyalty that will pay you back for years and years to come.

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