With 80 percent of his luxury agency’s $7 million in annual revenue originating from direct hotel bookings, David Ourisman of Ourisman Travel, a Brownell affiliate in Berkeley, CA, excels with a unique business model. High-net-worth clients benefit from his luxury hotel expertise, honed by firsthand site inspections. His detailed insight is then published for current and potential clients to read.
Personally posting $2.5 million in travel revenue annually, Ourisman also credits the agency’s success to staying “on top of the ever-developing world of preferred partnerships among luxury hotel chains.”
But while luxury hotel sales create the bulk of the boutique, family-owned agency’s sales, the group also creates “Tailored Luxury” FITs. Praising his team of seven travel experts working remotely from different locations and time zones, Ourisman says they collaborate as one virtual office, utilizing such technology as Slack and Ping Pong, a proprietary online system. “Ping Pong enables us ... to bounce the ball back and forth among different team members who manage different aspects of each booking — from the moment of sale to our back-office task,” he says.
What factors fostered Ourisman Travel’s success? Adopting use of social media in 1996, Ourisman built a loyal following through postings on Internet luxury travel forums by publishing online hotel reviews, such as the “Luxury Hotels of Paris,” after returning from trips, and by becoming a “first source” of information about benefits offered through consortia such as Virtuoso and preferred hotel partnerships. That same year, he also launched a travel blog, Travel Horizons (travelhorizons.ourismantravel.com), now with more than 1,200 blog posts, many illustrated with his own photos, and 433,000-plus page views. “I often say that photography is my excuse to travel,” quips Ourisman. One of his photos took the grand prize at the 2016 Virtuoso Travel Week.
Efficiency-wise, Ourisman streamlined his agency’s sales process by eliminating time spent creating / mailing the same content about recommended luxury hotels worldwide to different clients. Instead, he created Google Maps showing Virtuoso hotel locations and amenities in different destinations. Today, the agency’s website index has 74 such Google Maps (ourismantravel.com/resources/map-your-hotel).
Moving forward, Ourisman knows that travel is often an impulse purchase, so he’d like to implement weekend and holiday hours to increase business. He also plans to “rethink fees” to be smarter about how they’re charged. If a late booking request wastes time due to limited availability and constantly rising room rates, then a late booking fee makes sense, he says, but if availability is there, “it makes more sense simply to make the sale and say, ‘thank you.’”
Traveling to Australia recently, Ourisman snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, stayed at Lizard Island, viewed Uluru at dawn, hiked from Coogee to Bondi Beach and relaxed in an Opera View room at the Park Hyatt Sydney. In his leisure time, he enjoys the San Francisco Chronicle’s daily sudoku puzzle and has just read “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Residing in Berkeley, CA, Ourisman is married to Claire Stone and has two adult children.
Previously, he served as a United Methodist Church pastor and taught theology. Interestingly, his travel career didn’t begin until his 55th birthday. He was a member of Brownell’s first mentoring class in 2006, and today “appreciates the professionalism, collegiality and warmth of the Brownell family.” Now a 13-year luxury travel advisor, Ourisman tells us: “It’s been the best job I’ve ever had.”