Martine Dorobanti, an independent contractor for seven years with Betty Maclean Travel, Inc., knows the value of the Internet and social media. But when it comes to getting and keeping new business, her first tool of choice is the phone.
“I always try to have a five-to-10-minute conversation with a new client instead of e-mailing. It makes a personal connection and they can really understand the value of an advisor,” she tells us. “It always provokes more questions and I learn more about them than they would necessarily tell me in an e-mail.”
This is especially important when dealing with pre-Millennials for whom, she says, the Internet can be very daunting. “Most don’t have the time to do the research. I can hear the relief in their voice once we speak and they always say, ‘I wish I’d found you years ago.’”
And once they realize the value of a trusted travel advisor, “They tell their friends and the referrals keep coming. Being an IC, I rely heavily on referrals,” she says.
The native Long Islander / New Yorker, who has lived the last 18 years in Naples, FL, started traveling at the age of two. Every year her parents took her and her six brothers and sisters with them to such places as Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Morocco, the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as “every state [and] every national park” in the U.S. Travels with her own children (Isabelle, 18, and Michael, 17) and her husband, Mihai, include frequent trips to Romania to visit Mihai’s family.
Not surprisingly, therefore, Dorobanti focuses much of her sales efforts on families.
“I understand what these clients are looking to do. I get that kids don’t want to go from museum to cathedral throughout Europe so I make sure I add a fun cooking class or chocolate-making class for the kids, a tour to the Ferrari factory [in Italy],” and such, she says.
She’s not shy about telling clients if she feels the trip they have in mind is not right fit for them. “It is not all about the sale but more importantly about the experience and memories, which will keep the clients coming back for years.”
Dorobanti also sells a lot of Europe FITs, especially Italy, again with personal touches such as “a cooking class at a countess’ private villa [or] a private yacht and snorkeling day in Santorini,” she says. “I like to treat every client as a VIP and make them feel special. For example, I will send a bottle of wine or champagne to a restaurant where they are dining,” rather than to their hotel room. “It is unexpected, welcoming, and shows that I am paying attention to every detail and thinking of them every step of the way.”
In addition, she makes sure she knows and acknowledges their birthdates and anniversaries, and, “I always send an e-mail to the hotel and VIP my clients and make sure they are getting the best service possible,” she says.
This past May, Dorobanti, who holds a BA in history from Boston’s Northeastern University, took an Abercrombie & Kent trip to India, where The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur “took my breath away. I would go back in a heartbeat. The best staff and service,” she says, adding that she also “felt like a princess at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.” Her plans for 2020 include Chile and Argentina.