An elderly man sits in a hospital bed with his family all around him. A few members are reading their phones and no one is really chatting with him until he starts talking about a cruise he and his wife once took. He speaks of Venice and how they dined on the canal. The expanse of St. Mark’s Square and the glory of the Basilica are all images he’s recounting. Continuing on, he verbally takes his family on the cruise journey as his wife beside him joyfully fills in the details. Their children and grandchildren are completely engaged and ask questions about the trip.

I was so delighted to overhear this entire episode recently by happenstance. The best part? It brought home to me the importance of what travel advisors do for their clients. Someone had clearly made this trip a seamless experience for this man and his wife; he didn’t voice a single negative and his remarkable memories served him well for a time in his life when he was infirm. I also love that his family will always remember the tales from this trip and will probably want to go on a cruise themselves some day.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel and Meetings

Precious moments like this are the true bounty of your hard labor. Right now, you’re likely working around the clock to fulfill client requests and create dynamic itineraries. The sheer volume of it is daunting enough, but you’ve got to deal with the fact that your trusted DMCs can’t take on all of your business because they’re equally busy. You might not be hearing back from your dependable suppliers for the same reason. Then, you’ve got all the other regular challenges that impact travel, like the weather, transportation strikes, airline cancelations, missed flights and the fact that many of your clients are getting ready to depart for their big summer vacations and you’ve got to protect them along the way.

Still, you’ve got to safeguard for the future. Concerns of a possible recession are already causing the aspirational luxury market to purchase fewer fancy “things.” They may even be putting the brakes on planning future travel, but if you craft a marketing plan for them that pushes deals and value-adds to them, such as a fifth night free or a discounted cruise itinerary, you might just retain their business. If you can’t find deals in this booming market, tout your network benefits, such as free breakfasts and transfers. Most importantly, tell these clients that if they stop booking trips now, they may have a very challenging time getting preferred space in the future.

Next, create a lineup of your ultra-luxury clients and step up your efforts to cater to them in a meaningful way. Our research shows that these travelers are doing “more” of everything. Spending more, staying longer and bringing more family members on a trip. Don’t take all this “more” for granted, however. A mere recession won’t hurt their pocketbooks, but their psyches could be crushed if they lose a few million in the stock market on a really bad day. Regardless, encourage them to keep traveling, too. An abundance of travel translates into an abundance of wonderful memories to share down the road. Borrow my image of the elderly man and his family above if you need to remind your clients that their truly great moments could live on through generations.

All this said, remember to take time for yourselves this summer to savor the wonders of the world; you don’t want these boom times to become a blur during some of the best years of your own family’s lives.

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