Editor's Letter: Put it All Out There

Are you embarrassed to quote high prices for add-on experiences to your luxury clients? After all, their basic trips are costly enough and it might seem downright pushy to suggest they rent, say, a fully staffed yacht for a day.

If so, imagine your newest customers on the first vacation they booked through you. They get to chatting with the couple next to them at breakfast. That couple is going sailing for the day. Yes, on a private yacht! They even have special sailing outfits they brought along just for the experience; you know, those chic, nautical Ralph Lauren ensembles we all drool over in Vogue every resort season. The husband, who is also wearing a very special yachting cap, is bragging about how he’s ordered their favorite wine to be brought on board, he’s even got a few cigars he’s going to smoke on deck as they cruise island to island.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel and Meetings Group

Outwardly, your clients are nodding and smiling at their new friends, inside, they’re livid. They had no idea there was such a thing and they are furious with you for not telling them about such a special opportunity. Suddenly, that lazy day at the adults-only pool they’d dreamed about for months and months seems awfully boring.

Your clients don’t know what they don’t know and, so, you’ve got to tell them everything. Create a script for yourself that lets you ease in to the “selling up” conversation. How about, “I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that your resort has a special couple’s spa program that lets you rent a private cabana for an entire day.” Provide the scope of all things possible in a destination or at a hotel and let them worry about talking themselves out of it.

Travel advisors: Do you know what you don’t know? How much your clients spend on goods and services that they truly value. And we all value different things. If you don’t book services for your clients ahead of time for their vacations, they won’t hesitate to ask the hotel concierge to make the arrangements and they won’t blink at the cost. (That’s an insight I’ve borrowed from Ignacio Maza, EVP of the Signature Travel Network.)

One more thing: It’s time to realize your clients are used to spending on everything, so why wouldn’t they pay you a fee for your services? Gen Z and Millennials have grown up purchasing apps and online subscriptions, as Kimberly Wilson Wetty points in our roundtable feature. For more luxury trends, read the insights from the roundtable and review the findings from our Affluent Sentiment Survey.

On a final note, if your clients are enamored of private services (transfers, guides, car and driver, villas, planes, and yes, yachts) get in front of them now to book for the future. The travel industry is going to face a labor shortage for quite some time as employees opt for other career paths that enable them to work remotely instead of putting in long shifts at a hotel or endless hours transporting clients from one place to the next. That’s our next challenge!

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