When travel stopped last year, luxury travel advisors learned a lot about the people they work with on a frequent basis. Many suppliers became more than partners, they evolved into virtual soulmates with advisors as both sides struggled to get clients home, get them refunds or reschedule future vacations. Those suppliers outshone those who disappeared or didn’t see the importance of communicating with those very advisors who had brought them some very large and profitable bookings.

It’s so true, though, on the client side as well, isn’t it? Travel advisors got to know their customers even more, and in some cases, way too much. Consumers were clearly frustrated and baffled as their trips were cancelled, but how did they treat their travel advisor who had to deliver the bad news, in many cases?

It’s time to take a step back and reassess as we enter the second half of 2021, which is shaping up to be that comeback year we earnestly prayed for months ago.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero

We checked in with travel advisors attending our Ultra Luxury Summit in San Antonio later this month, to get their take on how they’ve edited their client rosters of late.

“I learned to focus on my ideal client and not sweat the tire kickers or those who are unwilling to pay a fee for my services. Time is money and life is too short to waste energy on clients who aren’t the right fit for my business,” said one.

What a healthy perspective. Many of you oddly enough earned a certain quality of life during the pandemic, if only because of the newly found time you had on your hands because of the travel stoppage. How can you retain that balanced feeling going forward, instead of rushing right back into the rat race? Here’s one answer. “Not all clients are equal,” said another Ultra advisor. “I have started to limit which clients I will take on.”

“You want to do business with people who share your values and ethos. The pandemic brought out the worst in people and the best in people,” said another advisor, who added that communication, authenticity and vulnerability are key to maintaining and strengthening relationships. 

That word, “vulnerability,” strikes a chord with me. We were all vulnerable these many, many months, some for devastating reasons and others simply because what was normal seemed forever gone on certain days. I was truly struck during my interviews with Alexis Romer, VP of sales for the Luxury Travel Industry at Marriott International Luxury Brands; Tristan Dowell, global VP for Luxury, Lifestyle & Leisure for Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Leslie Dodson, senior director global luxury sales, North America for Accor.  

They all spoke of the emotional (Zoom) times they spent with advisors during the pandemic and how those interactions meant so much to them personally because the entire world was in such dire straits. These are bonds that will certainly be stronger than ever as we proceed into our new era of luxury travel. In many ways, I’m not surprised the relationships between suppliers and advisors are stronger, because that’s always been the strength of the travel industry, particularly on the luxury side. Everyone always helps each other, even if they are competitors.

So, look at you as you move ahead! It’s turning out just as we hoped and the future is bright with strengthened friendships and profitable bottom lines clearly in the forecast. Well done, all!

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