I love to travel. It’s surprising since I travel extensively for work, that I also chose it as my hobby for leisure. However, because I still work, I have limited time to vacation. This means that when I plan a trip, it is going to be a special one. In the past 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Patagonia, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, France, Italy again, Peru, Croatia, The Azores, Costa Rica, Nova Scotia, and of course Italy again. I’ve also managed to fit in some great places in the US in between all those international flights!
What I have learned is that the travel is great, but it’s the pre-travel excitement that is really important. In this dreaming/planning stage, I gather information, read reviews, and narrow down my choices. At some point during that process, I am going to pick up the phone and actually speak to a real person. Since I have narrowed this down to a property that I feel will provide me a memorable experience, I want to have that verified over the phone. That one call can make it or break it.
In my recent research on the luxury buyer, I have found their buying journey is similar. The luxury buyer is savvy. He/she is experienced and knows what it’s like to have the ultimate experience – and what it is like not to have one. The luxury buyer is smart. He/she has researched online and has either made a selection or narrowed down the field. Hotels make it so easy for them to book online now, so why are they calling? If they pick up the phone there is a good reason. It is critical that that representative discover the reason why. How can they help the potential guest? How can they help them buy? The seller must know what to ask and then actively listen and respond correctly. If the buyer feels the person they are speaking with is just checking off a list of questions to fill in a field, they will lose confidence. They become a number and that is the last thing a luxury guest is ever willing to be. The discovery experience must be caring and helpful, not inquisitive and rote.
The luxury buyer can be demanding. Whether they are the type to communicate it right away or if the representative has to dig deeper to discover it, this potential guest has high expectations. They aren’t just booking a room or a group of rooms, they are dreaming about their stay. Many leisure travelers feel this is one of the most valuable parts of their trip – imagining what their experience will be. Now, with the blend of business and leisure, this translates to those luxury business travelers as well. Does your staff paint a verbal picture for the caller? Do they understand the caller’s dreams and help in creating a pre-stay experience by encouraging those expectations? Do they make recommendations specific to that individual that will enrich their time spent at your property? Can they be the helpful expert – not just on your property, but for the entire travel area?
Their experience has begun over the phone and will carry on throughout their stay and then to the post-experience reviews and referrals. The image, the assurance, the connection, the discovery, the dreams, and the final perfect plans can all be sculpted by the representative of the luxury hotel or resort. I’m ready to plan my next trip, are you ready to sell me my dream experience at your property?