by Peter J. Bates

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Moving Forward in 2012 - Listen to Clients, Engage Them For Life

As travel professionals, we are constantly on the quest to understand what our luxury clients want from their travel experiences, the latest ‘in’ destinations, and how economics, political unrest and other global events impact the consumer mindset and the future course of worldwide exploration. We have to keep pace like never before! This makes the development and implementation of an effective – and modern – strategy extremely crucial. For me, devising a smart strategy starts with research. To that end, I surveyed approximately 50 advisors at the owner or manager level who graciously shared some enlightening feedback so I’m pleased to recount with you some of their thoughts on “what’s hot” and trends in the luxury marketplace as we move ahead in 2012.

Don’t Just Speak – Listen
“When to book?” is a question constantly on the minds of both travel advisors and their clients. Leads times of 12 – 18 months are not typical anymore, whether consumers are seeking a deal or determining the ‘right’ time to travel. Said the advisors I contacted: “Consumers buy when the price, economic environment, workplace atmosphere, etc. are all aligned” and “Planning ahead doesn’t ‘pay off’ anymore due to unpredictable volatility on all fronts” – currency fluctuations, political instability, natural disasters, and pricing.

Therefore, it is vital for advisors to ensure they don’t just ‘speak’ to their clients but ‘listen’ to them. Genuine engagement can result in loyal clients – and profitability – for life. When travel advisors are indeed speaking with their clients, they should tap into their power to paint an intriguing vacation picture and inspire travelers with a global narrative of adventure, reward and enrichment. The portraits of memories created during a vacation will last a lifetime.