Want to delve into luxury family travel? These three Virtuoso travel advisors have some great tips you’ll want to file away:
Luxury: Something Different for Each Client
Jessica Griscavage, owner of Runway Travel, an independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel, Inc., says that when planning travel for her luxury family clients, she always asks what their main goals and expectations are for each trip. “Sometimes a journey is all about education and culture. Other times it’s about spending quality time together and recharging and reconnecting with one another,” she says. “Knowing the goals and needs of the family can better help me plan and suggest itineraries and destinations to make the best use of their precious vacation time.”
She also stresses that it’s important to know what a client’s budget is. “Luxury means something different to each client and that always carries over to budget,” notes Griscavage. “It’s not possible to work on a trip and plan an itinerary if you are not working within a client’s budget or if their expectations can’t be met.”
Griscavage also points out that it’s imperative to gain knowledge for future trips from the family’s previous experiences. “I always ask where they have traveled before and what their favorite experiences have been,” says Griscavage. “Learning from their past experiences assists me in making the right choices for my clients. I learn what brands they prefer, what type of hotels they enjoy, what pace they prefer to go. You can learn so much just by asking about their previous experiences.”
When asked what one tip she would give travel advisors who are new to the luxury family travel market, Griscavage says: “Listen to your clients’ needs and set expectations. Travel has changed. Rates are higher post-pandemic on top of inflation. Many people haven’t traveled for several years, and some are very sticker shocked on what hotels and resorts cost these days. Be very honest when setting expectations on budget and what services you can provide. Set realistic expectations on when you will have proposals and answers for your clients. Also, be honest on what possibilities are. It is not possible to see an entire country in seven days. As advisors, we are people-pleasers and don’t want to disappoint; however, it is our job as advisors to be honest and make sure our clients are going at a realistic pace.”
Your Client’s Unique Travel Style
“Prior to starting any planning process, it is important to understand the client’s idea or concept of luxury and how they like to travel,” says Stephanie Fisher of Stephanie Fisher Travel, an independent affiliate of Huffman Travel. “Everyone has a different idea. For some it is white glove service, for others, it’s barefoot on the beach and disconnected, and still others it is the luxury of time with family, friends or those they love.”
Fisher says that she has three questions she asks her clients before she starts planning their trip:
- When you envision this trip, what are the top three things you hope to see or experience?
- What is the budget that you have in mind?
- What are your hobbies or interests that we can weave into this itinerary, and do you have any mobility limitations we should be aware of?
And she says that if she could offer one tip to travel advisors entering this market, it would be: “Make time to schedule an exploratory call with clients. Many times responses on forms do not catch the small details that a conversation can convey. The small touches and extra knowledge of a clients’ likes and especially dislikes can make all the difference. It’s all about the details and our knowledge can elevate their experience from a good holiday to an unforgettable trip.”
Don’t be Shy, Charge a Fee
Julie Danziger, founder & managing partner of EMBARK Beyond, tells travel advisors who are new to the biz to charge a fee. “Don’t be shy,” she says. “Families need guidance, support, and time. Your time is valuable. Don’t be afraid to charge a fee for that valuable time and advice/guidance.”
She also notes that there will be a lot of personalities to deal with, “so knowing,” she says, “who the decision maker is will be key.”
Danziger says that when planning travel for her luxury family clients, she needs to know if they are a new client to Embark or an existing one. “New clients tend to have different questions,” she says, “focusing first on how we operate and who we are and then on the booking, where existing clients know the drill. Beyond the ‘how do you work or what are your fees,’ clients typically ask about the cancellation policy; what are the enhanced amenities or added value for booking with Embark; and is it too close to travel to book (we get a lot of folks looking to book last minute).”