Advisor Speak: The Emotional Intelligence Factor

During last month’s Virtuoso Travel Week, which took place in Las Vegas, the overarching theme was “What’s on Your Wanderlist?—in other words, where do travelers want to “wander” to? Virtuoso, in fact, offers its travel advisors the Wanderlist travel plan tool, a travel portfolio that helps capture clients’ dreams and prioritize what matters most—“a clear path to mapping out your future travel possibilities,” according to Virtuoso. Delving even deeper, another point of discussion was how much of that wanderlist is based on one’s own emotional intelligence (or EQ)?

That was the topic at hand during a panel discussion at Virtuoso Travel Week featuring four travel advisors from around the globe: Anne Scully, McCabe World Travel in the U.S.; Cate Caruso, True Places Travel, an affiliate of CADENCE, in Canada; Philippe Brown, Brown + Hudson, in the UK; and Charlotte Harris, Charlotte Travel, in Hong Kong.

When asked how they think EQ plays into selling travel, Scully noted that as a travel advisor “you have to be a good listener—what are they [clients] feeling. Do that deep dive into the emotional side.” Brown added that, “It’s important to connect to the client’s emotions; travel is all about emotions,” with Harris pointing out that, “We work with our clients by building a relationship with them. We take time to dig deeper into who they are. It’s not just about meeting with them and asking a set of questions; it’s the body language. If you are planning a trip with the family, and meeting with the parents, see if they are they dressed in brand names; if so, then there should be shopping involved; do they love dogs…. Get the little details and translate that into their travel plans.” Caruso added a good point, stating that she always asks her clients, upon their return from their trip, “What was one of the things you learned most about yourself on the trip?”

You have to be a good listener—what are [clients] feeling. Do that deep dive into the emotional side.
— Anne Scully, McCabe World Travel

Another discussion point was the overuse of words such as “authentic, experiential,” with travel advisors asked if “EQ was the normal transition.” Brown noted that travel advisors “have to focus on the essential, not use these words as trends. Emotion is something we can focus on, and it’s meaningful. The word ‘imagine,’ that’s one of the most important words we can use.” Caruso added that the EQ concept makes her think about multi-gen travel, because “it’s that component about being a little bit out of your comfort zone coupled with those people you love around you…this is what locks in those memories and ups that EQ scale.”

One of the most interesting points that came out of the panel discussion was when Scully noted that “travel advisors are biographers of their client’s life story.” With that in mind, noted Brown, you have to start talking to your clients “about travel as a concept—travel to help fix a problem. It’s about how they go, not where they go. How can travel resolve problems—some people travel to solve something about themselves, not to visit a place. What matters is what we [travel advisors] do before they travel…. Travel is a concept; we find people come to us and say, ‘This is my why, and why should I travel and then where.’

“It’s our goal as travel advisors to educate,” he adds. “Our future is very much in educating—it’s not a simple act of booking a ticket and that’s it. It’s important to connect to the emotions.”