As consumers’ purchasing power dipped from the economic downturn crippling leisure travel, the luxury segment became a shining beacon in a gloomy landscape, and bigger travel companies geared up to nurture and, more importantly, retain high-yield clients.
One challenge in catering to the luxury segment is providing the proper service. Frontliners must be empowered to manage the diverse and exacting needs of luxury tourists. Not many are experienced in catering to personalised demands, so it’s imperative that training and growth germinate from within the travel agency. There is no pool of experienced frontliners with adequate exposure to luxury travel and its subtler nuances, to poach.
Calling on the top producer in leisure marketing is the obvious way to create a special functional area for high-end clients. But this isn’t always productive. Someone with better interpersonal skills and eagerness to learn a niche expertise would do well too. Hence, sensitivity and superior interpersonal skills are of paramount importance in grooming executives to service high-end clientele.
Familiarising operations and marketing executives with clients’ needs and ability to opt for tailor-made solutions due to their superior buying power is key. One can send staff on familiarisation and educational trips to targeted properties or cities, with the overt directive of studying the finer nuances of these places’ luxury possibilities. No training beats actual experience. The drawback – one cannot visit all destinations.
Using DVDs to train agency personnel is the next best option as this drums in visual appreciation of actual facilities. Also acutely essential to inspire and motivate budding luxury specialists is conveying that they’ve been chosen since they are the best at comprehending the enormity of this sensitive but high-yield business.
The chasm between value appreciation of luxury products and the sales agent’s socio-economic background must be carefully traversed. In-house repetitive inputs into the propensity for greater spend among luxury clients and their need, or lack of it, to justify such astronomical expenditures, is imperative to ensure dedicated respect for the high-yield client. Actual inputs of this segment’s contribution to the company’s total revenue will help give staff, a pragmatic understanding of the crucial role they are playing in the profitability of the enterprise.
Selling luxury travel solutions productively also requires high emotional intelligence. The ability to wear other people’s shoes and think their way is a skill that can be developed by people with a high cognitive response ability.
(The author is a tourism consultant and freelance journalist. Email : email@example.com).
Shekhar is a veteran journalist and destination marketing consultant. With over three decades of experience in covering MICE and all aspects of tourism, he continues to travel extensively and contribute news, analysis and commentary on trends in the industry, globally. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org