Beginner’s Guide to Selling Luxury Travel
When I first began working at Pierbusseti, my relationship to the travel industry was minimal. I generally booked my flights and hotels on 3rd party websites, and I had no idea about the vast number of reputable and accessible resources available to me beyond TripAdvisor. I had never used a travel agent and I didn’t really understand how vital travel professionals are to planning a trip, especially when large amounts of money and valuable time are being invested. Whether you are a traveler or blogger, travel agent or tour operator, or somewhere in between, these are my best tips for creating a high quality, luxury itinerary.
#1 Understand the Experience
First and foremost, luxury travel is about experiences. Luxury travel sets itself apart from budget travel because of the experience it offers – special and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In addition to a flawless presentation, luxury travel should be 100% stress-free for travelers. While preparing an itinerary, we try to think about every small detail so that travel agents and their clients don’t have to worry before, during, or after the trip.
#2 Know the Jargon
There are many tiers of luxury travel and it is important to know the differences between some of the most common terms in the industry.
Firstly, know that “deluxe hotels” means the same as “luxury hotels” – these are 5-star properties and highly acclaimed by most rating systems. The second tier of hotels are known as “first class” or “superior,” which includes 4-star properties, before you get to the standard and economy properties. For discerning clients, we use the top two tiers of hotel types.
Another common term seen in the luxury travel market is “FIT” which usually means Foreign Independent Travel. These are generally discerning clients who require customized travel arrangements – our specialty at Pierbusseti.
#3 Do Your Research
The only way to acquire knowledge about the best destinations, services and hotels, is to spend the time researching them. There is no easy answer for getting acquainted with luxury travel. However, there are so many great resources available online and off. One of our favorite guidebook series is the Michelin green and red books (available in an online format).
We also suggest reading current publications as often as possible, such as Conde Nast Traveler magazine or the New York Times travel section, along with any trade publications that you can subscribe to. While most people love Rick Steves and TripAdvisor, these are not usually “luxury” resources – they are geared towards DIY budget travelers. Use these sparingly or as a supplemental resource.
At Pierbusseti, we are constantly reading and saving articles for future reference, and we have acquired a library of travel guides, brochures, and information books, so that we can always have the necessary resources on hand.
#4 Know the Brands
Part of the key to selling or planning luxury travel is knowing the best of the best brands, which can also change from year to year. Get yourself acquainted with hotel groups such as the Four Seasons or the Leading Hotels of the World, along with consortia such as Virtuoso and Signature. As you stay up to date with travel publications, you will start to recognize both the boutique brands and the well-known. If you sell airfare, you should also take note of the carriers with the best business and first class amenities.
#5 Use Your Contacts
At Pierbusseti, we often gain new clients by way of referrals from travel agents who use our services and know the high quality of our work. As you navigate the world of luxury travel, ask your colleagues for recommendations or referrals, and attend relevant workshops, sales presentations and networking events. I have found that the travel industry is very welcoming and knowledgeable, and it never hurts to ask!
In the comments, let me know if you think I missed anything.