Firsthand Insights from Larry Pimentel: Luxury Travel’s Icon   

If asked who the face for the Luxury Travel industry is, most people would say Larry Pimentel, CTC, President and Chief Executive Officer of Azamara Club Cruises. Recently, we interviewed Mr. Pimentel for his tips and advice for The Travel Institute’s Luxury: A Lifestyle Specialist Course. But this information was too great not to share with all of you. We hope you enjoy his insights.

What is luxury?

In my experience, and research shows, this destination immersion experience is what luxury consumers and travelers are seeking more than ever. Today’s luxury consumers are seeking experiences that are exclusive, authentic, local, and, most importantly, that deliver on the human connection, which makes it most memorable.

The number one thing is it’s personal by nature. All of us have individual items that are OUR luxury. But, clearly, the research shows that experiential travel is the key focal point, but, again, the item is luxury.

Second, don’t sell the client based on what you want. You have to qualify the clients and sell them on what they want. That’s a process that takes many questions, and you’ll learn that with The Travel Institute’s Luxury Course. I think you’re going to find it a tremendous gift to serving this market.

Over the years, I’ve found a few helpful tips that are a great guide when selling to the luxury market.

First, sell the clients what they need and what they would love, rather than what you love. So, what does that mean? It means you really have to qualify each client by asking open-ended questions.

So, let me give you an example of an open-ended question. Instead of saying, “Would you like to book?” say, “Would you like to book June 15?” as an example. It’s open-ended; the clients will say, “Well, maybe not June, but maybe July would be best for us.”

You’re beginning to qualify them by asking a question that’s open-ended, which means you engage in dialogue. Dialogue is a very important process when you are going back and forth with customers. Ask them the questions that get you to recommend the proper product.

Listen carefully for selling signals. The clients will often tell you things about their travel, where they’ve been before. If they mention a quality name—perhaps it’s a Four Seasons, perhaps it’s an Azamara—the fact of the matter is that’s going to say they’re more of an up-market client.

Also, in the process, you’re always going to have objections. Clients are going to say something that might be negative. “Well, I don’t know if I like this.” “I don’t know if I like that.”

Objections are a part of the process. Answer them to the best of your capability and fully understand that an objection is only one part of the sales process. It takes YOU to help them with all the positive points. So, it’s like a scale. All the positive points could outweigh the objections. A single objection generally does not kill a sale unless YOU don’t address it.

And, most important is the very end of the process. You have to close the sale. Ask for the business. Asking for the business is really important. Why? You deserve to be paid, your agency deserves to have the income, and, at the end of the day, after doing the work, you want to be paid for what you’ve done.

It’s called GTM: Get The Money. And it sounds harsh, but it’s not because getting the money keeps you in business and allows you to consult your clients in the best possible way.

Keep in mind, this all circles back to the four experiences luxury consumers are seeking:

  1. exclusivity
  2. authenticity
  3. localization
  4. and the human connection that surrounds all of this. That’s the core of luxury when you are a seller to today’s consumer.

To learn more about developing a Luxury niche and gaining firsthand insights from industry insiders, such as Mr. Pimentel and many others, we invite you to enroll in The Travel Institute’s Luxury: A Lifestyle Specialist Course.

Last week, we discussed branding. We’d love to hear your advice and practical tips on how you differentiate yourself from the competition. Fill out this survey, and your comments may appear in an upcoming Hot Tip Tuesday!