To Sell Luxury, You Must SWIM with the Fish!    

In all our discussions on finding potential clients and marketing your services, we tell you to fish where the fish are. And we stand by that advice. However, when selling luxury travel, we urge you to take it one step further and to SWIM with the fish instead.

What does this mean?

To SELL luxury, you must BE luxury.

You won’t find affluent consumers by hoping they’ll rush through your door or call you on the phone. You must make friends, meet people, see and be seen. This is easy in the luxury travel business IF you know where to go and whom to see.

For example, one great way to be seen by affluent clients is to sponsor a local charity sporting event. During golf season, dozens of these are held at country clubs nationwide. Highend charity events frequently offer a fabulous prize of cash, a trip, or a new car to a player who makes a hole-in-one on one of the course’s par 3s. Usually, of course, no one makes the hole-in-one, but it creates great excitement among the players.

If your budget and lifestyle permit, you might consider a membership at your local golf, tennis, yacht, or country club. A social membership—if available—may cost several thousand dollars a year (as opposed to full membership or equity membership, which requires a large up-front payment as well as annual dues). Playing golf or dining weekly at the club is a tried-and-true way to network among well-to-do prospects.

Just Dive In.

You must keep your eyes and ears open and be alert to the lifestyle habits of affluent customers. There are plenty of activities, groups, and events you can immerse yourself in by advertising your luxury travel specialty in relevant publications or simply by attending. These include:

  • University Alumni Groups In general, affluent consumers are well educated, and a countless number of them have attended college and may have advanced degrees. You can reach them through alumni groups.
  • Upscale Communities Many baby boomers who have retired and are living in age 55+ upscale communities—especially those featuring spas, golf courses, and other amenities—have the time, money, and interest to travel the way they live.
  • Cultural Interest Organizations Opera, symphony, ballet, jazz, and museum associations and events are popular with affluent consumers.
  • Food and Wine Groups There is an increasing interest in food and wine among the affluent, resulting in an explosion of these special-interest clubs.
  • Philanthropic Events and Activities Many charity events that benefit cultural, educational, or medical groups are popular places for meeting affluent consumers.
  • Other Community Groups Join chambers of commerce, world-trade clubs, and other organizations. Small business owners often are affluent consumers themselves, as are entrepreneurs, female executives, and young professionals.

Work on Your Image.

Make sure you project an image that is appropriate to your luxury specialty. Print luxury-specific business cards and brochures in addition to your regular promotional material. For example, if your company is called Paradise Vacations, print cards that say “Paradise Luxury Vacations” to let affluent clients know you want their business and are ready to meet their needs. Use your luxury name in your print advertising as well, whether it’s in magazines or in social media. If you have a budget for promotional items, print your luxury name on items ranging from luggage tags, pens, and calendars to golf balls, passport holders, and cell phone chargers.

You also need a web presence; it is your online storefront and a reflection of your image. Be sure to have a separate page—or an entirely separate website—for your luxury travel specialty. This will differentiate your luxury products from other products you sell, giving affluent travelers the sense that they, too, are different from the average traveler.

Don’t overlook direct mail in your approach. Affluent consumers like to be addressed as individuals. Consider using a personal letter to inform them of a remarkable travel opportunity. Include an immediate call to action while appealing to their discriminating tastes and their need to do something few others know about or can afford.

Finally, when dealing with luxury clients, nothing can replace the more personal means of communication of sitting down with them. Conduct a show-and-tell session. Invite clients to coffee to discuss their latest trip or host an evening with a theme and invite clients and prospects. Your intimate knowledge of—and enthusiasm for—luxury destinations and products will shine when you are meeting with affluent clients face-to-face.

For many more tips on selling to the affluent client, register for the free webinar Hidden Luxury Secret Places, Experiences and Adventures presented on April 10 at 2:00 pm EDT. And don’t forget to enroll in the exciting online Luxury Travel Specialist course!