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What Does a Real Luxury Travel Advisor Do?

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Grasse is known for its perfume industry, in the South of France.

Photo by Gabriela Herman

Grasse is known for its perfume industry, in the South of France.

Another word for the best advisors? Therapists.

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I once connected a good friend of mine with a “luxury travel advisor” to plan a two-week trip to France and a three-week trip to Australia.

I use quotation marks because it ended up being a bad experience. When my friend sent an email asking if her Paris hotel had been confirmed, it took two weeks and two follow-up emails to get a response.

When your advisor is booking hotel rooms that cost $2,000 a night, you expect a timely response, at the very least. But the best advisors know that you want much more. You want to be seen. You want someone to ask the right questions, with empathy, understanding, and maybe a sense of humor. 

I asked a few industry friends what real luxury travel advisors do. 

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“The best luxury travel advisors are one-third psychotherapist, one-third storyteller, and one-third matchmaker. It is very relationship-driven. At first, the advisor is not going to say where and when you should go. We will ask what feeling you want when you get there. Someone might start out by saying they want to go to Paris, but we might steer them in a different direction. Or everybody has a romantic, perfect vision of Bellagio on Lake Como in the summer. But a great advisor will say, no, you want to go in early October when you won’t have the crowds. First, we need to find out their vision, then have the expertise to push back, paint a new picture, and tell a different story. We also need to have the product knowledge, expertise, experience, and relationships to execute the mission.” 
Josh Bush, Avenue Two Travel 

“A bad advisor, in my opinion, is defined by a lack of passion. They are only interested in the transaction, which is the last thought on my mind. I travel constantly and always look for new places, people, and things to show my clients. I’m also only interested in people that I’m proud to send as ambassadors of my brand, country, and the industry. This means there is a smaller percentage of clients versus the general population.” 
William Kiburz, Coronet Travel 

“I carefully select my team to include travel advisors who are smart, well-traveled, available 24/7, and have an uncanny knack for anticipating the needs of a traveler. We wear a lot of hats. Sometimes we must be lawyers, sometimes diplomats, sometimes therapists. Mostly, we need to be good communicators, so we understand exactly what the client wants and can thoroughly explain the options.” 
Jody Bear, Bear & Bear Travel 

“Great travel advisors have a complete understanding of their clients. How can one advise without knowing the client’s history, just like a great doctor? 
Michael Holtz, SmartFlyer 

“A good advisor answers their clients’ questions in a timely fashion. A great advisor anticipates and answers their questions before they are even asked.” 
Kristen Pike, KK Travels Worldwide 

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