As today’s luxury travellers grow ever more discerning and tastes and trends evolve, so must their holiday services evolve to keep them satisfied and to keep them coming back. Based on luxury travel trends identified by a study from the The Future Laboratories for the International Luxury Travel Market (Dec 2012), here are some tips to help the personal concierge compete with the top corporate brands.
Inside knowledge and local contacts
Simply playing the knowledgeable guide and offering a complementary bottle of wine will not set you apart today. If you’re a personal concierge consistently working from the same regional base, your inside knowledge and local contacts must necessarily be your prime strength. The luxury traveller today spends more on unique experiences than on luxury goods, so you’ll need to be able to offer experiences that are not available elsewhere, and the experiences you offer must be unforgettable. As a local, forge contacts for inside access that external tour operators will not even be aware of. For example, entry into the underground gitana world of Flamenco for private shows, lessons and storytelling; or, truffle hunting with an independent local farmer. Culturally immersive experiences are a big rising trend, so base your insider knowledge around experiences that connect your clients with the people and culture of the region.
Along the same lines, the trend for gastronomic getaways continues to rise, so develop insider access on the culinary front also. You’ll need partnerships with local restaurants, chefs, wineries and other agricultural producers such as olive mills or specialty farms. Don’t just organise dinner reservations, organise a private kitchen session and dinner with the chef. Aim for private tours that include extra insights and activities not normally included, or to places that don’t usually offer tours.
Offer your services before and after
Your concierge service need not only be offered and delivered during a client’s visit. For an advantage over others, offer concierge service that begins with the initial enquiry and continues up to, throughout and even after the journey. A few random bits of information and history ahead of the clients’ travels, or the presentation of various opportunities can do a lot to peak their interest and excitement ahead of the trip. Once they have been and gone, offer to remain available for follow up questions, guidance and tips well after the visit. Social media is also becoming an all important tool and provides the perfect means of maintaining contact and gaining exposure to potential new clients at the same time.
The personal touch
Ultimately, a personal, individualised touch and innovative thinking will get you everywhere. Try to discreetly discover the personal tastes and interests of your clients and their children and surprise them with unexpected gifts or experiences that cater to their whims and passions. Treat them to things they never thought were possible and you’ll have them and their friends returning and returning.
Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.