For the past two days I have been fortunate enough to attend The Affluent Traveler Collection Symposium and, not surprisingly, the focus is on selling to luxury travelers. We have gained incredible insights from people who are succeeding in this business including leadership from Abercrombie & Kent, Azamara Club Cruises, Insight Vacations, Seabourn, Silversea and many more.

First, let’s define affluent travel clients. These are people with a household income of at least $250,000 and at least $1 million in liquid assets. These aren’t just older travelers! There are affluent travelers in every single demographic! The common theme is that they are all looking for experiences that are memorable, unique, and engaging.

Several speakers talked about something I have always believed strongly in: the importance of asking questions. Think about it: Your ability to assist the client is directly tied to how well you KNOW the client. If you haven’t asked them about what’s important to them, how are you going to craft a trip for them?

Ask open-ended questions that will give the client a chance to reveal their hopes and dreams for this trip. But you have to do something too (two things actually): Stop talking and listen. Really listen. Listen to hear not only what they are saying, but HOW they are saying it. You can tell when clients are excited about something – what is that they are excited about? And listen for what they aren’t saying. Ask more questions based on what you learned.

But another important part of working with affluent travelers is looking and acting the part. You don’t have to be a millionaire to work with millionaires, but are you comfortable working with them? Do you look the part? Does everything you do speak to this audience? Look at branding for some top premium brands – what do they have in common? Those brands have incredible marketing people who understand WHO their target demographic is and WHAT they respond to. That’s one of the reason is so critical that you not DIY your branding. You don’t have to hire a huge marketing agency, but you do need to make sure EVERYTHING you send out speaks to your target demographic. Does it look like a brand they are accustomed to dealing with? Do YOU look like someone they are used to dealing with? No, it shouldn’t matter what you look like, but it does.

And don’t forget that how you appear to the client is in large part digital. Your social media, website, emails and all other digital communication platforms speak for what you represent. If you are promoting Silversea one week and Carnival the next, you’re giving out mixed messages and confusing your potential clients.

One of the BIGGEST mistakes I see agents make is to sell from their own pocket. Just because you cannot afford to do the trip they are considering, doesn’t mean they can’t and you shouldn’t be hesitant about the cost. Maybe you wouldn’t spend $129,000 per person to do a round-the-world trip in a private plane with A&K doesn’t mean your client wouldn’t and it doesn’t mean you can’t sell it.

When you really get down to it, you are actually a matchmaker. You can’t personally deliver all the services the clients need, but you can be the interpreter to listen to what they want and find the perfect partner who can deliver it. It’s about understanding what is important to the client and matching them with the right vendor. To do that you need to understand what the options are and you cannot be hesitant to recommend them! But don’t make the mistake of only recommending what you’ve experienced. Sure, that helps a great deal but you can’t do everything or you wouldn’t have time to work with clients.

The great news is that affluent travelers really appreciate the knowledge and expertise a skilled travel agent offers them. They tend to be very loyal and will refer their friends to you if you do a great job for them. I hope these tips help you be more successful working with these clients!