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Travel consultants need ‘skills of a psychologist’

April addresses Abta Luxury conference
April addresses Abta Luxury conference

Luxury travel consultants must have “the subtle skills of a psychologist” when it comes to deducing clients’ travel needs.

Speaking at Abta’s first Luxury Travel Conference last week Philippe Brown, founder of bespoke travel designer Brown + Hudson, revealed his London-based company uses professional psychologists to help formulate the right questions to ask clients as part of its pre-trip planning process, assisting with the curation of itineraries.

He also said agents should consider how best to market their services in order to be considered as important as “a legal or financial adviser” to their clients. “We can ask better questions of our clients to get deeper into the psyche,” he said of the use of psychologists.

“[Affluent travellers] have beautifully crafted possessions, so we should be offering the same beautifully crafted experiences.”

“If you do this right, you will make your customer a hero to their family and if you do it right all of the time, you’ll be a hero to them too.

“Product and destination is important but [the needs of the customer] are so much more, and understanding their values is a good place to start,” he added.

“Information is out there [online] but we need to get closer to the consumer.”

Brown further argued that those selling luxury holidays should consider their services to be as important as other professions such as lawyers, accountants and tailors.

He stressed that agents should not be content with wealthy consumers merely “throwing business our way once in a while”.

“Get into those realms, go to the office, go to their home,” he said. “If you do it well, you’ll become one of the family and serve several generations as a tailor would.”

He explained to delegates how Brown + Hudson worked on retainer for several clients – which he said other travel businesses should also consider.

“At the very least, you should be charging clients a fee for each time you work with them,” he said.

“Get closer, ask better questions and deliver bespoke 2.0,” Brown concluded.

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