Your Clients Want To Buy A Fairy Tale
So be a good story teller!

by Vanessa Lee

Caviar on Seabourn Quest.

Exec chef on Seabourn Quest serving us caviar and Champagne.

At The Grill by Thomas Keller.

Inside The Grill.

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an extremely successful client evening at a top Virtuoso agency in Toronto. The reason it worked so well is that it was anything but standard. It was a convivial evening where everyone in attendance got a clear reminder that selling travel is first and foremost about storytelling.

The agency invited three of its preferred suppliers – each with a different emphasis and not all cruise-oriented – and a number of their clients.

The venue was ideal, charming and elegant and with lots of room for everyone to mix and mingle prior, enjoy three presentations of about 15 – 20 minutes each, and then have a chance to meet each of the supplier experts as they enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres.

There were no “giveaways” – that was restricted to giving the clients lots of information and most importantly the gift of showing them more places in the world and more experiences that they could enjoy.

In turn, I sat with each supplier partner and we reviewed videos and slide presentations and discussed topics agreed in advance. It was very “conversational” and the guests appeared to really enjoy the interaction and back and forth. We were story tellers rather than presenters standing in the front of the room running through yet another PowerPoint presentation.

The guests were engaged, the suppliers were delighted and I am sure everyone will reap the rewards of increased bookings. Equally it was an opportunity for travel advisors to spend time with their valued clients. I so believe that “touching” your client, whenever possible, in any way practical, is a positive that will return dividends.

We all have a tendency to do the same kind of thing over and over again and we must stop that practice. Change it up – surprise and delight your clients and share the inside knowledge that sets you apart. Dig down for your own stories – of which we all have many, and share those memories, experiences and thoughts. That’s the secret sauce – along with a different delivery.

Special thanks to my lovely and wonderful client for asking for such an event and to Elana, my go-to event staff member for pulling off all the details. There is nothing more satisfying than sharing stories and ideas with prospective guests who are keen to learn about where they might wish to go next.

A Canada/New England Quest

I am currently sailing on the Seabourn Quest, having joined part of an itinerary sailing from Montreal to Charleston and then onward to the Caribbean. I have never been on a Canada/New England voyage (surprising I know), so am quite looking forward to seeing some of our great Canadian ports as well as those along the American Seaboard. 

Seabourn just very deservedly won the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Award for Best Small Cruise Line, an honour it has won in the past. I have no doubt the addition of the line’s new beauty, the Seabourn Encore, helped it reclaim the number one spot. 

It has been a while since I sailed on an Odyssey Class vessel so I am loving my return to a favoured line and ship.

Highlights so far include casual dinners at the Colonnade, and an outdoor patio grill pizza as we sailed from Sydney to Saint John (a bit nippy) but with blankets and heaters to warm us up. Checking out the new Thomas Keller Grill where Restaurant 2 used to be and of course dining in one of the most beautiful restaurants afloat.  

Seabourn’s attention to detail and the marvellous moments it offers always delight everyone onboard. Caviar and champagne on ice last night -- well, these are just a few of the reasons that the company is at the top of its game. I revel in my time on board such luxury floating vessels and adore the superb and friendly service. And this is where more memories and more storytelling opportunities will be found. 

Vanessa Lee

Vanessa Lee Columnist

An internationally-known luxury cruise expert, Vanessa is publisher and editor of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles magazine. She contributes a column every other Friday for OJ’s Splash News and appears with Nina on the bi-monthly video Cruise Factor.

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