Company travel policies don’t always fit the needs of senior executives. Their busy, complicated lifestyles create different expectations and demand a much deeper level of understanding. Their needs can also change suddenly, and this requires a different level of support to that provided by most TMCs. Time is money and every second counts.
Most people associate arranging travel for elite clients with movie stars or music industry moguls. In fact the bulk of VIP clients fall into the “corporate celebrity” category – CEOs who are at the pinnacle of their career, or the top partner in a city law firm, for example.
Attention to detail is vital – if you are booking a trip to the US for a VIP, it’s not just about booking the client’s favourite airline seat, it’s about making sure he or she stays in their favourite hotel room, and enjoys their favourite dish cooked exactly the way they want it, when they want it.
Never assume one trip is the same as the next and be prepared to go the extra mile – it’s definitely not a nine to five job. Organising a private jet at the last minute so that a major contract can be signed over international airspace takes a special kind of skillset.
It’s also important to get to know your client exceptionally well, especially their PAs and Executive Assistants, to really understand their personal needs and idiosyncrasies. Try to put yourself in their position and imagine exactly what they expect when they travel.
Looking after the business travel needs of corporate celebs often spills over into their private leisure travel. These elite clients are used to a bespoke service when they travel on business, and they expect the same when travelling as private clients with their families. Relationship building lies at the heart of arranging private travel because so many individuals are involved in the booking process – work and home PAs, house managers, wives, ex-wives and offspring. Understanding the dynamics and needs of each one, thinking outside the box, and tailoring journeys to suit each client’s lifestyle is the key to success.
This post was written by Alison Brown, Head of Elite & Private Clients at Chambers Travel Group. www.chamberstravel.com/elite-private-clients