It is all very well to offer clients the same places time and time again, Rome, Venice, Florence. Sorrento, the usual suspects. Not to say that there is anything wrong with these wonderful places, however, there is still so much which needs to be discovered and enjoyed. So here is why bespoke is so important to us and why as a company, which sells the country, our offer is to provide clients with authenticity, a true experience, an understanding of lo Spirito Italiano, so that when they come back home they will feel as if they have truly discovered the country. We have tried to do this with our new web site www.italian-connection.co.uk
Our Top 10 Version of bespoke
- Honesty. If your clients wish to visit the main cities in the height of summer, let's say August, tell them not to go and if they insist make them fully and I mean fully aware that apart from the heat which is just so unbearable, heading to an art gallery or museum is just exhausting (even though you may feel a little cooler). There is often an Italian city exodus so the streets and some of the places you so much wanted to visit may be closed.
- Inspire clients. Some clients who wish to explore Italy have set ideas in mind. Talk to them, communicate via email, suggest, advise. This may be their first visit and they wish to head to 3 different places in just 4 days. What happened to relaxing? Forget the tours and excursions, I will do it all myself. OK, that is fine but consider spending the day queuing up! I recommend this specific tour as I feel that it would accommodate your specific requirements; have you thought about this and so forth.
- Take advantage of slow travel. It is now the in-word, however, we have been encouraging our clients to take it easy for over 20 years. Spend time seeing the cities or the countryside and allow us to encourage you to do so by adding those little extras, (a welcome basket with local produce and a bottle of wine or Limoncello would not go amiss; fresh flowers or luxury chocolates; luxury toiletries - handmade local soap, aromatics, bath bombs; complimentary printed postcards). Try to avoid the 100 tours where you get to see everything in just a few days. It is possible that your brain could explode! Our everyday pace of life is just so fast and trying to keep up with it can be super exhausting not only physically but psychologically. Slow down, take a holiday and enjoy.
- The bespoke is the unique, it is tailored to your client allowing them and of course advising them to take advantage of your holiday design and advice and to logically take advantage of your expertise. Forget the superficial, the mass tourism, the souvenirs, the spending of lots of money because you are walking the tourist trail, aim for the experience, the authentic, the different. Get away from the selfie and the selfie sticks which not only get in the way of others but everything is not seen and studied with the naked eye but from a lens! Was it really worth going all that way?
- Bespoke comparisons especially for clients where this is not their “first time”. Why not opt for Bologna instead of Florence, Verona instead of Venice, Bari instead of Naples, Liguria instead of the Amalfi Coast, Lucca instead of Siena. Excite your clients with locations which they never would have thought about or known about and there are just so many – Perugia, Gubbio, Pitigliano, Monteriggione, the region of Le Langhe, Varenna, Polignano al Mare, San Miniato, Vieste, Pienza, Castelmezzano, Salina, Siracusa…..and more.
- Understanding. There is so much choice, so very much, but it is all about understanding your client and what they really want. It is important to identify this and on occasions, you may get it wrong but then try again as it may be that your client does not know exactly what they would like and just wish to be guided by you.
- Working to a budget. The world of the package holiday does not work with the bespoke. Try to work to your client's budget where possible. If you are unable to do so, just tell your client. Bespoke is not a mass buy, it is about putting your clients first. Remember that bespoke does not mean expensive, it means choice.
- Be available where possible and answer all your client's questions. Give your clients reasons why you have selected this specific accommodation; recommended that they stay more than 1 night. Ok you may be ignored or you may not make the sale but at least you have been true to yourself and to your expertise.
- Be human (wonderful – I love human!!!!) and that is what bespoke is all about, being there to answer the questions, available when your client rings up without having to spend hours getting to the right person and be aggravated by press 1 to speak to blah and 2 to speak to blah blah and so forth. Create a rapport with your client, what is best for you; do you wish to discuss this by phone; would you prefer email.
- Always being there for your clients while they are away as some of your clients may need you to hold their hand and guide them throughout their trip. They may want you to book the restaurant you recommended; surprise their partner with a bunch of flowers or a private boat or personal shopper for example; they may want you to organise that private tour you recommended but they decided not to take when reviewing their trip, perhaps a train ticket, a boat ride; it could be that the transfer has not arrived or there is a problem with communication. No need to worry you are there, maybe not in person but in other ways. The fact that you are there 24/7 is something which is greatly appreciated. What is nice is when your clients text you to say that they enjoyed their dinner at Saverio's for example or that they loved the guide or that specific art gallery you recommended. A call to say that the wedding you arranged was simply perfect and the hotel staff caring and lovely.
The beauty of bespoke is that there is always someone there to take care of you, not a digital “being” but someone who cares and wants to ensure that it all goes well. Forget superficial tourism and enjoy tourism which is all about experiencing, focusing and connecting.