When you are hit with life-disrupting events, you will never be the same again. You either cope or you crumble; you become better or bitter; you emerge stronger or weaker. - Al Siebert
The Chief and I hope you, your family and friends are well. Our hearts go out to those who suffered a personal loss or face other challenges during this global pandemic.
Normally during this time of the year, Angelique and I are traversing across North America to participate in dynamic in-person agency visits and tradeshows, while working to add new properties to the Wanderlux Collection. Like many of you in the U.S., our high-flying plans have been grounded. We’re under “shelter in place” orders here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
So, what are these home-based wanderers doing instead? We’re reaching out to our travel advisor partners across North America. With every hello and check-in phone call, our respect for your resiliency and positivity grows.
Economically, the global pandemic’s impact on the travel industry is indescribable. We are encouraged by the advisors who continue to rebook travelers for later this year versus canceling. Based on those conversations, we worked with our properties to implement rebooking incentives for travelers to preserve advisor commissions in 2020.
Stayed tuned for additional agency and advisor incentives for select properties in the Wanderlux Collection. We are in this together, and we are committed to partnering with you to weather this storm and emerge stronger.
As always, if there’s any way that we can assist you, please contact us.
Until our paths meet again in person, stay safe and be well.
The Executive Wanderer
This month we are excited to kick off a new series at Wanderlux Collection (WLC) - #Guest-Wanderer! Intended to provide additional perspective/insight other than our own, this series will feature luxury travel advisors and partners presenting their points of view: on current events, advice for newbies and veterans alike, as well as personal travel stories. Our inaugural #Guest-Wanderer is Esther Klijn from CIRE Travel in NYC. Thank you, Esther! @ciretravel @estherklijn
WLC: Why did you become a luxury travel advisor?
Esther: I graduated from college with a BS in Wine and Viticulture in California and I knew I wanted to live in New York City. I always enjoyed travel but never thought I could turn it into a career. My roommate’s mother is an independent contractor at Tzell and the only adult I knew in New York. She introduced me to the co-president at Tzell who introduced me to the owner of CIRE Travel, Eric Hrubant. Eric doesn’t hire travel agents; he hires smart businesspeople with chutzpah. He asked me marketing and customer service questions and hired me on the spot. While I fell into the industry by accident, I cannot imagine doing anything else. Being able to work with like-minded people each day and talk about dream destinations is nearly unbelievable; from the clients, to the partners, to my colleagues, nothing gets me more excited and out of bed on Monday.
WLC: What advice do you have for new travel advisors?
Esther: Meet everyone! You will excel if you know everyone and everyone knows you. Follow-up, send thank you notes, reach out, be visible.
WLC: How do you get most of your clients?
Esther: We get a lot of clients through referrals, happy honeymooners who refer other newly engaged couples our way. CIRE Travel also does a lot of corporate travel planning and sometimes those clients ask for help with their vacations, too. And finally, the web. We have great reviews on Google, Facebook, and The Knot, so when people are looking for a travel advisor, they see our great reviews and reach out.
WLC: What trends do you see in the upcoming year?
Esther: In light of the occurrences with Covid-19, I think it’s wise for advisors to anticipate which destinations got a handle on the virus quickly and efficiently or were virtually untouched. I speculate that those destinations will be where people want to go first. I also anticipate a lot of domestic travel for the US traveler as going far from home may be a bit more daunting than it already was.
WLC: What is the one item you cannot travel without?
Esther: After trying various neck pillows, I stumbled upon the ridiculous looking Trtl brand that is unbeatable. Got me through the true middle of middle seats on an 11-hour flight from Istanbul to New York.
WLC: What is you dream vacation?
Esther: I’d like to take my 10 best friends to Sicily for 10 days. We’d rent vintage Fiats and drive around the whole island! Perhaps tack on a few extra nights in Malta on the end.
WLC: What is the wildest thing you have experienced while traveling?
Esther: We were leaving the anti-poaching unit on our final evening on safari. This was my first time to Zimbabwe and first experience on safari. We pulled out of the trees and came upon a sundowner set up by the lodge. While we were drinking and chatting away, we heard sticks snapping behind us. A massive herd of water buffalo were staring at us as if we owed them money. We sat between them and their watering hole, so we grabbed our chairs and moved a couple feet back. They trotted along for their evening drink.
At this point the sun was finally set. One vehicle headed back to the lodge and the second dallied a bit—I’m very glad we did. Out from behind the tall grass come two lionesses, stalking the water buffalo. The herd took off and gathered the calves in the center. We lost sight of one lioness but noticed two adult and two baby elephants emerge from the same tall grass. We did not know what to focus on! At one point the lions retreated to the edge of the watering hole, the herd continued on their way, and the elephants disappeared back through the grass.
The whole time, there was a hippo in the watering hole who I imagine was very annoyed by the disruption of his peaceful evening.
Esther thank you so much for taking the time to let us get to know you. We love hearing how others can create success within this industry that we adore, and the unique experiences we all have while traveling! Until next time Wanderers!