Travel Agent Interview Blog

TRANSCRIPT: Luxury Travel For the Discreet Affluent Traveler with Lauren Liebert

TRANSCRIPT: Luxury Travel For the Discreet Affluent Traveler with Lauren Liebert

Monday, June 19th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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[LISTEN TO EPISODE HERE](http://travelagentinterview.com/7)

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Megan Chapa:  Hello, and welcome to the Travel Agent Interview I'm your host Megan Chapa and I'm privileged to have Lauren Liebert on as my guest today.  Welcome Lauren. 

Lauren Liebert:  Thank you for having me Megan.

Megan Chapa:  Of course, Lauren we always start off with a gadget or technology segment, because I love them, and they're so handy and fun, and some of them are really useful.  Today you have a useful one for us that is making me laugh because I'm on their app site right now.  It is called “Carrr Matey” like a pirate.  Lauren, tell us a little bit about this app.

Lauren Liebert:  I really like this app, I first got it just for my own personal use, and then I realized, this is a great app to give to my clients, especially if their traveling and they rent a rental car, maybe in Hawaii or throughout the US, or even in Europe, You know you are used to looking for your own car, not a car that you don’t remember the color of or it looks like every other car in the parking lot.  It’s truly a cute, humorous app, allows you to “drop anchor” when you get out of your car, so you know where it is.  Go off and do your shopping or do your touring and then when you’re ready to go and find your car - you say, “Find my car.”  Then You follow the little treasure map, so you never lose it.

Megan Chapa:  I like it because my husband and I do this, we take pictures of the car, we take pictures of the sign at the parking garage where we parked the car… if we remember.  But, the problems is that we forget.  I like that this has, this pirate theme going on, because it makes it a little fun, so that you want to do it.

Lauren Liebert:  Yes, and I love the whole pirate map, so like what will I get at the end of the map.  It’s been received very well by clients.

Megan Chapa:  It also gives you the option to send your location through an email or message and the reviews are great, thanks for this piece of technology Lauren, I think I will personally use this in the future.

Lauren Liebert:  Enjoy, have fun.

Megan Chapa:  Thank you.  Well Lauren let’s talk about you to the star of our show, would you take a moment to tell us about yourself and how you got to the travel industry?

Lauren Liebert:  Absolutely, I live here in Mountain View which is part of Silicon Valley in California.  How I got into this industry was back in the early 2000s, my mother in law was a travel agent.  I was working for a law firm as a legal administrator, paralegal.  I just decided she was having way too much fun.  There was a local college program with a two year program that I could join and I didn’t tell anybody.  I didn’t tell her because I was mortified, what if she finds out and I would hurt her feelings.  She’s about to loose me as a client, how am I going to break this to her and for two years I went to school.  I remember one thanks giving when we were in town, I literally sat there trying to explain to her what I have done and I have at that point joined Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com).  She was so excited that she finally had somebody else in the family who, have the passion for travel that she did.  Actually how I got started was, my business plan was to do honeymoons.  I figured if I start with my clients at the beginning stage of their lives, and do their honeymoon and do great job with them.  They’ll come back to me year after year.  As they start a family, I'll get to do their family travel.  This business model actually has worked very well for me, and now I also do multi generational travel.  My background and my passion for travel, it’s really just giving service to the clients that really makes me get up every day and do what I do.

Megan Chapa:  Speaking of service, I've seen on several travel publications in some websites that you are the recipient of awards for your industry.  You don’t get those by being a slouch, can you tell us about the awards and what you won those for?

Lauren Liebert:  Thank you, I am quite proud.  The first one I received was from Travel Age West, which is a trade, in it travel trade, a magazine that puts on an award every year probably big trend setters.  I was a recipient of an award for a group booking efforts, and it was a national destination wedding in Italy, and that actually, I will talk about a little bit later.  It was quite the adventure that the plan for a year.  To follow up that award, I also received an award from ASTA.  ASTA stands for American Society in Travel Agents, which is a leading organization to be a member of and they hold ethics in high regard.  It’s not just any random, travel agent to be a member of that.  I earned their award which was the, “Extra Mile” award for planning that trip.

Megan Chapa:  Nice, congratulations.

Lauren Liebert:  Thank you, I'm very proud.

Megan Chapa:  You should be, it’s great, can you tell us a little bit about the specific area of travel that you specialize in?

Lauren Liebert:  Sure, I specialize in luxury group and family travel, and the family travel is actually risen especially in the group arena because of multi generational travel.  When grandparents are involved, they definitely want to make sure everybody has a great experience.  Living here in Silicon Valley I have great access to a lot of high end executives in the tech field.  I work with their executive assistants and their estate managers.  To plan a very nice and very well earned and deserved luxury trips that they want.

Megan Chapa:  That sounds really nice, I hope I can go on those trips someday too!

Lauren Liebert:  That’s part of our job, because I think planning to travel, I always want to go on each and every trip I plan.

Megan Chapa:  Lauren can you tell us a great success story, a funny story, or a situation that went slightly wrong, but that you were able to triumph and for your clients.

Lauren Liebert:  I'm going to actually talk about a two trips.  One being a luxury group trip, and the other one was also a group trip, I had some hurdles I had to get through.  Let’s start with the first one which I still is near and dear to my heart.  The trip I won the two awards for.  I have a long time Silicon Valley clients that finally got engaged in 2013, they are married 2014.  They decided to do a destination wedding.  

When I met with the bride, she said, “Well we want to be near the water.”  

I know this clients, they're not tropical clients, and I am said, “You can't go to the islands, we can't do that.” 

She said, “No, no, no, we want to go Venice.”  And the moment she said that I know exactly where they are going to get married. 

I said, “You are going to get married at the Hotel Cipriani.” 

And she is like, “Why do you suggest that so quick without doing some research?”  

I'm, “Because it is the best 5 star hotel in Venice and actually it’s on its own private island over looking Venice and St. Mark’s Square, which is where you will have your ceremony, with the backdrop of St. Mark’s Square.”  I am happy to tell you that it is exactly what they did!

Megan Chapa:  It sounds wonderful!

Lauren Liebert:  They wanted to limit it and they could very intimate affair and we had 25 guests total.  Well 25 and a quarter, because they includes their miniature poodle that went with them as well.

Megan Chapa:  Wonderful.

Lauren Liebert:  It was a yearlong planning and with 25 people coming in from different parts of the country, and they were going to pay for everything for their guests.  All the guest has to do is pay for the airfare to get there, and it was a four day weekend extravaganza in Venice.  Most people going all the way to Europe are not going to Europe for four days.  When I worked with each one of this guest we worked in their vacations around the wedding.  People were either coming, the bride’s family decided to do a Greek island cruise prior to the wedding.  A few others decided to do land tours.  I had people coming in from air, boats, car, rail, that’s where the group planning really comes in to play, is that the professional, I handled that for everybody, and the bride and groom didn’t have to worry on how everybody was going to get to the island.

Megan Chapa:  They just had to get married…that’s wonderful.

Lauren Liebert:  All they had to do is worry about getting married and the reception.  We had private transfers from picking them up from all of the different spots, private transfers showing them all off as well.  One of the highlights of the four day extravaganza, if I refer to it, was the cocktail party before they went off to the opera.  One of the lunch meetings I had with the bride, she handed me this piece of paper, and I said “you’ve got to be kidding me, this does not exist.”  

She said, “I want you to make it happen.”  What was it?  It was a pirate ship.

Megan Chapa:  Perfect, this is a very pirate themed Podcast, nice.

Lauren Liebert:  That is true, I didn’t think about that.  There's a pirate ship that sails the Grand Canal in Venice.  It comes with a Johnny Depp look alike and all.  They wanted their three hour cocktail party on this pirate ship.  Then they added caveat where they wanted to keep it a surprise from their guests.  I have to arrange hiding the pirate ship.

Megan Chapa:  (LOLING) Lauren this is awesome!

Lauren Liebert:  I will tell you we hid it, on the back side of the island and we had them smoking their cannons, so it had it all in the smoke, so when the guest were walking towards the ship, they had no idea till the smoke dissipated, what was they were about to embark on.

Megan Chapa:  That’s so cool.

Lauren Liebert:  They even brought their guest, they put together booty bags the B-O-O-T-Y, the pirate booty.  They customized little gadgets and costume items for the guest to wear, from the pirate hats, to a bird, a fake bird sitting on the bride’s father’s shoulder, swords, plastic swords, little hooks, where you can hold your wine, it was great.  Where it got a little tricky was, because we were planning this a year ahead of time, I realize about a month before the wedding that George Clooney finally decided he was going to get married, and where was he going to get married?  In Venice, and all of his guest were staying at hotel Cipriani.  His wedding was four days after my client’s…

Megan Chapa:  Did everyone get rooms?

Lauren Liebert:  Everybody got a rooms, I was really concerned that the hotel was not going to focus on my clients, and focus on the preparation for George Clooney and Amal Clooney but I was assured that one had nothing to do with the other, and my clients were equally as important.  I'm happy to report, they were.

Megan Chapa:  Good.  Good review for that hotel.

Lauren Liebert:  Absolutely, highly recommended to anybody, give me a call and we’ll talk more about!  I have a second story with luxury clients that is a hurdle that I have to overcome.  I'm really in the grove with these clients now so it's not a problem on my end.  But it is when I have to book into different places around the world.  They are very private people… they don’t want necessarily their names to be on the bookings at the rooms that their staying at the hotels.  Which makes it hard because they want certain luxury amenities and services, but I can't disclose their names, I book everything under their state manager’s name.  Obviously once they get on property then it can be revealed, but they want everything to be anonymous.  
This could be a problem, and it was last year for Chinese New Year, they want to go to Las Vegas and they wanted to stay at the Wynn.  They wanted to go to this exclusive Chinese New Year party, which they told me, it's not available unless you are casino rated.  I can't divulge my client’s name, and I know he is casino rated, because I know who I'm dealing with, I finally said, I know that you guys have facial recognition software.  When my client gets on property, you will scan him and you will know that he is rated at Macau property.  Once you do that, please get them to this exclusive party.  I'm happy to report, that was not a problem.

Megan Chapa:  That was clever Lauren; that was really good.

Lauren Liebert:  That’s the things that you have to do for clients, really is just adhere to, what their needs and their wants, and just make them comfortable and build a relationship.  That’s what I do in my clients, I build their relationships and that’s why, they come back to me all the time.  I protect that secret that they want to keep.

Megan Chapa:  Well and that’s a big part of working with the travel agent, is that you have to be a trusted adviser, you just have to be able to maintain that level of trust and you can't break it and it looks like you’ve done a good job maintaining that, good Lauren.

Lauren Liebert:  Thank you.

Megan Chapa:  Let's talk about a memorable meal or a best meal that you’ve had domestically or internationally.

Lauren Liebert:  I'm going international here, I know at glitzy and glamorous as some people may think, it was just divine.  I was in Italy and I was doing a Mediterranean cruise for 14 days and whatever stops was to go to Naples and Sorento.  We decided to just explore on our own, because were travel agents, we know it all.  We decided to start walking the streets of Naples to look for one particular pizzeria that was in the book and the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.”  The name of it was “Pizzeria De Michele” and eventually after running through some neighborhoods that we shouldn’t have been in and running into some police officers that were not happy that we were running around the streets by ourselves.  They were very kind and direct us exactly where we needed to go.  We showed up there, and I have never had pizza like I've had in Naples…

It was the most amazing pizza, and it was just basic, it was a basic margarita, nothing fancy on it.  Nobody talks because we just couldn’t believe how wonderful it was.

Megan Chapa:  Lauren I tell you what, we have had three or four guests now that have all said their favorite meal was in Italy.  They all started off by saying, “Hey, it was nothing fancy, but it was just cooked to perfection.”  I think that we are inadvertently pumping some sales to Italy here.

[Crosstalk]

Lauren Liebert:  I have some clients in Italy right now and I said to them, “I want you to eat pizza and gelato.  Keep eating pizza and gelato throughout your entire trip, and remember, there is no such thing as getting wide on vacation.”

Megan Chapa:  I was going to say, “…As long as they are doing some walking to get there!”

Lauren Liebert:  I will say that I’ve been getting a lot of pictures from the clients and every other picture is them walking down some coble stone street holding a gelato and ice cream cone.

Megan Chapa:  Beautiful, wonderful.  Well, Lauren I thank you for being on the Travel Agent Interview Podcast, were going to wrap the show up in a second.  Is there anything that you would like to say to the clients that we haven’t covered or squeezed in?

Lauren Liebert:  I think for clients, just realize, you work hard all year for your vacation, contact a travel professional, it's what we do every day.  You plan it maybe once a year, we plan it every day.  Our goal is to make sure that you have the best trip possible.  Because if you don’t have a great trip, I didn’t do my job.

Megan Chapa:  Thank you Lauren so much for being on the show, if you guys want to be in contact with Lauren, you can find her contact information on the guest tab of the travelagentinterview.com and I will put links to her gadget or her technology which is Carrr Matey.  I’ll put links to her website and to her Facebook page and how you can contact her.  Thanks everyone this is Megan Chapa your host, saying good night.

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Host Megan Chapa info@travelagentinterview.com