The Human Touch
Exclusive Resorts’ tangible differentiator in today’s saturated travel industry? Its people. Here, Members, on-site Concierges, and Vacation Ambassadors give first-hand accounts of elevated service.
When Vacation Ambassador Michelle Bokone learned an Exclusive Resorts Member she had worked with for six years unexpectedly needed a heart transplant, she bought a heart-shaped cookie jar and customized it to his family name. The entire Exclusive Resorts team was so inspired by her actions that every employee filled it with notes of encouragement. “I really wanted him and his family to know we were thinking of him,” Bokone says. “I’m now getting ready to send his family on their first trip since his doctor cleared him to travel.”
Club Members will likely always want to travel, given The Club’s Vacation Collection of luxury villas and residences in coveted locales, yet it’s the unique human factor that has fast become the most compelling reason to stay involved. Exclusive Resorts’ bespoke “service” is ultimately defined by one-to-one relationships with each Member, which are completely unique to every family and nurtured in distinct ways. Via this relationship-based service, Members are taking their valuable time and choosing to not only spend it, but have it planned and organized by The Club. Ambassadors and Concierges are responsible for making each vacation easy and thoughtfully executed, while doing it all intuitively.
As such, Michelle Bokone is one of only a handful of Club team members to receive a Platinum Designation. Earlier this year, The Club rallied behind the Platinum Rule. One step beyond hospitality’s signature Golden Rule—treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves—this new edict strives to deliver a truly superior level of personalized service, and to treat others how they’d want to be treated, knowing what will make Members happy and then going the extra mile to curate something special for them.
For example, when a Member was traveling to Tuscany and asked the Concierge to find his study abroad host mother he had lost contact with 35 years ago, she didn’t hesitate to put on her detective hat, track her down, and arrange a reunion.
Inspired by stories like this, Jay Wong, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience for Exclusive Resorts, developed the Platinum Challenge, a call to action for employees to go above and beyond their job skills when delivering service.
“That personalization is what elevates us beyond extraordinary,” he says. An authentic personal connection with our Members is the epitome of how Exclusive Resorts does business, adds Wong. “Airbnb Luxe and Four Seasons can’t do that,” he says. “When you’re an Exclusive Resorts Member, you are part of our family.”
“We’ve been Members two years, and right from the start could tell our Ambassador, Emmy Hermes, was genuinely listening to us as a family,” says Lisa Reber. When Reber first joined, she says she was overwhelmed by The Club’s vast Portfolio of five-star vacation options. But Hermes patiently went through detailed explanations of residence configurations and highlighted destinations that offered activities and experiences the family enjoyed, explained what each destination offers in the various seasons, and further detailed specific resort access.
“Exclusive Resorts’ properties are incredible, but it’s Emmy’s service, sincerity, organization, and bubbly personality that have very much been a part of making our trips special,” says Reber. “She’s invested in our family and we can tell. She recently helped us secure last-minute stays in London and Paris this summer. Being unfamiliar with the properties, she walked us through the location options and chose those she knew had the best service, amenities, and embraced the city. Although summer is an incredibly busy season for Ambassadors, Emmy kept her eye on cancellations and changes in both popular cities and managed to upgrade us to a larger residence for our stay—something we would not have had visibility into. She knew it was our first Europe trip as a family and wanted it to be as best as it could be.”
In an era of online bookings and virtual concierges, Exclusive Resorts’ human touch and personalized service sets it apart from any other travel brand. What’s more, The Club’s Ambassadors and Concierges watch Club families grow up, often planning for their young kids’ activities at various resorts, and then eventually arranging for engagements or weddings for those same Member children. Milestone moments including 50th birthdays and college graduations are also in continual demand—adding to The Club’s intimate and meaningful connection to its Members. And with many Vacation Collection destinations enticing repeated return trips, fostering tradition may just be the secret sauce of truly intuitive service.
Delighting in the Details
“I love how my job allows me to have personal relationships with people. It’s the small, thoughtful touches that people really appreciate. One Member was throwing a Western-themed bachelorette party, so I ordered them packs of straw cowboy hats with red and blue piping and attached a veil to one of them and bought matching neck handkerchiefs. If it’s Christmas and I know the family celebrates, I buy a petite live tree at Whole Foods and put together a gift bag of assorted decorations so they can deck the tree as a family. When I realized it was a Member’s son’s first ski day, I threw an end-of-day celebration with hot chocolate and s’mores to acknowledge the occasion.”
—Mia Keller, Lead Concierge at Ironwood in Deer Valley, UT
Like Family: The Member-Ambassador Connection
“I was actually the first person who knew Member Phil Bodem was planning to propose to his wife, Jenny. He told me he wanted to propose during their trip to Vail, so I suggested a couple of ideas and locations where he could pop the question. He decided to ask Jenny during a snowmobile tour. We had become friends over the years, so I was also invited to come along and packed a bottle of champagne in my backpack so we could celebrate afterwards. It was probably zero degrees that day, but we went anyway. I had also arranged for one of my photographer friends to come along—Jenny thought he was employed by the snowmobile company. We captured the moment on video and in photos and enjoyed a chilled glass of champagne after she said yes. She was completely surprised.”
—Rob Layton, Vacation Ambassador
The Rimel Family visits the Big Island, Hawaii
Like Family: Milestone Moments
“Randy Green was in Vail for his daughter’s wedding last winter. As is the norm with weddings, there were a lot of details that needed to be covered. He was so nervous about the aisle runner arriving for the ceremony that he actually carried it on the plane to make sure it got there safely. Saturday came around and the Green party was in the Vail Chapel for the ceremony, set to start at 5:30 p.m. Randy rang me in my office at 5:15 p.m. He had forgotten the aisle runner in his residence closet. I hustled across Arrabelle Square, grabbed the runner, jumped in my vehicle and pulled up to the Chapel at 5:25 p.m., much to the delight of Mr. Green and the wedding coordinator.”
—Gregory Ciluzzi, Regional Residence Manager
“We had an amazing experience with outstanding service from our Ambassador Jason when we were on the Big Island in Hawaii. I was staying with some girlfriends, and my husband was flying in to join me. But due to my friend’s medical issue, they had to leave earlier than expected. We were left with no accommodations. After our planned time on the Big Island we were scheduled to travel on to the new Club residence in Kaua’i, but in the meantime, we were stranded! It was such a busy time, and most everything on the Big Island was booked. I first tried to secure accommodations on my own, even trying to get into the Kaua’i property early, but everything was sold out. In desperation I called Jason to ask if there was anything he could do. Exclusive Resorts’ new Hale Ho’okipa residences were not quite open for use yet on the Big Island, but Jason worked his magic and was able to get approval for us to stay at Hale Ho’okipa—an amazing new four-bedroom residence. It was perfect—such a beautiful stay and experience. In addition, the service by the on-site Concierge was outstanding. Now we’re already booked to go back next year with friends.”
—Jerilyn Rimel, Member since 2007