business

Luxury Vacations Can Be Hard Work

Sebastian Cardarelli gives us a look at an average day selling memberships in Exclusive Resorts, which he joined after obtaining his MBA

I'm a membership director for Exclusive Resorts, a club based in London that provides private luxury residences for travelers. Exclusive Resorts is often confused with a timeshare or fractional ownership arrangement, but it's more like a non-equity golf or social club. Members pay a one-time fee to join and select from a range of annual dues depending upon the number of vacation days they expect to spend in our locations during the year, with days in excess of their plan available on a nightly fee basis. We have a portfolio of 175-plus luxury homes, villas, and suites that we own or have in development in over 30 beautiful destinations around the world.

It's my responsibility to assist new prospects and interested parties in learning more about the nature of our club and, ideally, to sign them up as members. After earning my MBA at SDA Bocconi in Milan, I came to London and worked on a six-month contract in the City. When that ended and I was looking for permanent work, I e-mailed my business school's alumni mailing list and all of my contacts in Europe. Someone suggested I speak with the director of business development at Exclusive Resorts, and I eventually did.

Persistence is a large part of why I got my job. I kept contacting the managing director, tactfully and patiently -- but tenaciously -- until he agreed to sit down with me. After that, I continued to follow up until he set up a meeting for me with the European managing director. This was just for coffee, but I prepared as if it were the final round of CEO interviews with a multinational company. To be a standout candidate, you have to show that you really want the job.

Here is a snapshot of my typical day:

6:30 a.m. -- Wake up and start getting mentally prepared for the day's calls, meetings, demos, and networking. Sales requires you to psych yourself up and visualize being sharp and ready for any type of queries, comments, issues, and concerns that prospects will bring you.

7:15 a.m. -- Out the door to catch the tube to work. The trip takes about 45 minutes, during which time I listen to upbeat music and peruse The Financial Times' business section to learn about those individuals who might be interested in learning more about Exclusive Resorts. Make notes on who to contact.

8 a.m. -- Arrive at the office and check last night's e-mails out of Denver, the company's headquarters, which is seven hours behind London. I also go through my list of sales activities for the day and set priorities on whom to call according to where they live. My first calls of the day are always to Australia, and then I follow the sun and work westward to Europe.

10 a.m. -- Calling Australians is always a great start to the day because they're friendly and considerate, interested in chatting as well as learning more about our club. After the calls down under, I phone Japan, India, and then start on Europe.

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Sebastian Cardarelli can be contacted at sebastian_cardarelli@yahoo.co.uk

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