Jean Newman Glock of JNG Worldwide

When it comes to luxury travel, Jean Newman Glock of JNG Worldwide seems to have connections in all the right places. Whether it’s getting her clients on a private behind-the-scenes tour of Le Chateau Versailles or arranging a consultation with leading art experts in Beijing, Jean has insider knowledge. (Update: Please note that Jean no longer books travel. She is focussing on sharing her experiences on all media.)

Recently praised by leading travel magazines such as Travel & Leisure and Luxury Travel Advisors, Jean Newman Glock started her career at the Smithsonian Institution. Assisting with the booking of nearly 200 trips a year for over 17 years, it comes to no surprise that Jean knows the ins-and-outs of luxury travel.

Before spending countless hours trying to book your next trip on Expedia or Kayak, read on to see what a luxury travel expert like Jean Newman Glock has to say. Contacting her for insider knowledge might simply be a better solution to guarantee an incredible holiday. So what does a travel expert have to say, read on below.

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After managing the Smithsonian Institution’s International Tours and Cruises for 17 years, what motivated you to leave and start your own travel consultant agency?

My time at the Smithsonian was fantastic and I was fortunate to be able to travel to the ends of the earth—many times over and with the finest experts in the world. The decision to leave was hard, but I wanted to enter the retail world of travel to use social media to share my destination knowledge with clients and suppliers.

Very close friends of mine, Cathy and George Hagle, own Connoisseur Travel, a leading full service Travel Agency in Washington, DC and they kindly invited me to join them and their fabulous team. That made the transition from nonprofit travel to retail travel easy and fun. After a year, I decided to open my own company, JNG Worldwide which focusses on travel writing and consulting for the travel industry.

You were recently featured in the 2013 A-List of Travel Agents by Travel & Leisure as someone who has “a little black book of door-opening contacts”. Tell us about the people in your book.

That’s my secret! Really they are some of the finest experts in the world from all disciplines. But they include Ministers of Antiquities and Tourism in many countries, several curators at Versailles and the Hermitage, Archaeologists leading digs around the world, top naturalists, an expert on the history of gastronomy in Paris, the Louvre curator of decorative arts, the head of the Petra National Trust, noted authors on the Tudors, English history and so many more.

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When it comes to luxury travel, every consultant has their own expertise. What is your personal niche of knowledge?

I think it might be easier to say those areas that are not my specialty. I have never been to Hawaii-but have been to Easter Island many times. In fact, I am very weak on almost anywhere in the U.S.-a problem I hope to rectify over the next few years. My portfolio at the Smithsonian was all the International tours (Over 300 yearly) and International Student travel. My Master’s from Georgetown was an MSFS in International Economics with a Middle East focus and I attended college in Lugano, Switzerland, so I really need to up my game on my home country.

For cruising, I was fortunate to work with charters on almost all the luxury cruise lines—Seabourn, Crystal, Silversea and Regent, so I know those lines well. One of my very favorite cruises we did was a charter around the Arabian Gulf on Silverseas. While I love the destination, what made this spectacular were the study leaders—former Secretary of State James Baker and former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry.

With so many travel booking engines and online city guides, what makes your clients return to you for advice every time? Clients (both travelers and suppliers) come to me and JNG Worldwide because my experience is truly unique in the travel industry. Through my work with the Smithsonian and subsequently, I have worked with the finest tour operators, ships and hotels around the world to perfect trips for high level, discriminating clientele (individuals and small groups) and offer true insiders access to perfect the experience or tell the story to sell the destination.

With over 70, 000 followers on Twitter, you are clearly influential in luxury travel. Who would you say contacts you the most using social media, travelers or luxury brands?

Good question. I would say the split is about 70% suppliers and 30% clients. But the clients are closely watching my interactions with suppliers. Often, after exchanging tweets about a particular destination, hotel or ship, a client contacts me to learn more and find out if I have personally seen the destination or been on the ship. Many of these clients may then go and book direct with the cruise line or hotel but that is the nature of social media. I feel strongly that promoting travel and tourism helps us all and my favorite adage is “All Ships Rise”.

Do you consider social media to be a key factor of your success?

Absolutely, 100% and without question. My one question for anyone debating whether they should be on social media or the ROI of their time and money is “Can you really afford not to be visible on social media in 2013?” Particularly for travel, there is no better way to highlight your expertise, share your experiences and learn from others than on the many social media platforms. I am finding that the exceptional travel consultants I have met are anxious to share their experience and expertise on all media, including social media.

What tips would you give to someone who wants to become a social media influencer?

Interestingly, I am working with several destinations, suppliers and other travel consultants to up their social media profile. I had not anticipated these requests when I left the world of nonprofit travel. The most essential attributes for all social media is to be authentic, honest and work to build relationships not numbers.

Additionally it is important separate customer service on social media (essential but not my focus) from developing your own voice and your own expertise. Choose the platforms, (Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus) that serve your market the best and focus on just a few.

In the rapidly changing world of social media, these choices may/will change and may change quickly so keep up with the news and statistics. At the moment for travel, I prefer Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with some Facebook. All of these tie back to my blog on my website where I can go into more detail for those who are interested.

The one article I have written for the Huffington Post that seemed to resonate the most with my readers and continues to swirl around social media is “ A Year of Tweeting and Travel: A Beginner’s Perspective”. This was just my novice, beginner’s take on jumping on the social media bandwagon.

My final tip was:

9. If you are in any business, join Twitter now, same for Google Plus and Facebook. You are interesting to your targeted market if you are open and honest — even vulnerable. You will build relationships that will offer returns, both monetary ROI and others.

Thanks to all my followers, it has been a fun year.

If you had to book one trip for yourself, where would you go and why?

On a cruise with my entire family (especially my wonderful new “in-laws”)—anywhere, just so we were all together. I travel so often alone that being with family is my top goal—anytime.

As someone with an extensive knowledge of luxury travel, what is your own personal definition of luxury? Luxury = perfectly personalized to my (or clients) druthers. Experience, not price is the determinative.

 Jean Newman Glock can be reached on Twitter at @jeannewmanglock or via her website at http://www.jeannewmanglock.com.

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