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Eric Goldring - From Marine Biologist to Seabourn Cruises #1 Agent
Episode 35th March 2020 • The Wealthy Travel Agent Podcast • Dan Chappelle
00:00:00 00:29:51

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Dan Chappelle (00:00):

Today we have Eric gold ring from Goldring travel in Truckee, California. And so we want to welcome him. He has a great story to tell. It started his career as an attorney and has become a very ultra successful travel professional. So welcome. Eric. Welcome to the show. Well, thank you. It's nice to be here. So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got, you know, I mean, that's a big transition going from a practicing law and to helping people have a fantastic vacations. How did you fall into that? Well, I actually started as a Marine biologist. Wow. And I loved that,

Eric Goldring (00:54):

But I was starving. So my boss at the national Marine fishery service said, why don't you become an environmental lawyer? So I was able to combine my Marine biology and the law and became an environmental lawyer. Now while I was in law school and the struggling young lawyer, I dated somebody who was an interior designer and her firm was tasked with doing some of the interiors on Royal Caribbean second ship, the song of America. So my first cruise was on the song of Norway and I loved it and it was free. So that was even better.

Eric Goldring (01:31):

Anyway, so from there, that was sort of my cruise introduction and then it went away and now I'm a environmental lawyer and somebody came in with a problem with a very large job into the law firm and nobody knew anything about it. And they were okay. Eric fish, water boats, it's all the same thing. You've got the case. So I wound up at the age of 23 before the U S court of appeals, arguing some very technical maritime things and I want that now. Made me a yacht Maven. And I was in the superyacht industry, which is luxury travel in a way. I mean it's buying, selling, chartering, all that. So I was involved with charters like Oprah, Rupert Murdoch, rock and roll people, Russian oligarchs. And I had to, I learned how to deliver a luxury product. The downside of all of that was it was exhausting, stressful.

Eric Goldring (02:28):

Nobody was ever satisfied and you made money, but you spend a lot of money trying to find happiness and that's not a healthy. So I eventually got my ex wife to agree to go on a cruise and my first family cruise was on the big red boat premier crew. Remember that? Right. And it was falling apart and it was a disaster. But I went to one of the big cruise agencies and I said, give me the best suite on a ship. Well, they gave me the suite and then I looked at the deck plans because I could do that from my background. I was like, well, what about the owner's suite? And they were like, well, you have a family. I go, yeah, but how much is the owner suite? They go, well, it's $25 more, but there's a $200 change. And that kind of set me off. I got the owner's suite. There were other things they told me that wasn't true because they just didn't know. Right. So I complained, I want to do a second cruise. Same thing happened. So while I'm this big superyacht lawyer, I'm speaking to the supervisor at this large agency with tons of outside agents. And she said, you know, more than my agents do. So I said give me a job.

Eric Goldring (03:44):

And so I wound up being an outside agent for one of these big agencies. And then eventually, you know, you're just selling to friends and whatever and trying to figure it out. But eventually I was like, why do I need them? What are they giving me? They're really not. And at the same time I was involved with cruise critic posting things and people were saying things that weren't true and I knew they weren't true because they couldn't be, this is my lawyer mind working or having been on cruises. And then in, you know, the travel business to a degree is dealing with yachts. And eventually I got banned from cruise critic cause I was calling people out and my daughter then told me about a thing called a blog and you could write what you thought. So I would go to cruise critics, see what people were saying, you giving me ideas for stories and I would write the stories and then I got a following as I get the falling, my travel business started to increase.

Eric Goldring (04:41):

So I went from being a lawyer and a travel agent to being a lawyer and a travel agent to becoming a travel agent. Yeah. And the big change came in 2008 when the markets crash, the wealthy people started having to change their ideas about yachts and travel and things like that. But they still wanted to travel and that's where the luxury cruise market came in because you could travel for $10,000 instead of $200,000 I think you bring up a good point right here is that regardless of what the economy is doing, they still want to travel. Absolutely. Because that's the most important thing they have is time. They need their time, no matter how bad businesses, the stock market, whatever, they have to get away, they need to refresh, they need to be taken care of as opposed to them taking care of everything. Right?

Eric Goldring (05:39):

So it was built in. So now what happened? Sort of around the same time, I was like, if I continue as this lawyer, I'm going to die. I'm 40 pounds heavier than I am now. I'm stressed out. I got psoriatic arthritis popping up, all kinds of health things and I just needed to change. So I took the leap and said, I can make this app. And you know, when you start your, you know, the cash flow wasn't quite what you'd think it's going to be, but you kind of make it new scratch and glow and then eventually it builds up. Right. And you know, then I was able to say, you know, this is really a lifestyle difference. So I got through my divorce, both kids are in college and I moved out to what used to be my vacation home, which is now my home and Lake Tahoe in Truckee, California.

Eric Goldring (06:34):

So, you know, now I have a situation where I tell people when I'm away, well, when I'm done with this journey, I go home to your vacation. And it's really true. So you know, when you become efficient with your time and you know your product and you don't let things back up on you, you wind up with a lot of free time. So you're able to go hiking or skiing or just taking a walk by the river and it makes a big difference as to how you approach your clients. So one of the things, and you mentioned this earlier about how you were banned from cruise critic, you are on the is your honest and candid and sometimes really scathing reviews and commentary and rebukes of people. How has that helped your business? Well, the most important thing is to be genuine and honest.

Eric Goldring (07:21):

As a lawyer I would tell people you're paying me to win, not to win mr congeniality. And you know, it's a little different in the travel business or you know, other non combative businesses. But you know, people don't want to hear that everything's wonderful when it's not. And if something isn't right, you'll want it to be improved. So, you know, if I go on a cruise ship, every ship I go on, I order a hamburger and a hotdog. Because if they can do the simple things that can do the more complex that tells you what the training is, it tells you what the ingredients are. It tells you what the delivery is, you know, how's it all work? When I get a hamburger that's overcooked with two bottom buns and there's a squeeze bottle of ketchup and manager's been out in the sun for, I don't know how long that tells me something.

Eric Goldring (08:20):

When I order two hotdogs, I get two hotdogs on one bun that tells himself when it's delivered perfectly. And I got crisp hot French fries as opposed to ice cold ones. It tells me something. So, you know, it's important to be real about it. And if somebody says, you know, they're the most luxurious cruise line in the world, I didn't set that standard. They did. Right. And don't you want to know if they're delivering it or not? And related to that, I find that the most luxurious anything to be a red flag because every client, every person, every guest has a different definition of luxury. I agree. Yeah. And so you got to set your bar as a travel professional the same way you expect the cruise line or tour operators set a bar that's achievable. There's fluff and marketing and then there's the reality, right?

Eric Goldring (09:25):

So when I give a very positive or a marginal or scathing review, my clients know they may not agree with it, but they know I'm being honest and I'm giving the backup for it. I don't say that was the worst cruise I ever took. Those were the best eggs ever had I explained why. Yeah. That's why I love reading your blog because it gives you always backup to whether it's a positive, negative. And you know, having been with one of the suppliers that was on the receiving end of one of those reviews, I can tell you it made a big difference. It was addressed immediately because I believe that was the hot dog, if I remember correctly. That was, that was fixed quickly because it is, it's the simple things, a little things when it comes to delivering the service. And I guess the lesson out of this is make sure that one, everyone knows you, you understand what your client's definition of luxury is.

Eric Goldring (10:27):

It could be carnival, you know, it could be Seabourn, it could be, it depends on, you know, who you're talking to, but making sure, and I think everyone should do what you do is go and see if they do the little things right when you are on board and experience it as a guest so you'll know exactly how your clients are going to be able to experience onboard. Right. And that's one thing, by the way, that it's sort of a sore point with me. I do not like FAMs fans are a great way to go see hardware, but it's not a great way to see product. Yeah. Because they're catering to you different. The mindset is, what am I getting for my free? You're a highly discounted trip as opposed to being able to sit back and observe guests and see how they're interacting and see how things interact with you.

Eric Goldring (11:14):

So when you're the travel, a general professional that's being catered to, you're going to get the best seating, you're going to get the best waiters, you're gonna get the best bartenders, they're going to make sure you're happy. But I've been on cruises where they're two really good bar waiters and they're running all over the place, making everything happen because the other six aren't that good. Yeah, well I'm glad I'm getting great service, but what about everybody else? So those things are really important to put yourself in a position where you can observe things. And you know, I travel a lot, but I travel a lot because it, you know, besides the obvious benefits of that, it makes me an authority and a lets me tell the clients specifically from my personal experience or watch out for this. And then you can figure out when you talk to your launch what matters to them because they may not care about the bath amenities not being that great. Right. I always bring my own so it doesn't matter other people, that's a big thing. How dare they do that. So you never know what someone's trigger point is.

Dan Chappelle (12:24):

Yeah. So that's a great segue into you know, obviously you have a niche in the industry. Do you have a specialty? You're considered an expert in authority. What is your niche and how did you come into that and make it your own?

Eric Goldring (12:38):

Well, my niece really is what is your luxury? It's not the most expensive. It's not the fanciest, it's what makes people feel warm and fuzzy. You know, I have the ability with the Marine biology background to be able to sell high end expedition trips. Yeah. I also with the Outback room able to sell high end cruises and, and land tours. But I look at it and go, I would rather spend my time on one person and earn a $4,000 commission. Cause these are people that tend to have experience. And know what they want. You're more managing their situation then for the same gross revenue have to deal with 20 people that really don't know what they want. They're going to be much more high demand because they don't know what they want. They have perceptions and you've got to work through each one's perceptions to get them to a reality. So I've developed with my background, the ability to kind of stay at that higher level, which gives me more time to really personally serve each client, to give them their luxury, whatever that may be.

Dan Chappelle (13:58):

And I'm sure you've probably experienced this as well, but I certainly have that a, the luxury client is so much easier to work with typically because they do have realistic expectations and they've traveled and they, they know what they're paying for. They expect to have a Seabourn cruise at a certain price versus, you know, it's not a $5,000 trip, it's a $50,000 trip and they get that. So that's one thing I always found that was great about working with them. So along that lines, we get paid to sell. So let's talk about, you know, what do you do to attract customers? And obviously you have your blog, you have other things that are going on, but what is it that you do to maintain and get your business to where it is today?

Eric Goldring (14:41):

Well, it's sort of a multipronged attack and probably ensemble travel group is a great way to kind of start that cause that that's my base. And with ensemble, you pay your fees and you get a website and you can really...