How Would You Define a VIP Travel Experience?

How Would You Define a VIP Travel Experience?

What Exactly Does a “VIP Experience” Mean To You?

Recently I was reading a post by Ruthanne Terrero in Luxury Travel Advisor that explores the point of defining what VIP travel actually means. Or more specifically, the article was directed at Travel Agents who may ask hotel personnel to “VIP” their clients, without actually defining what they mean by VIP — leaving hotel staff struggling to figure out what to do for a given guest.

Ms Terrero’s point (and a very good one, at that) is that any Travel Advisor worth their salt should be sure to get to know their clients so that if they are going to request some special treatment on their behalf, they’d better know what the client would value and also what the hotel may have that can match.

This all got me thinking about VIP treatment in general — from the traveler’s or guest perspective.

So leaving Travel Agents aside for the moment, the question then become what does VIP treatment mean to you when you travel — be it a luxury Disney vacation or any other vacation?

It’s a topic worth exploring, since we talk a lot about VIP experiences and luxury travel in this blog, often without quantifying what that means.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Not surprisingly, most VIP experiences tend to occur at upscale resort hotels.

How I Define a VIP Experience

Over the course of my lifetime of luxury travel, I have had several of what I would call VIP experiences at Walt Disney World and other destinations. I’m not talking about paid experiences that you reserve (you can buy a Disney VIP tour experience, for example, for several thousand dollars—which will make you feel like a VIP), but instead I’m talking about those unexpected extras that will surprise and delight you. Things that you don’t pay for.

That was the sentiment of Ms Terrero’s piece: making a guest feel special with little extras that make them feel very important…a VIP.

VIP can mean many things and can come in many shapes and sizes. Often it’s not about the tangible value of something, but more about the impact it has on your overall vacation experience or the way it makes you feel.

For example, some of the experiences that I have had personally over the years at Walt Disney World Resort involve things such as:

  • special gifts unexpectedly being left in our room (balloon arrangements, Disney stuffed characters, boxes of chocolates, small gifts for the girls, etc.),
  • extra monetary credit added to our account to spend as we please,
  • an extra allotment of FastPass+ passes,
  • wine and desserts being left in our room, and so on.
Magical Moment Parking at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.

Not every Magical Moment at Walt Disney World will make you feel like a VIP, but a lot of them will.

VIP Means the Most When It’s for No Apparent Reason

Sometimes you may receive things like this as an apology for something that went wrong, but I am talking about when you receive them for no apparent reason. That is when you feel really special, because something very nice and very unexpected happened. You really feel like a Very Important Person. You feel like a luxury VIP…like a celebrity.

While all of those things noted above are super nice (and always welcome), for me personally, however, the ultimate VIP experience means receiving something that I could not otherwise get for myself.

VIP gifts in the Bora Bora Bungalow at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.

Unexpected items left in your room are a nice touch, such as this Stitch stuffie, plus Hawaiian chocolates and Hawaiian flower hair clips left unexpectedly in our Bora Bora Bungalow one evening at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

One of My Favorite VIP Experiences at Walt Disney World

Probably one of our best VIP experiences at Walt Disney World was one time a few years ago when the hotel Concierges gave us access to exclusive VIP seating to watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This is something that you cannot otherwise get (unless you spend literally thousands of dollars on a VIP Tour, for example). So it was very special indeed to receive this. Instead of waiting for hours to hold a spot, or having to push through a crowd to jockey for a position to see the parade, we were able to stroll up to a front row seat (an actual chair) 15 minutes before the parade, in a roped off area, with no one else around so that we could watch the parade in total comfort.

Now that is something that still stands out to this day as a very memorable VIP experience and something that we could not plan for. We felt special and we were very thankful as it made a very positive impact on our already exceptional stay (at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, on that occasion). This all came about quite unexpectedly after a casual conversation with one of the Club Level Concierges about our past experiences trying to find a good spot to view the parade. This Cast Member took it upon herself to give us a “Magical Moment,” as Disney calls them.

So for me, VIP means an unexpected extra that I could not generally get for myself (at least not without a significant cash outlay or effort, which really takes away the surprise aspect of getting VIP’d). We are always treated well during our stays at Disney Deluxe Resorts, but on those occasions when we get something a little extra for no apparent reason, we do feel extra special.

How Would You Define a VIP Travel Experience?

With all of that in mind, how do you define VIP experience? What comes to mind when you think of being afforded a VIP experience at a luxury resort at Walt Disney World or anywhere else in the world? Is it a room upgrade to club level or a suite? A reservation at a hot restaurant that you couldn’t secure on your own because it has been booked for months in advance? Feel free to share what would be your ultimate VIP experience in the comments.

And here’s to wishing all of you a few VIP experiences on our travels this year.

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Mike Belobradic, The Finer Side of Travel™
A Luxury Disney Travel Blog