Shane Mahoney Luxury Travel Made Easy, Fight for your right to Travel!
Shane Mahoney Luxury Travel Made Easy, Fight for your right to Travel!

Today, we team up with Shane Mahoney of Lugos Travel to discover a whole new way of vacationing! Ever felt like you’ve been doing travel all wrong? Well, you’re not alone. Enter Shane Mahoney, a travel enthusiast and expert in crafting dream getaways. Shane’s passion for travel is contagious, and he’s got a knack for creating unforgettable vacations. In a world where vacations can sometimes feel like just another task, Shane reminds us of the importance of taking a break from our daily routines. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or someone who dreams of distant lands, this episode will inspire you to see travel in a whole new light. With his expertise, he reveals that luxury travel isn’t just for the rich and famous; it’s something you can experience too. It’s time to redefine your travel goals and embark on a journey like no other.

Thank you for listening! 

Link to Special Guest:

https://lugostravel.com/about/shane-mahoney/

For video versions of podcast:

https://youtube.com/@worleyrealestatenetwork

Connect with Jeramie and our business:

https://www.linkedin.com/company/worleyrealestatenetwork

Copy of Jeramie’s book, workbook, or audiobook:

https://worleyconsulting.textretailer.com/qc/tlkA3RcG9W

Link to our website:

Worley Real Estate Network – Helping agents and investors get a greater return on their time.

Want the best data tool for short-term rental agents to achieve mastery in their real estate business:

https://vrolio.typeform.com/worleynetwork

Listen to the podcast here

You’ve Got To Fight For Your Right To Party With Shane Mahoney

When it comes to travel, I now realize that we have been doing it all wrong. If you don’t have somebody in your life who can design a dream getaway for you like Shane Mahoney, you need to open your mind to the art of what is possible and not just what is on Priceline. Shane was so smart and so fun to talk to because he loves to travel. He loves to create the most memorable vacations for his clients because he knows that it matters to you, me, and all of us, who wander around in the dark when it comes to vacation planning.

We don’t need another job. We need a break from our job. Read this and let him guide you toward the ultimate travel experience. This show gets better and better and it continues to unfold and reveal opportunities for travel that we never thought were affordable or even possible. It’s attainable. It’s worth it. Here it comes, Shane Mahoney, the man, the myth, and the luxury lifestyle specialist.

What kind of old-fashioned did you end up with there?

A Bulleit Rye.

It’s very popular.

I have been on an old-fashioned kick for a hot minute and I have several favorite variations that I’m particularly a fan of but none so much as the vanilla old-fashioned.

I’ve never had a vanilla old-fashioned.

Most people have never heard of a thing called Licor 43. It is a vanilla liquor. It’s a phenomenal mixer. I was a bartender at a nice golf club for a little bit in college. I got to play with a lot of interesting alcohol and things. Licor 43 is vanilla. You throw it in with your old-fashioned. It makes it a little sweet. It’s like your sugar part, but it’s so amazing.

That sounds like it would be good. Do you still have any kind of citrus in there still or cherry?

It’s normal but with the vanilla flare. It’s especially better if you can smoke it. That’s optional.

I’ve seen what they do with those smoked cocktails. I’ve never had one though. I’ve got a kit for it at home. I love smoking meat. I have the whole setup. I’m not the guy that’s going to die with the most tools. I’m the guy that’s going to die with the most smokers because one thing that happened to me during COVID is I finally had time to chill out like we’re doing here.

Time to chill out is essential.

It is essential. I was able to learn how to smoke meat. It’s a goal I’ve always wanted to do.

What I found interesting a couple of years into my profession was that I come from a family of workaholics. The gene runs hard in me. I realized something profound and it took me a while and that is I sell vacation and leisure time. If I don’t understand leisure or being able to take yourself out of that work mode, then I cannot produce as good a trip for you as what you would need or want. I’ve been cultivating over the last few years more relaxation, time with the family, and things knowing that it makes me better at what I do versus pressing on and being more workaholic.

That’s an interesting dynamic. You have this interesting paradox because your job or profession is to create exquisite opportunities for entrepreneurs and people. It was my first time at VA and I saw the video that you had created. Seeing you in all these phenomenal places, I thought, “Wow.” Also, your knowledge of the travel industry is pretty legendary, and because you’re the guy who knows how to assemble these vacations not only for individuals but for groups. Tell us exactly how you approach the travel industry as an entrepreneur.

I think central to everything is asking different questions. I’m deep into philosophy and I think that a lot of people don’t think about philosophy enough. It’s because if you think of one thing that affects your mindset, how you approach everything, other people, your work, your play, your guide, anything and everything is your mindset and how you think not what you think. I ask different questions. It’s not a special skill. It’s only cultivated differently. It’s born out of many years of traveling around and seeing different cultures and people. I see so many undercurrents and tones in certain countries and places within those countries and apply other people’s things and interests in innovative and different ways than what you might see or do.

Let’s talk about some of those undertones. Give me an example of some undertones you’ve witnessed in a country.

You being the average person might want to go on vacation somewhere and you know you’ll need a hotel. What most people will do is they’ll go into Google and they’ll say, “I want a four-star hotel in this area.” Google would give you 215 listings. All of them have reviews and are pretty good. All of them are generally in the same area and have the same amenities and everything else. Sorting is a problem. The thing about the internet that is beautiful is that we have an enormity of information. In that ecosystem, the real value is not in being able to find that things exist. It’s being able to filter what exists with what you want. I might ask you as a client certain questions that illuminate where I need to be focusing my attention.

The real value is not in being able to find that things exist. It’s being able to filter what exists with what you want. Click To Tweet

What are some of those questions?

Are you more of a beach person or a city person? Are you more apt to be very busy? Are you more apt to have a nightlife? Do you like to do things during the day? Are you interested in different experiences or are you more like middle of the road that you just want what most people have had? These are some of the questions. From that, I might say, “We need to search for a hotel that has a rooftop pool.” For example, somebody was like, “They said that sometimes the room is too nice.” If it’s too nice, they want to spend more time in the room as opposed to going out and exploring things. I was like, “That’s interesting.”

Ultimately, I hit back and I was like, “Let’s say for example you’re in Cabo San Lucas where you have this beautiful beachside hotel but what you don’t know about Cabo or what most people don’t know is that you can’t go in the water. You can’t go in the ocean. The riptide is entirely too strong.” It makes sense to have a room that has a private pool that overlooks the ocean because now you can enjoy the water. You can enjoy the view and you’re not missing out on anything because of that.

He’s like, “That’s a really good idea. I would want to stay in that room a little bit more.” Think about it from the perspective of what you want or what my clients want and then immediately challenge them on their premonition of what they think they want. It’s because my thought process is most of the time that people have no idea what they want. This manifests itself in a lot of different ways, but probably the most classic example I have is what I call the Corona effect.

We’ve all seen the Corona commercials. You have two chairs, the Corona, a couple of limes, some palm trees, a beautiful beach, the ocean, the waves, and stuff like that. It’s super common to fixate on that. A client might come to me and say, “I want to do Saint Lucia for a week,” because that’s their vision of what they want. My job is to say, “Do you care if you’re in Saint Lucia or do you want that same experience?” It’s because it could be done in maybe 40 other places worldwide where you have that same vision but it’s carried out in different ways. What happens before and after that vision is what I care about.

That reminds me of when I first started my real estate business. It was when 2008 hit right out of the gate. I was only in business for about eighteen months when it hit and I wasn’t prepared for that impact. It caused me to start asking better questions for my clients. People came out of the woodwork saying, “I want foreclosures,” but in some cases, I knew clients who were barreling toward foreclosure or were covering a gap in expenses that were ready to dump the property for a deal or even bring cash to closing in some cases.

I would ask people. I was like, “Is it a foreclosure that you really want which comes with a lot of poorly winterized properties, vacant properties, vandalized properties, or is it just an opportunity that you’re looking for?” For me, that was my first major a-ha in real estate philosophy which was, “Do you want an opportunity or do you want to deal?” A lot of people hunt for deals but people don’t look for opportunities. What I love about what you said is you’re digging to find the right opportunity for somebody because they think they know what they want. This is why I was so impressed because I never met anybody who is a travel professional like you. What title would you give yourself?

I’m a luxury lifestyle specialist.

I’ve never met anybody that does that. I want to travel more after meeting you. I want to travel even more now after hearing what you said because it seems like you custom-tailor experiences for people in some cases.

It’s been an interesting evolution. If you’re asking me even a few years ago what I did, it was entirely custom. Most people are different than other people but in the ways that they’re different, they’re the same. There are only so many permutations of people in general. After I’ve done this for a while, what I realized is that a lot of people fall into certain buckets and those buckets can be serviced in lots of different ways and places.

If you’re an action or an adrenaline junkie, there are a certain number of things that I can do in any given place. They’re different things, but the net result is the same. You get the adrenaline response and your heart rate up. You are having something fun. What do I mean by that? If you’re in Costa Rica, that could be ATVs, zip lines, scuba diving, white water rafting, and stuff like that.

If you’re in Italy, it might be driving a Ferrari on public Italian roads. If you’re in Belgium, it might be flying in a P-51 Mustang over a World War I battlefield or flying in an actual Navy fighter jet. How we service that is different but the result is the same. You being an action junkie in this particular case would be looking for that experience in some different novel way.

Here’s what I don’t even understand. I didn’t even realize that menu of services existed and I don’t know how many people do.

I had a lengthy discussion with several people who were like, “You can do what,” in talking about private jets and homes. I’ll tell you something that nobody knows about. Most people love the idea of flying private jets. What they don’t realize is how incredibly expensive that is. Your average 2 or 3-hour private jet experience is going to be $40,000 to $60,000 round trip. You can fly commercial and you can do it on basic economy for maybe $200. You could do it at economy for $350. You can do it in business class for $600. You can do it in first class for $900 or $1,000 or you can do it private and it’s going to cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000.

Most people love the idea of flying private jets. What they don’t realize is how incredibly expensive that is. Click To Tweet

There’s a big difference between those. One of the things that’s interesting that people don’t know about is the VIP airport experience on a commercial flight. Let’s say for example you’re flying to Europe. Those numbers skew a little differently. Your economy is going to be $1,000. Your premium economy is going to be $1,800 to $2,300 and your business class is going to be like $4,500 to $6,000. If you do the first, that’s probably $12,000 to $15,000. If you did private, you’re looking at $150,000-plus but here’s how we can give you a hybrid experience that’s phenomenal at fractions of the cost.

When you fly private, some of the added perks is that you go into a private terminal when you show up at the airport. You have private TSA. You have no lines or zero lines. You have a private lounge that’s very plush. It has alcohol, food, and all the amenities that make life grand. Let’s say for example you wanted to fly to Europe and you fly business class for $4,500 to $6,000, but you’d like to have that VIP experience.

For a couple of hundred dollars extra at each airport, we can get you to come. Your private driver will take you to the VIP terminal. You go through the VIP TSA and lounge. When your plane is ready, a private cart picks you up and takes you directly to your plane. Before anybody else has boarded, you go up private stairs straight up to the regular commercial jet. This exists at hundreds of airports. You get in and you’re done.

When you arrive, you’re first off the plane. You’re greeted by somebody at the jetway. They take you down the stairs back into a car and to the private terminal. You go into private TSA where you sail right through. You get your bags. They’re coordinating constantly with your driver who’s going to pick you up as soon as you’re done and you’re out. You’re the first off the plane. You’re the first going through TSA and customs. You’re the first doing everything and all of that for a couple of hundred bucks.

Is this just for groups or individuals can do this too?

Yeah.

Do they need a book through somebody like you? How does somebody find out about these things? How did you discover some of these things?

The thing is you could book it yourself, but one of the big things I key in on is understanding the why. I have known you. You have a family. You work hard with your family and at your job. Would you like to take a vacation? It’s a horrible question.

I’ll answer it. Yes.

Here’s the thing. If you plan it yourself, it will take approximately 40 hours of your life, which is by the way another job. Why did you want to take a vacation? You took a vacation or you wanted to take a vacation to take away your stress, to lighten your load, and to bring new ideas into your head about what you do. If you go ahead and book it yourself and you do those 40 hours, didn’t you just add yourself a second job? You’re the CEO of your second job, which is your entertainment and budget.

I feel like you’re massaging my emotions right now. You’re giving me the old deep tissue massage in my brain because you’re absolutely 100% right. Now I never want to plan a vacation ever.

Let me ask you this. I’ve asked a lot of people this. A lot of people are like, “Why would I hire a travel professional? Why would you pay me to do your vacation?” I can sum it up in one sentence. If you’re flying over somewhere and for some reason, the hotel or the Airbnb that you booked cancels your reservation. Maybe the hotel had a fire or the Airbnb host’s grandmother died and they need to host their family instead of you or whatever. It’s totally normal stuff that happens all the time all around the world, but you’re flying over there.

You’re on the plane. You’re going to land and your expectation, because you booked everything, is that you’re going to get in a car of some kind, you’re going to show up at a place and you’re good. If this happens and you find out, raise your hand if you’d like to be the one working on this emergency during your vacation.

No, sir.

Understanding the realities of a vacation. A vacation is to take away your stress so don’t plan it yourself. If you have an emergency and you don’t want to be working during your vacation, have somebody else plan it because they can fix the things that are happening before you’ve even understood that there’s a problem. The third thing that I say is this. A lot of people want to book their own vacation because it saves money and this is the best tip I can give you.

A vacation is meant to take away your stress, so don’t plan it yourself. Click To Tweet

If you want to save the most amount of money on any vacation anywhere in the world, do you know what you need to do? Do not take a vacation as soon as you understand that taking a vacation is not about saving money. It’s about the exact opposite. It’s about having an experience. Now the question is what kind of experience are you going to have? It’s not a question of whether it’s going to cost you money. It’s not a question of how much it’s going to cost you. It’s a question of what is your experience going to be like. Is it going to be restorative, interesting, different, or informative? Is it going to be educational, fun, and relaxing? Those are all questions that you as the buyer get the answer with who and how it’s booked.

It’s about deploying the resources we’ve worked so hard for in the most economical way to get the best benefit. What I love about it is that you’ve traveled a lot or more than most. You’ve got a depth of experience that most people don’t have. One of the things I want to get at is there’s been so much technology surrounding trying to eliminate real estate agents from the planet. You’ve got Zillow, Redfin, and all these big venture capital private equity-funded companies that are designed to create tech that will eliminate a real estate agent and it hasn’t happened yet. In fact, Zillow has switched over to a brokerage model.

The only thing Zillow did was interrupt the process of somebody who needs real estate information and getting it from a professional. They went to a third-party tech company which then sold those leads to a real estate professional. It’s a great business model. If they can do it, they did it and it worked. It seemed like the same thing happened with travel agents in the past to a degree because I don’t hear of travel agents anymore.

There are a ton of them but here’s what you need to know about the travel industry as a whole. You got to go back 20-ish years. You go back a few years and what you realize is that the system was built over the last 80 or 100 years in a very specific way which is the travel professionals were the gatekeepers of information. You wouldn’t even know what hotels existed in the cities that you had before the internet.

You didn’t know who the guides were. You didn’t have any of this information. You used to have a travel professional just to be able to do anything like it. The internet came out, and at first, it was hotels putting up their own websites and guides putting up their own websites and all this other stuff. What ended up happening is the travel industry a few years ago had brochures that you would get information from to make your decision.

When the internet happened, we had a dichotomous system. People who wanted to book their own things had too much information. The information was plentiful and therefore, it was valueless. Too much information is valueless. The value is now in sorting information. What’s important? What’s not? Travel agents became a little less important but also pretty important because they could sort through the data to be able to find you the right thing.

Ultimately, what I look at in my business is that the system was a brochure and when the internet came out for travel professionals, it became an online brochure. Nothing changed. Over the last few years, we’ve developed tools and all kinds of interesting tech to solve all the problems in lots of different industries, but it was never applied in the travel industry. It’s a legacy system and it’s changed very little.

Here’s the thing. Where are the real innovations in this? To dig down into this, you have to understand what is to see where things are going. What’s the real process of booking travel? For me, it starts way before you call a travel professional. I look at the average American family and I see a very distinct arc. Thanksgiving and Christmas, you spend a lot of time at the end of the year with your family. You realize two things. One, you probably had a pretty good year, and two, you probably didn’t spend as much time with your family as you wish you had.

What most people do is either on a conscious or a subconscious level, they resolve to spend more time in the next year with their family. We’re going to take a family vacation. We’re going to do something cool. We’re going to go out. We’re going to explore. Everybody is like, “Dad, that’s awesome,” but reality sets in fast on January 3rd when we all go back to work and you’re like, “I’m inundated with the stress of what I do, and nothing happens for approximately 2 to 3 months.” If you have a family, usually it’s a moment of awakening about 2 or 3 weeks before spring break. Also, two things happen. You realize, “I don’t have a spring break plan. What are we going to do?”

You panic and it’s the opposite of what you want.

The second realization is we were going to take a summer vacation and we have made no plans for that. Acutely, at a basic level, you become aware that flights have gotten more expensive because time has gone by. Hotels and guides are more booked. All these things are happening in real-time and your stress goes from nothing because you weren’t even thinking about it to here. Now, let’s talk about the actual process of working with a travel professional.

Before that, in addition to your stress level being up, now you’ve got to go spend 40 hours, which you don’t have time to do.

If you’re going to do it yourself, but if you’re going to do it with a travel professional, here’s what the actual boots on the ground look like. Every single website for a travel professional is exactly the same. You have a form that you fill out that says, “I’m interested in buying travel.” I don’t know about you, but I hate those forms but there’s no other way so you fill out that form. Sometime in the next week, somebody professional calls you up and sets up a meeting.

During that meeting, it goes for about 30 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the person and what their level of expertise is. You, as a client, are going to share an enormous amount of personal information with somebody you’ve never met before about you, your family, what you want to do, how much you want to spend, where you want to go, when you want to go there, and all that stuff.

It’s an enormous investment from you. At the end of that, the travel professional is going to take 3 to 5 business days to get you one proposal. If you’re like most people and you’re like, “I don’t know if I want to do the Amalfi Coast or Venice.” They’re going to tell you, “No. You can’t have two proposals. You can have one. Let’s figure out which one you want.” 3 to 5 days go by after these months-long slog of stress and you love the proposal, it’s 85% of everything you wanted it to be, but inevitably, because I did the same thing, it was never ever perfect.

You, as a client, asked for 1, 2 changes, or maybe 5 changes. It doesn’t matter but if you make so much as one change to the dates, the hotels, and the tours, any change is another 3 to 5 days to get one more revision. This process rinses and repeats for on average at least three weeks. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and you’re stress level was here and now it’s here and here. This is where the American family does what most people would do in this situation. When you get stressed, you will take a bad plan over no plan and that’s where people will do cruises or vacations they’ve already done before.

When you get stressed, you will take a bad plan over no plan. Click To Tweet

It is the one-stop, easy, “I’m done planning this vacation. It’s finished. It’s over. Let’s get ready to go.” Hopefully, everything is great but do you know what I don’t have to stress about? It’s making a plan or making a decision about something. At this point, you have now reached the Zenith of your stress. You’ll do anything to get rid of it and that is usually not in your best interest.

Not to mention the fact that you’ve deployed your hard-earned capital in the wrong direction.

One of the things that I focused on over the last few years is how can we leverage the tools that exist in the internet age to be able to provide real-world answers to people who are in this situation. I don’t think it’s a small amount of people. I think it’s an enormous amount of people. What we have designed from literally nothing is you can go on our website. You can pick any of 66 tours in 20 countries and you can get a custom proposal without having a single phone call in less than ten minutes.

You can customize it yourself in your own home with your loved ones in any way that you wish. You know exactly how much it is at the end and if you’re cool with it, you can approve that and then you tell us when you want to go. We don’t care if it’s a Tuesday in July or a Thursday in September. It does not matter to us at all. It could be the Holy Week. It could be the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I don’t care.

What I care about more than anything else is how can we take this stress off your plate. How can we give you an amazing if not exceptional experience and do it seamlessly? When our clients say yes to our proposals, the only thing they need to do is be at their own front door when I tell them to be ready and a private car will pick them up, take them to the airport, and everything else will be absolutely taken care of, start to finish, until you go back to your house.

You started us on a journey. Take us through this journey now. Assuming this happens and now we’re in a private car. We show up at the private terminal and we get first on the airport. Where are we going?

Anywhere you want.

You pick. Where are we going?

Greece.

We’re going to Greece. We get off the plane. We’re first off the plane and then what?

A private car picks you up and takes you to your hotel. You’re immediately checked in.

Did I know I was going to this hotel or did you pick it up for me?

We pick everything for you.

Did you say, “You’re staying at this hotel?”

We provided an app that has 100% of the information. I am personally a different type of traveler. I catered things to people like me and to people who want to have more things planned.

When you say just like me, what do you mean?

What I love most about travel is a little bit of serendipity. “What’s going to happen?” One of the greatest things that happened to me was on a trip to Amsterdam. I was walking down the street and I saw a poster for a band called the Beastie Boys playing at Heineken Music Center in Amsterdam three days later and I was going to be there. I was like, “I know what I’m doing.”

For me, I like to have a loose plan where I can figure things out. I’m not like most people but I like that I’ve been able to cater to that exact thing. We provide what we call the essential tour structure. I wanted to design it from the ground up from the perspective of whether it was your first time in that country or your fifth time in the country.

What are the minimum amount of things that you need to have to make sure you’re okay? It’s not just okay, but okay. We include private English-speaking transportation with standard gratuity included anytime you have your luggage. If you’re transferring from a hotel to a train station, an airport, or whatever, you don’t have to do any of that.

This is the thing. I usually don’t have any $1s or $5s. I got my wallet lined out with $3 folded up together or $5.

What we take care of is standard gratuity. What we don’t take care of is porterage. If they help you with the bags, and by the way, we encourage and train our drivers to take care of the bags. You’re looking at $2 to $5 give or take. It’s not exorbitant but we’ve taken care of a lot of predictable gratuities. We include four-star and up hotels. One of the things that I realized was that when it comes to hotels, the standard room or the base entry room is usually terrible. We do a minimum one category room upgrade. You’re going to start off in a superior or deluxe room which allows us, as the operator, to be able to get you into a room with a view.

When it comes to hotels, the standard room or the base entry room is usually terrible. Do a minimum one-category room upgrade. Click To Tweet

You ought to have it and pay more for that. You’re on vacation anyway. You’re not going on vacation to save money and you’re not going to blow your entire budget if you’re going on one vacation, so you might as well have some memories worth repeating here.

One of the most common things that happened early on was that people were like, “The hotel doesn’t have to be that important. It doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. I’m just going to be sleeping there.” That’s the most common thing I’ve heard. It’s not entirely false but it’s the last thing you see before you go to bed. It’s the first thing you see in the morning. It’s what sets every single day into motion and what ends every day as the nightcap.

That’s so beautiful because you’re going to start the day in that state. It doesn’t have to be grand but it has to be clean and classy. One of the things that I discovered as I was diving deep into the short-term rental world is that cleanliness can be a wow factor. I was on a quest for a wow factor in the short-term rental world. In fact, trained agents and investors a long time ago to have some kind of wow factor, whether it’s knotty pine ceilings, some grand view, or your own theming. We found that cleanliness can be a wow factor. People will return to your place because it’s clean.

We start off with a basic of, “We’re going to give you a nice room. It’s not necessarily the fanciest room in the hotel but we offer upgrade options. We start you off somewhere decent.” Also, included in the essential tour after the transportation in the hotel is a welcome dinner. We have a dinner set up for you the first night you’re going to be there.

Now, instead of traveling and having to spend more time looking up apps and reviews on where to eat dinner, you just handle that for them.

We think about your stress. You show up. You’re in a new country. You don’t speak the language. You don’t know where things are and all you want to have is a decent meal. We don’t set you up with a Michelin-star dining experience that night. It’s a good local experience that’s within walking distance from your hotel.

I have to tell you a quick story here that falls right in line with this. My son will never live this down. We went to Kodiak, Alaska for Memorial Day where they do their Crab Festival. The whole town gets together on this island. It’s like a town fair and there’s not a lot on Kodiak. There’s a Walmart and a hospital. It’s got a lot of services but it’s all in one little town. The rest of the island is for the most part rural and wilderness in large part.

My family goes there because we’re looking at lots to purchase because I want to build a home in Alaska. It’s where I want to live someday. It’s where I want to retire. That’s the experience I want. We show up and we don’t know where to eat. We’re traveling from Branson, Missouri to Alaska on three planes. It takes all day plus you’re going back in time so it’s daylight when you get there and hours go by.

We’re living two days and we’re starving to death. The first thing we do is pull into this little roadside cantina and when we walk in, the wind blows in with us and the swinging doors come open. Everybody that’s never seen anybody is in like a Clint Eastwood movie looking over like, “Yes,” and we’re standing there.

We just wanted something to eat. It was uncomfortable and we were starving. It was all awkward. The waitress comes over and gives everybody a little bit of water or something while we’re waiting to see their menu. My son who was old enough to not do this knocks his glass over and spills his Dr. Pepper or something all over the place. Now, we’re that family. We came in wearing denim and all these Missouri clothes not appropriate for Alaska weather.

What’s interesting is that’s when the tension broke in the room and instead of being outsiders, everybody in their restaurant rushed to help us. Everybody was cleaning it up and from that point on, everybody saw us as this wayward family that was looking for a burger. The first meal upon arrival was the most stressful moment we had on the entire trip. The fact that you know that and that you cater to it tells me you know what you’re doing and you care about your clients.

What I wanted to do ultimately full stop was find where your stresses are, solve those problems, and leave space for you to be able to find your experience.

I feel so cared for right now, and I haven’t even used your services.

I’m not even done yet. This is the base level of service that we do. After the welcome dinner, we include a farewell dinner so on your last night, you won’t have to figure out where to be. We include breakfast every day because the last thing you want to do is forge for your breakfast. We include that at the hotel. Lastly, as part of this system, we include one privately guided tour in each city that you visit and we include skip-the-line access wherever it’s available so that you are not waiting in any lines and you go straight into what you want to do and you get right into it.

Privately guided tours allow you to focus on the experience and your time. I think most people have had a group tour. I was in Boston and we did the duck tour. We’re in the duck boat and it was hokey and fun. The guy was hilarious and cracking jokes and telling us all kinds of stuff about the history and stuff but ultimately, group tours are like a Disney ride. It’s on rails. If you love what you’re seeing, you don’t get to have more of it. If you hate what you’re seeing, you don’t get to quit so you’re stuck on this thing.

Privately guided tours are an entirely different experience that a lot of people don’t understand. It’s a question of if you have 50 weeks a year that you work and 2 weeks that you’re off, then 30 to 50 weeks have been in anticipation of this trip. Do you want to stay in a line for two hours at the Vatican waiting to get in and then spend 4 to 5 hours going through or would you rather have one-hour early access before anybody else has access? You’re in there with handfuls of people and you go through most of the stuff with almost nobody.

Shane, this makes me want to travel more because a lot of times, I just want to avoid crowds anyway. I want that personal easy breezy experience. I’m slightly introverted.

Why would you want that?

You said that 30 some-odd weeks of the year, somebody is anticipating this. Most of the time, they’re not. They’re anticipating the dream of this but what they get is what they normally experience. It’s what you described, but if I knew I was going to have this vacation, I would get up every day and work my ass off because I knew that this was going to be coming for me and my family. This is what I would anticipate.

I get tingles talking about this stuff because, for me, I get to see what my clients are going to do, how they’re going to feel, and when they’re going to smile. I get to experience that months before you ever even go. I know this is silly but I have literally watched my clock knowing that I was going to get a text from a client at a specific time because of something that I set up three months ago. I’m like, “At 4:15, they’re going to be impressed. That’s the difference between somebody who’s making an experience for you and somebody who’s doing it themselves.”

They will never ever do that because when you do it yourself, name me one person who doesn’t pinch a penny somewhere. As soon as you’ve done that, you’ve taken yourself out of having the best experience and you’ve said, “I want to save the most money,” which now again, we discovered is antithetical to the vacation to begin with so you’ve started getting in your own way of having a good time.

Somebody reading this might say, “This is fine but I’m upper middle class. I’m not even an entrepreneur yet or whatever.” Cost-wise to have all of this extra luxury attention, you don’t have to say what it costs but help us understand the price difference between these extras and not having the extras or having these things up. Give us a simple way to understand how much more we might pay for our vacation. Maybe it’s a percent or mediocrity is cheap.

There are a ton of ways that you could go to Italy for $3,000. You’re going to be on a bus with 40 people. You’re going to be shepherded through museums ultrafast. You’re going to have a very homogenous experience. Nothing is going to be personal. Do you know what you’re going to remember six months later on that type of trip? You’re going to remember that jerk off from some other state who was touching the art when they told them not to touch it, who was loud, and asking ridiculous questions.

You’re going to remember that experience over what you did. It’s a question of what you value. If the only thing you value is money, then take that cheap tour but if you value having a life experience, then understand that everything else comes at a cost. There’s a market for Kias and there’s a market for Porsches. What is the realistic difference between the two? You can’t tell until you get behind the wheel of both. With that being said, what does that look like? It depends is the answer which is crappy.

If the only thing you value is money, then take that cheap tour, but if you value having a life experience, then understand that everything else comes at a cost. Click To Tweet

As a very general rule in an industry-standard way of talking about it, I would say we don’t do anything less than $500 per person per day. On average, we’re about $800 to $1,000 per person per day. Depending on the options that you pick, it could be more than that. For example, there are a lot of ways to go to Belgium and spend low money but we have eight-day tours in Belgium that start at $7,500 for two people for a week, which is not crazy money. That’s for the base essential tour package, which is phenomenal by the way. I would tell anybody that if that’s all you do, it’s great. There’s no reason that you need to take our enhancements but if you want to fly in the Navy jet, that experience is going to cost you $10,000 for that alone.

However, that’s something you’ll have your entire life.

That is by far the most expensive one single option that we have across the board.

Where I live, just two hours away, you can go shoot a red stag for $7,000 on a guided hunting tour. Red stags are magnificent creatures. As you drive up to the private lodge with the private lake, you see a red stag bounding across the road because they’re in this 2,000-acre preserve. We didn’t do the hunt but we stayed at this place in an off-season one time. That experience alone changed our lives completely because from that moment on, I decided I wanted to own my own private acreage and private lake with a lodge on it. I began looking for it and we found it. I found some business partners and we have it. Now the red stag doesn’t exist yet there but there’s plenty of whitetail. I shot my first deer there. I didn’t realize I liked hunting.

I had never done it.

I’m an urban guy and my dad never hunted growing up so I’ve never really done those things. I liked camping. I like being outdoors but stories about people hunting we’re always like, “It’s November, we’re cold. We’re staying in a pop-up tent. We shot this deer and we got to drag it out of the woods and it’s all this.” I woke up one morning in deer season and one of my best buddies was there with me in the dark sipping a little coffee in anticipation of watching the sunrise in the woods by ourselves. A dusting of snow had happened the night before and we walked quietly up the hill into the deer stand. I got up in the deer stand and sat there and watched the sunrise and waited in anticipation for what if.

I had been praying to God to be able to harvest the best from the land. We waited about 30 minutes and this doe comes running in and this beautiful buck. It went and it stood between these two trees. I put up my gun and my sights and I knew I was trying to aim for the kill zone because I didn’t want my first hunting experience to be this long drawn-up process of trying to track a deer and find that. I was also praying for a clean humane kill.

That’s exactly what I got. I dropped it right there. A lot of people have what’s called buck fever. It’s what’s called in Missouri. It’s this thrill that you get for shooting a deer and I didn’t get that at all. I felt sad, to be honest with you because here was this beautiful creature that was alive, mating, and at the peak of its strength. I also took the Missouri Hunters Course which I realized that these deer have no apex predators anymore and are getting overpopulated. They’re getting diseased.

We, as the apex predators of the land, have to harvest from the land. My philosophies changed there. I got my four-wheeler. I drove it up there. I got it down and we processed it and everything but I walked up to that deer and I put my hand on that deer. It was still warm and I had this almost Native American experience where I felt like it was like that. I put my hand on the deer and I committed to the things that I’m going to do in my life to honor the life that I took and the nourishment that my family and I are going to be able to have.

That deer meat is still in my freezer and we’re eating it. That very concierge-level experience of hunting, I didn’t realize that I never went hunting because I didn’t want to do it in a tent in a cold November. However, having the experience in my own place on my own mattress with my best bud who guided me through the entire process is something I will never ever forget. I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to go shoot a deer every year but when my freezer is empty, I’ll go harvest from the land.

It’s that kind of experience that gives me joy to talk about it to teach my children to want to do it more often and I feel like that’s what you’re talking about. If we had the joy that came out of these vacations that you’re talking about, if we invest a little bit more, it might just enhance the other parts of our lives. I have to ask you. Did you travel a lot growing up or did you not travel a lot? What got you interested in travel? What’s your art? Get us to this point where you’re this travel professional.

It’s an interesting art. My mom is from Paris, France. My dad is a fourth-generation Floridian. I’m fifth fifth-generation Floridian. My son is sixth. They met at The Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach. Do you know it?

No.

It’s a very famous hotel and very hoity-toity. It was a very big time. They met and both worked there.

Was someone ordering an old-fashioned one?

I wish. My dad was a waiter. My mom was the head host or something like that. My mom would never date my dad because they worked together. She has high morals. My dad quit his job. He got a job in the oil fields. This is the ‘70s. He went to Tehran, Iran for training. My mom finally being able to date this guy got a promotion in the hotel group to anywhere she wanted to be.

She chose to be in Tehran, Iran so that she could be with my dad. When she shows up, they link up. She finds out that he is shipping out in three days. In three days, they got engaged and married. That sense of adventure I guess is permeated most of my life. I was almost born in Iran. My mom took a third trimester flight which they would never let happen anymore to be back in Florida so that I could be born. We lived for a year in Borneo. We live for three years in Perth, Australia.

By weird happenstance, we ended up in this town called Lakeland in the middle of Florida. It’s 30 minutes from Disney in between Tampa and Orlando. My brother and I were in school and they were like, “We don’t want to move anymore so we’re going to stay put.” I had never lived anywhere in my life longer than three years by the time I was eight years old. I’ve been around the world four and a half times physically and I have a wicked Australian accent. The bug was set. I remember we lived in Lakeland for three years and we called a family meeting and we were like, “Where are we moving to because it’s time to go.”

Was it job-related or do they just love to explore?

It was job-related but they were trying to plant more roots. We stayed put much to my chagrin at that time. That continued until my senior year of high school when I was an exchange student in Barcelona for six months. I got my first job and I took vacations in Russia and Amsterdam. I just wanted to get out and do stuff but through twelve years of my career, I had normal Corporate America-type jobs in sales and finance. I excelled at making money. That’s essentially what I did. I wasn’t in love with what I did. I did it for the mortgage.

Was that a travel industry now?

No. They finance cars, houses, and construction. At 34 years old, I had become completely disillusioned with life. I was like, “I hate what I do.” It’s not that I’m not good at it. I’m like, “What am I doing this for?”

It’s a means to an end. It’s not for a purpose.

I was working for the weekend, and it’s not true, but when you break it down like, “Are you living up to the potential that you have?” For me, the answer was no. I had an absolutely terrible plan. My plan was to sell everything I owned to move to the French Alps with no job and to become a ski instructor.

At least, that’s purposeful and directed.

I haven’t even asked myself what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t very practiced at being able to answer those questions.

It was like a retreat almost to a safe place.

I was like, “I like to ski. Let me go do this thing for 1, 2, or 3 years and I’ll figure some s*** out.”

I think that’s what I did with my career initially in college. That’s how I chose my major.

I chose my first major because I liked playing with Legos. I thought I would love being an engineer. I took microeconomics and I was like, “I like business. This is more my thing.” I graduated with an International Marketing degree and then proceeded to spend twelve years never doing anything even close to that. I had reached a point of frustration in my life that I did not care what I did as long as I wasn’t doing what I had been doing. I needed a distinct break.

You need a bucket of cold water tossed in your face for a minute.

My family was not super happy with this plan, but they were also supportive, which is an interesting balance to have. My mom saw this article in France magazine about a guy who had a twenty-year real estate agency in Colorado. He probably reached the same point in his life that I felt like I had been. He sold everything, moved to France, and started a ski school. I was like, “Done. I will be literally the worst salesperson on the planet if I cannot get a job with this guy.”

I wrote him a long email explaining that I was in the same spot having read his article that he must have been. I was like, “Why don’t you hire me? I will be out there in three weeks. Let’s do this.” He was super gracious. He’s like, “Let’s talk.” We talked for four hours the next day. It was that life-defining moment where I realized a number of things. One, short answer was TL;DR. He goes, “Don’t be a ski instructor. You don’t understand. It’s like college over here. It’s a five-year degree. It’s $40,000.” I was 34 years old. I was a little old to be undertaking a five-year program to get into this. I just wanted to get into it.

Have you sold everything at this point?

I was pretty close but I hadn’t yet. I sold some stuff. He goes, “You sound like you should be a tour operator.” I was like, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. What is a tour operator?” One of the biggest questions that I’ve run into in my life is most people associate travel agents but they have no idea what a tour operator is. I’m going to assume that you and neither of your readers do.

A travel agent is a go-between between people who want tours and tour operators who make tours. Tour operators are the ones who put all the stuff together like the package, what you do, where you go, and where you stay. All that stuff is done by a tour operator. I started to dig into the nuts and bolts of this industry right in the beginning because, after that phone call, I spent a month researching. I was like, “Let’s figure out what this is. Is this something that I want to do?”

What I realized was that there’s a fundamental flaw in the travel industry, which is you as a client might call a travel agent and say, “I want to take 10, 12, or 9 days. I want to go to Italy.” You tell this travel agent all this stuff about what your dreams are. You tell me the Corona dream of what you want. The travel agent does not work for you because you don’t pay them. They make a commission and because they make a commission from the tour operators that provide the tours, they’re going to go out and find tour operators that are close to what you want and pay the highest commission.

The only thing you, as the client, are going to be presented with is that one thing that they think is the greatest thing for you to do but it’s not the greatest thing for you to do. It’s the greatest thing for them to sell you. That is where I was like, “This is a break.” It’s because I looked at myself as a CPA, attorney, or a valued professional who has industry knowledge about what I do and cares about what you are going to do.

I understand at a fundamental level that any vacation, anywhere for any length of time, has the potential to change your life forever and your family’s life to connect you and your wife, you and your kids, or all of you together as a family unit for decades to come. Also, to provide a touch point for you to have a relationship with each other centered around the experience you had on vacation.

Any vacation anywhere for any length of time has the potential to change your life forever and your family’s life to connect you and your wife, you and your kids, or all of you together as a family unit for decades to come. Click To Tweet

Do you remember any Christmas present you got when you were fourteen years old?

I do but I’ve never been asked about this before. I remember growing up in a pretty middle class almost poor family. Looking back, there were things that I didn’t know that was happening that were happening. We were in various states of not making it and making it. I remember being that absolute prick of a kid who was an audio file. I’ve always been my whole life and I was like, “I want this stereo, the Boombox.”

A fun fact is I took a student loan in college that I got my parents to cosign on just so I could buy a stereo system. They don’t know that but it totally happened. I pined for this legitimate Boombox, a great stereo system and I got a wreck of Eckerds Pharmacy piece of POS system. It was the ultimate disappointment. I wanted nothing but the one thing and I got all these presents that I didn’t care about and I could have cared about the one thing. I do remember that.

You screwed up my questioning too because the whole point was most people can’t remember what they got when they were 12, 13, 14, or 8 for Christmas but they remember those special vacations they took. Another thing that hit me when I was in my 30s is whenever you go to a funeral and you see people you haven’t seen in a long time. They look at you and they’re like, “You’re different. What’s going on with you? Your kids are so big,” or you go to a wedding and you see people you haven’t seen in a long time. They’re like, “You look different. What’s going on? Your kids are so big.”

Weddings and funerals mark time in our memories. Therefore, we intentionally see people travel for moments that are meaningful. Weddings and funerals are meaningful. We celebrate these benchmarks in our lives, but we don’t celebrate every year. We don’t celebrate our time as a family getting through COVID. Surviving COVID changed travel forever. It made people realize that we were selected to stay on the planet and we also will never miss the opportunity to travel with our people ever again. Let’s not forget.

I hope that people learn that lesson and I think they did because the visuals of you standing behind windows to say goodbye to your grandpa and grandma was a very powerful reminder of how little time we have. The single thing that absolutely wrecked me and messed me up for a while was I was 42 years old and somebody said, “How old are you?” I go, “42.”

They’re like, “Do you know what? You have about 30 summers left.” Your reaction is my reaction. When you put it that way and you’re like, “Thirty summers?” There was an interesting book that I was recommended called Just 18 Summers. If you’re a parent, you realize at an acute level that you have eighteen summers to form a bond to be able to create memories.

Do that until you’ve never got a chance to do it.

To do that or to set a standard in their life that they will live up to for the rest of their life and to show them how other cultures live. One of the people in this room was taking their kids to Tanzania. They are an incredibly privileged kids. They have video game consoles and all the stuff that these African kids have no concept of being. They live in huts. They don’t have running water. They pee in holes in the ground that we’ve probably dug three days ago and stuff like that.

Being able to see, experience, and understand at a foundational level what it is to be hungry, needy, or wanting but here’s the real thing. To have those things in your life and be happy to see that in real other cultures and happiness with nothing is a gift that you can pass to your family and your kids that will last them their entire lives. You have that choice to do that or you go on a cruise on Royal Caribbean.

You don’t have to fight for your right to party anymore. We’re going to go ahead and put your favorite toast for a moment to be here, looking in your eyes, having this conversation, and saying, “We’ve learned something from each other.” Go ahead and tell us how people can get ahold of you and what’s the best way to move forward.

The easiest way is ShaneMahoney360.com. You can find everything about me on the website. You can book time on my calendar or anything else. If you want to have a conversation, I welcome that because I like talking about the philosophy behind what we do and not what we do. What we do is not as consequential as the why behind what we do. I find that to be one of the most interesting parts of the human experience. We do so many things because of the inertia that came before it without understanding why we’re even doing it. Have you ever taken a vacation to the same place twice or more?

I have.

Do you know why you did that?

I wanted to re-experience the same thing.

Also, because it was a lot less stressful to plan. You knew where to go. You knew what to have. You know where you are going to eat. You knew the bartender that was going to fix the drink that you wanted. It was stressless to be able to create that experience for yourself. When you put it in the 18 or 30 summers standpoint, what did you do? What was the opportunity cost of what you did by going to repeat a performance that you’ve already been to?

You are missing out on that exploration of a new memory or of that new place that we might want to go back to again. That’s why we need you in our lives, Shane. I learned so much and I appreciate that. I knew you were a powerhouse, but I never knew why.

The why is the most important question. How, who, and all those other questions are secondary to why. If you know your why, you can create the most amazing things whether that’s an experience for you and your kids or your business and what you do but knowing why is the foundation for all of it, in my opinion. Other people might have different ideas.

If you know your why, you can create the most amazing things, whether that’s an experience for you and your kids or your business and what you do. Click To Tweet

Now I just have to figure out where.

The nice thing is that it doesn’t matter. The thing is I look at it from the perspective of if I know who you are, I know what you like. I know what you’re into. I can create an experience for you anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter the where if I know who you are because then it’s just like, “How does this gear of who Jeramie Worley is fit with all these different other gears to be able to create an experience that changes your life?” If there’s any magic I have, it’s understanding how those gears fit together.

You’re a travel engineer is what you are.

I guess I ended up an engineer all the same.

 

Important Links