The popularity of online booking may have made life more convenient but it has taken away that dose of personal service that often marks the difference between good and great vacations. Like a complex puzzle, the perfect picture is clear only when you put all the pieces together. And that is what our Villa Specialists are trained to do.

When you book directly with Elite Havens, our Villa Specialists work with you to match your requirements and preferences with the ideal villa for your holiday. This is a highly-honed skill, one that is backed by deep research, first-hand knowledge and keen listening abilities.

Managing the team of Villa Specialists in Manila, Queen Crisologo has got this art down to a science. We sit down with her to talk about her journey with Elite Havens and why she loves to wake up each morning and help people plan their dream vacation, even ten years into the job.

The Role

“My role is to oversee and support the team of Villa Specialists in Manila. We provide quality recommendations of villas to our clients (travel agents or individual travellers) and help them through the entire booking lifecycle.”

The challenge lies in the expanse of the portfolio. With 300 villas and chalets spread across Asia, finding each client’s perfect holiday home is not an easy task. “But we use certain techniques and processes to help create a shortlist. Our team is trained to use probing questions to get the client’s preferences in terms of location, property design, style, facilities they may require, and working budget if any.” This extensive list is then matched with the portfolio and like a puzzle, the full picture slowly starts coming into view.

All smiles from the Villa Specialists Team

The Expertise

So what value do Queen and her team add to the customer’s booking process? “Unlike a blind dating service where the client has to browse through all our (amazing) properties, we make their job easier. We know each of our villas and chalets at the back of our hand. Saltwater pool? Check. Clifftop sea views? Check. Best food ever? Got it. Whatever the customer wants, we know exactly which property will check all the tick boxes for them.”

“Our involvement doesn’t end once the booking is made. We are in touch with the customer until they check in, helping them with their queries or requests. Sometimes they are particular about what they want stocked in the villa or chalet before they arrive. We arrange that with the on-ground team. The concierge services provided by Elite Havens are a well-orchestrated tango behind the scenes between our team and the in-country team managing the guest.”

Pandemic Challenges

Managing a team during these unusual times can be daunting, especially with the tourism industry being the worst hit. When asked how she managed to keep spirits high during these times and still maintained the team’s productivity, Queen shared, “Remote working wasn’t a challenge for my team as we are always ‘on’ and had work-from-home days pre-pandemic too (holidays and weekends). However, with conversations being typed and not verbal, it can sometimes get lonely. We found ways to connect via Skype, Zoom or MS Teams and had regular team meetings.” What Queen doesn’t mention is the enthusiasm with which the team looks forward to these meetings, as not only do they get to connect with their counterparts in other offices, they also bond with each other by playing quizzes, games and other such fun activities!

Zoom meeting with the team

Queen’s Pick

With inside knowledge of the portfolio, the obvious question on everyone’s mind is – which villas and chalets make it to Queen’s Top 5 list? Queen struggles with that answer. “Can I give my top five per destination? It is so difficult to pick only five.”

But rules are rules and we insist on an overall Top 5. She finally concedes, “Across destinations, and if I based it on travelling with my family, I like Grand Cliff Ungasan, Taman Ahimsa, Jivana Villas, Tawantok Villas and Seshu Chalet.” Now, that wasn’t too tough, was it, Queen?

Cherry on the Cake

One wonders what would keep someone excited about their job even after ten years. When asked what the best part of her job is, Queen replies with a twinkle, “The best part? The travel, of course. On villa visits, I get to experience and stay in some of our spectacular properties. How can you top that?”

Take Me Somewhere

To sign off, we asked Queen what she missed most about travel. “I miss Changi Airport! Even with long layovers, I cannot get enough of that airport. With all the travels I have done and times I’ve stopped at Changi, I have not seen or tried their movie theatre. There are endless things to do there, the airport is a destination in itself.”

And what’s her next destination the moment borders open? “When the pandemic passes, I would like to visit our chalets in Niseko. For a family trip, we would like to go back to Kyoto and visit the sights we missed then take the Shinkansen train to experience the bustling life in Tokyo.” We’re all waiting with our bucket lists ready, Queen. In the meantime, thanks for helping us dream of that next holiday. Everyone can do with a dose of that, we reckon.

Queen with her lovely family

Managing a big team while catering to a host of questions from guests is no easy task. Learn more about the other great people behind the success of Elite Havens here.