Wall St traders favor “puff of smoke” holiday test

October 9, 2007

gregorypatrick.jpg     Many Wall Street traders are too squarely focused on what everything costs to enjoy unique vacations, according to a man who spends his life trying to create unusual experiences for the very wealthy. While hedge fund managers will allow Gregory Patrick to design a one-of-a-kind holiday in a place like Tuscany in Italy or the South Island of New Zealand, at a cost of up to $4,000 per day per person, Wall Street traders always nickel-and-dime every element of the experience, to the point where working with them is unpleasant, he said. “The trader is extremely commodity-driven in his or her thinking. In their mind everything is commoditized and I have a very difficult time working with them. I sell a puff of smoke, an experience, they want to think of everything as ‘I can get this for that over here’ and I don’t enjoy those conversations,” Patrick told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Boston. 
    Patrick, who runs his own company DreamMaker International, also said that corporate executives were cautious about how a lavish holiday might be perceived. “I want to know how much you are going to spend on bottles of wine,” he said an executive might demand. “I don’t want anything that is over the top, I don’t want anything coming back on us.”
    Hedge fund managers, on the other hand, are the easiest to work with. “Let’s do it, let it ride and anything goes” is most likely to be their philosophy, he said.
    Patrick also told Reuters of some of the ways he keeps his clients happy:
    –He never creates a guest book. These are not people who want their friends to know where they’ve stayed. That devalues the experience (his butlers and chefs are also forbidden from talking about previous guests).
    –Ostentatious displays of wealth are generally out. Costly but understated is the aim. These are people who may be tired of staying at the presidential suites of major hotels, who would prefer being seen in a town car rather than a limousine.
    –Patrick manipulates reality by hiring actors to create special moments during the travels. The clients aren’t told that the charming people they just bumped into were actually placed there to make their experience more enjoyable.
    –While Patrick provides electronic communication links in far-away places he hopes to create such an experience that his clients will rarely use them. “They have to get away from the marketplace,” he said.
    –Make sure that there is exclusive access, whether to be backstage with Sting at a concert, have a dinner cooked at your villa by one of the world’s top chefs, or a visit a vineyard that alllows little access to mere mortals. 
    –Steer clear of anything to do with the masses — clients would “rather have a red hot poker stuck in their eye” than go on a cruise ship, he said.

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