Fallon Alexandria flips a piece of salmon in the pan. It sizzles, steam curling up from underneath. On top, the golden edges of a perfect pan sear. She’s mastered the sear, to the point where her followers on Instagram suggested she do a reel on the perfect pan-seared salmon.
“I can’t,” she laughs. “It’s not that hard, guys.”
When it’s ready, Fallon transfers the salmon onto two crisp white plates and dresses them with English peas and shitake mushrooms. Cooking fills Fallon’s soul, and her coworkers know that at 5pm each day, she stops work, dons an apron and gets in the kitchen (“my space”). Any work calls after that are futile.
The early evening sun glimmers in Fallon’s bright, fifth-floor apartment in Harlem. Outside, she hears the hustle of a busy city and a construction site below (“they’re always building something”). But inside, Fallon’s world is calm and sophisticated.
“I love a minimal environment,” she says. “Clean, simple and Scandinavian-style.”
She sets her dinner plates on a beautiful modern table with angled legs and whitewashed wood. She fell in love with a similar table at a store downtown in SoHo, but the price tag was $2,500. Her husband went home and built a near-replica for her. Fallon and her husband’s design aesthetic has inspired memorable trips to places like Brimfield, a giant antiques market in Massachusetts, where designers like Ralph Lauren have sourced products and where Fallon and her husband have come home with a few treasured vessels of their own.
In Fallon’s world, good design isn’t just part of home – it also determines where she travels. In fact, she has a knack for finding some of the most stunning hotels out there, from lavish boutiques to trendy eco-resorts, all with the central theme of thoughtful, curated design.
“I love a beautiful stay,” she comments. “If [the design] isn’t good, it's not worth my time. Design and service are high up there for me.”
One time, it was The Alest in downtown Mexico City, which had just opened and had no reviews yet. She took a risk and booked a stay, only to be blown away by the tasteful luxury and staff trained in methods of London’s British Butler Institute.
“It was unreal. A five-star experience,” she says.
Another time, it was Coqui Coqui Coba, described as a one-of-a-kind exclusive hideaway outside of Mexico City, that “arises out of the jungle like a forgotten mirage.”
“It’s not normal,” Fallon marvels. “They have hammocks in the rooms. It was by far the best design I’d ever seen in a hotel.”
Fallon’s deep love for design isn’t just a hobby; it’s become her career.
By day, she’s the Director of Saks Fifth Avenue’s Private Client program called Limitless. The private client program creates fun and extravagant experiences for specialty clients, from shopping at Bulgari in Paris to pop-ups in Aspen (which is where Fallon will be traveling for two weeks this summer). While she works from home during the day, travel is a huge part of the job.
“That’s what I do for a living: manage teams and create amazing experiences,” she muses.
Fallon’s been in the world of luxury retail her entire career, working at impressive international brands like Burberry, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman and most recently, an online luxury brand called Farfetch. Because of the nature of her job, which focuses more on the business and sales side of the house, Fallon finds herself doing different things everyday. Sometimes it’s working from home; other times, it’s checking in at the office or visiting a showroom or store. But a priority for her has always been taking a noon lunch break, and that’s when she books travel as a Fora Advisor.
“I never used to have a lunch break before, but with Saks I do,” Fallon explains. “I literally fold [my Fora duties] into my schedule. It’s easy.”
Just today, she used a portion of her lunch break to hop on a call with a Fora client to solidify the details of her upcoming trip. And after cooking one of her specialty dinners at home, she often finds herself snuggling into her nine-foot white designer couch to catch up on her travel research (and wanderlusting, of course). Much of Fallon’s travel advisor business has come from her own personal network.
“I know it sounds cliché, but I’m all about relationship building,” Fallon says.
Her clients have been friends, mentees and even designers she’s worked with who were looking to plan travel and needed a little help. As a self-proclaimed expert on Mexico – particularly the Yucatán Peninsula – Fallon gets bookings through the Fora website, where she posts her latest travel content. She credits Fora for a lot of her organic growth.
“I never thought of working in this capacity,” Fallon admits, citing an ever-growing list of commitments, from work and home life to serving on the board of two non-profits in New York. “But now that I’m a part of it, I love it.”
Fallon has always been active on social media, and friends told her for ages to start a blog. When she was introduced to Fora, it was the perfect way for her to share her travel advice and flex her creative muscle without having to start something completely on her own. Fallon loves creating travel guides on the Fora website to showcase places she loves, like the Yucatán Peninsula. And of course, she loves Fora’s modern design and its unfailing community portal, Forum.
“I remember my first week when I had questions about traveling to Italy and needed advice and hotel tips,” Fallon explains. “I just popped on Forum and people were highly responsive and engaged. I was shocked at how quickly you hear back from people.”
For her, the transition from researching her own travel plans to booking trips for others in her network and being able to rely on a whole community of other travel advisors as she grows her client base was seamless and easy.
Working in luxury retail and planning travel are actually a lot more similar than you think. At the end of the day, it’s about building lasting relationships and conducting a really good follow-up.
“I chase people,” she laughs, describing how she spends a lot of time following up with clients, suppliers and hotels. “I definitely find that there’s some crossover with the relationship piece and the data and organization piece.”
Those trends are part of the most important advice she gives new travel advisors today.
“Relationship, relationship, relationship,” she emphasizes. “If you don't have a relationship with people, will a stranger trust you to give you their credit card information over the phone? If you don’t have the relationships, you won't have business. That’s number one.”
She believes that building a solid relationship starts with two key tactics: consistency and follow up.
“I don't think it's magic,” she says. “It's like what I do for work. My stylists work in a digital space. And they have to connect with 150 clients, 90% of whom they’ll never meet. So how do you engage? And how do you keep the relationship going? And how do you build that repeat business? You have to be formulaic, and consistent, and repetitive in your approach, and obviously authentic and genuine in that process.”
In her eyes, as a travel advisor, booking a great trip for a client isn’t just about forwarding hotel details and sending the traveler on their way. It’s also about following up after the trip to make sure they feel taken care of and building a long-term relationship.
To Fallon, travel advisors can offer something special that travelers can’t get on their own.
“[We] bring you an additional point of view, and open up your eyes to something that you've never thought of before,” she explains. Her advice to travelers using a travel advisor for the first time is to be open. “If you come with everything you want, there’s no point in using an advisor. Being open and flexible is key.”
It's through that commitment to being open that Fallon began her journey with Fora. And to her, it’s an adventure of a lifetime.
“Fora chose me,” she says.
Want to book your next trip with Fallon? Reach out to her today.