Adapt to individualized travel. Guests are going to continue to look for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are perfect for any and every group they’re traveling with.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean McClenahan.
Licensed to practicee law in Nevada (2006) and California (2011), McClenahan has worked in private practice, focusing on domestic/family law, general contract matters, corporate set-up, bankruptcy, and real estate matters.
In 2014, McClenahan saw an opportunity to pursue his own legal and management company and left the practice of law altogether. Wanting to hone in on his scope, he shifted towards personal and business management for high-net-worth individuals, overseeing real estate holdings/transactions, business ventures, estate planning, family trusts, and general business transactions of his clients, including celebrities and successful business owners.
That same year, McClenahan joined a real estate investment firm based in Las Vegas, focused on real estate transactions in Mexico. Since then, McClenahan has negotiated and closed over $25 million in commercial and residential real estate in Mexico, as well as an additional $40 million in Las Vegas, Texas, California, and Spain.
Through his work at the firm, which owns significant real estate in Cabo, McClenahan met Juan Ramon Guevara, a fellow real estate professional. Over time, they developed a mutual friendship and decided to open their own boutique real estate firm, Blue Desert Cabo, which launched in early 2019. Quickly becoming an elite bucket list destination in Mexico, Blue Desert Cabo is a selection of the most luxurious and incredible villas and rental properties in Los Cabos. Going beyond a typical rental property, McClenahan took the Las Vegas hospitality mindset to redefine the experience, offering guests a bespoke journey with itineraries designed specifically for them. No two trips are alike, as each client’s itinerary is meticulously crafted.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Prior to Blue Desert Cabo, I was a personal lawyer for a family that owned quite a bit of real estate in Los Cabos. We started to have discussions about starting a company that would represent the houses they owned in the area which ultimately led to what is now Blue Desert Cabo. Outside of real estate, I have traveled all over the world and have extremely high expectations. Many years ago, my husband and I had a terrible experience in Cabo where we were discriminated against for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. That was something I never wanted anyone else to experience, so I thought why not bring in my hospitality experience and turn this into a larger company.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
At Blue Desert Cabo, our BD Concierge team can make anything under the sun possible for our guests. We’ve seen everything from turning a gym into a full-blown club to having to move an entire beach wedding indoors on the spur of a moment due to rain. Every guest is so different that it makes our jobs extremely interesting and fulfilling to make any event or experience, one that they will never forget.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I actually have a story about a Spanish translation gone awry.. On a business trip to Mexico City with my business partner, Juan, we were in a restaurant and I was ordering something and talking to the waiter and all of a sudden the tables around us started to look and giggle, as did Juan and the waiter — apparently whatever I was trying to say translated in slang to “I want a sexual favor.” Ooops! Juan and I still laugh about it to this day. One little change in the way you pronounce Spanish words can change the overall meaning. I learned that it’s important to continue to practice the language, even though I thought what I was saying was accurate.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
My advice to those that work in the travel industry, is to travel. Book villas or resorts in other locations and see how other people are running their businesses. Enjoy the trip for yourself, but also do some research while you’re there. You never know what you might find and what can work for your business. Last year for my 40th birthday, my partner and I went to St. Barts with a group of friends. We booked a private villa there and everything was spectacular. I was impressed with their hospitality and found a few new ideas that I could also implement into the service at Blue Desert Cabo.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m incredibly grateful for my business partner, Juan Ramon Guevara. Great partners are hard to come by. Juan’s knowledge of the landscape and background in the Los Cabos hospitality industry, paired with his ability to handle situations in a calm manner is more than admirable. He actually managed the properties down in Cabo before I was in the mix, so it was an easy transition when we started working together. We balance each other out as Juan always has the mindset of how to please the client and make their wildest dreams come true, while I hone in on the guest experience.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
Travelers want curated once-in-a-lifetime experiences. They’re not the experts on the destinations that they’re traveling to and that’s where our BD Concierge comes in. Blue Desert Cabo also offers private villas and homes where we bring the amenities of the hotel directly to you. Whether you’re wanting to plan a large corporate meeting, a brunch buffet for your girls’ trip, to an intimate proposal for two or a special wedding, anything that your heart desires, our concierge team will make it happen. Due to the effects of COVID, I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more bespoke and curated packages pre-planned for travelers.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
Flights are extremely limited right now due to COVID. Booking your travel alone is hard enough, dealing with layovers and connecting flights. If our BD Concierge team can make the rest of the planning as painless as possible, the happier our guests will be.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
Travelers may start to rely less on Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. Concierge teams are people that are local, on the ground and are experts in that destination. They know the insider tips/tricks, what areas are safe and which places are open, and they have personal relationships. They are a trusted source that are right in front of you. Guests can physically see them and talk to them instead of relying on someone they don’t know behind their keyboards.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
1. Adapt to individualized travel. Guests are going to continue to look for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are perfect for any and every group they’re traveling with.
2. Allowing for less densely populated spaces. For years to come, travelers are going to value having more space and not being crammed into busy public areas.
3. More privately tailored experiences as opposed to group events. The less touch points, the better. Having a private car versus taking an Uber, having a private chef come cook dinner in your villa versus going to a busy restaurant, having your own resort-style pool versus a shared pool at a resort, and even having your own private beach instead of sharing with the public will all be more desirable.
4. Over communication on cleaning procedures and protocols.
5. Finding that escape closer to home will continue to be a trend. Places that people are more comfortable traveling to, whether it’s in driving distance or a direct, shorter flight, will be more common.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
The perfect vacation experience involves my husband, Michael and I traveling with a close group of friends, staying in a private villa or house. Having the opportunity to 100% curate my itinerary and tailor it to the group I’m traveling with is just as important. If there is a way to take the pain of planning everything out of the equation and just enjoy great wine, food and lots of laughs with the people I love most, that’s what makes the perfect vacation for me.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As a Las Vegas native, I was one of the founding members of The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada. I’ve also annually sponsored Piero’s Italian Cuisine to help provide those less fortunate with Thanksgiving meals, as well as overseeing the distribution of funds of a local family organization; over the years I have helped distribute millions of dollars to various charities. Currently, I’m working on a virtual concert series at Blue Desert Cabo that will benefit charities that are dear to my heart, including supporting the performing arts who have been hit hard during the pandemic.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If there was a way that I could bring good to the most amount of people, I would put an end to voter suppression. At the end of the day, what our lawmakers do on a state, local and national level, affect all of us and every single person’s voice deserves to be heard.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @bluedesertcabo and follow me on Instagram @Mc2Vegas
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!