Unpackaged, Untamed, Untouched
New influxes of flyers have popularised pretty much every overseas location you can think of, meaning agencies have to work twice as hard to find untouched corners of the world for luxury consumers who want the untamed and unbelievable. The kind of experience that elicits envious looks from dinner party attendees.
Hand-picked, unconventional destinations that aren’t packaged but painstakingly personalised to the individual are becoming the expectation with clients now coveting consultative, loyal travel planners as a luxury.
The industry ‘reset’ offers agencies a chance to build a revitalised understanding of luxury travel that’s culturally relevant, soulful and sensitive to what’s important for each client they work with. Whether it’s acquired music tastes or a love for the peculiar, they can take curated itineraries to another level – well above what clients could plan for themselves.
And with this loyalty, both to and from the client, they can craft beyond a singular trip. Jamsheed Posha, Co-Founder of The Pelican Club, has seen an influx of membership enquiries as well as a boom in business from pre-existing members; ‘Each of our members has at least four – with an average of 7.5 trips – planned in 2022 from small hotel stays to bigger adventures.’
Crafting a person or group’s trips for the whole year, building on previous experiences and preparing new ones that tell a story based on their lifestyles, desires and even their lifelong dreams, is a colossal part of travel advisors’ appeal and with money to burn, potential clients are looking for the personal, the private and the peaceful.
Not a hyperbole. More than merely avoiding long lines and tourist traps, trip advisors must go beyond easing the realities of travel to provide once-in-a-lifetime, money-can’t-buy experiences.
Post-pandemic, everyone is hunting for escapism harder than ever before. Chartering flights across Antarctica’s snowy shearwaters. Private viewing parties of the total solar eclipse in Chile. Exploring the caverns of an uninhabited archipelago on Madeira’s Desertas Islands. Being blessed in a traditional Balinese ceremony at dusk.
Experiences that seemed otherworldly not six months ago are the new currency in travel. A golden dust held by luxury advisors and, despite Midas’ mythical warning, many of us are reaching out to touch it.
Showing Up Sustainably
Since lockdown lifted, luxury travellers have been dusting off their monogrammed suitcases searching for the perfect destinations in order to make up for lost time, yet many are boarding planes with a newfound vested interest in conscious travel.
‘Luxury travellers have evolved with time. They have started to realise what brings them joy and are willing to pay for it. Rather than ticking things off a bucket list, they are weighing the experiences on the value they add to their journeys.
For some, it may be uniting with nature, or exploring charming neighbourhoods and interacting with the local community, and for some, it may just be a quiet association with a destination that propels peace within themselves.’ – Akanksha Lamba, Senior Vice President of Operations, The Postcard Hotel
Still wanting to escape their realities in unforgettable experiences, luxury travellers are now seeking out agencies with a strong sustainability policy or who are working toward a more responsible and regenerative future for travel.
More than three-quarters of high-net-worth travellers feel sustainability initiatives are an important factor when selecting a travel company with 70% believing that travelling sustainably enhances their experience, according to a recent white paper published by Virtuoso.
Circling back to knowing your client, sustainability could be a really viable, effective selling point for travel advisors curating to client values. And its significance is soaring in hospitality brands too.
Ensuring the experience lasts beyond the final flight is something each agency should place real creative importance in.
Selecting resorts with renowned in-house photographers; weaving in custom, locally-made elemental jewellery experiences to the itinerary for a rare and special souvenir; crafting a bespoke coffee table book (the current concept du jour); having a hamper of local delicacies and preserves waiting when they arrive home to literally draw out the flavour of the experience, the potential for creativity is endless and something to be capitalised on.
‘Meaningful experiences that enhance local livelihoods and champion ecological initiatives offer a sense of personal fulfilment, accountability and enlightenment that will last long after returning home, helping to improve lives for future generations.’ – Carrier, Luxury Travel Experience Agency
Because capturing or evoking memories for a lifetime is a luxury in itself, and it will show not only loyalty to your clients, but real attention-to-detail and care. None of which are qualities they’d enjoy opting for DIY travel.