Travel Agents Know Access Is Luxury

Happily for travel agents, consumers are more interested in unique experiences than material objects By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West

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As most of us in the travel industry know, the definition of “luxury” is always in flux. But for the past several years, one principle has seemed to remain true: “Access is luxury.” In other words, as opposed to accumulating brand-name possessions, wealthy consumers would rather spend money on a higher level of access. Whether that means access to bucket-list adventures, exotic places, unique people or authentic cultural experiences is up to the particular client. But the access that enables a person to create a memory — a one-of-a-kind story to share with others — is of ultimate value these days.

As you can read in this issue’s cover story, “The Next Wave,” cruise lines have not missed this point. As luxury cruise lines look to make their itineraries more adventurous — either through unique destinations, high-tech equipment or amazing excursions — agents must educate themselves on the latest luxury adventure options if they want to appeal to high-ticket customers.

At TravelAge West, we’ve been watching this trend emerge over the past several years. It’s the reason we launched our quarterly Explorer supplement three years ago, and it’s a big part of why we became the sole travel trade media partner of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).

The ATTA is a first-class organization that does an amazing job of serving its members and keeping them up to date on all the adventure possibilities available to today’s travelers. Although the group works with agents and wants to learn more about travel agent needs, relatively few agents have become involved with the ATTA so far. That seems to be changing — in part thanks to a new partnership with Travel Leaders — and I encourage all agents to look into joining.

We know that agents are interested in learning about luxury adventures. A quick survey of agents at Northstar Travel Group’s recent Global Travel Marketplace West event showed that nearly 90 percent of the top-producing agents in attendance said they wanted to know more about this market. And rest assured, TravelAge West will lend a hand however we can.

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