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I was talking to a family the other day, and the mother was telling me about their recent family vacation — the most luxurious trip they had ever taken. She said the hotel they stayed at even had “those guys who bring your bags to the room,” and her kids were blown away by that. It was a good reminder that luxury is always relative — what’s commonplace for one person might make a trip extra-special for another. Travel agents need to match the customer to an experience that will deliver the most bang for the buck for that particular traveler. And that’s the goal no matter what level of luxury is involved.
In this special all-luxury issue — a first for TravelAge West — we feature some of the most unique upscale experiences available, starting with the luxury options in our cover story, “The Art of More” (page 16). We chose to do an all-luxury issue because this aspect of travel offers significant opportunities for advisors. According to Phocuswright’s “U.S. Consumer Travel Report Ninth Edition,” affluent travelers go farther (54 percent of travelers with a household income over $150,000 took an international trip in 2016 — the only group above 50 percent); stay longer (an average of 5.3 nights versus 4.6 nights per trip); and spend more on lodging ($683 versus $442 per trip). Also, perhaps most importantly, 71 percent of wealthy consumers rated travel as a high priority — much more than other income groups. This is a crucial difference because advisors don’t need to convince affluent clients that travel is a worthwhile endeavor — they already understand the value of the experience.
While luxury clients are an asset to agents, it’s important not to forget about the majority of travelers who are not as well off. It’s great to see luxury clients booking more, spending more and traveling more, but it would be even better for the industry as a whole if the number of mainstream travelers was also growing. There’s a real danger in suppliers and other industry players focusing only on the well-to-do and not designing products for the rest of us. Travel should never go back to the days when it was only attainable by the privileged few. We are all better off when the wonders of the world are shared by all.