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Last month, Regent Seven Seas Cruises began selling suites on its 2017 world cruise, and nearly three-quarters of the available cabins sold out in one day. The price tag? More than $100,000 per couple. Clearly, there’s a market for high-end vacations.
In this issue’s cover story, “Come Fly With Me,” we look at another big-ticket travel product: private jet charters. Sure, most travel agents are not currently selling private jets, but the best time to educate yourself on this lucrative market is before you need the information, not when it’s too late.
And that time might come sooner than you think. Regent’s sales success with its world cruise is not an anomaly — numerous studies suggest the upscale travel market is hot and getting hotter.
For example, Phocuswright’s “U.S. Consumer Travel Report Seventh Edition” contains several responses that point to a continued increase in travel spending on all levels. (Phocuswright is part of Northstar Travel Media, LLC, the parent company of TravelAge West.) According to Phocuswright, the average household spent $3,441 on leisure travel in 2014 (excluding dining and shopping) — up more than 25 percent since 2009. Three in 10 travelers spent $4,000 or more last year (and 18 percent spent $6,000 or more). Also, the percentage of U.S. travelers who spend more than 2 percent of their income on leisure travel is growing, reaching 66 percent last year.
These stats reflect a booming travel industry, and those who can afford to travel more and spend more are leading the way. Travel agents need to cater to these high-value clients if they want to succeed — and these clients are a demanding group. When asked in “The 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report” where their upscale clients are willing to compromise, 25 percent of Virtuoso agents replied, “They do not compromise.”
That sets the bar pretty high, but being able to respond to the challenge is clearly well worth the effort.