As we count down to the New Year, Luxury Travel Advisor is rounding up the most buzzed-about stories on our website from 2014.
1. Awards of Excellence Winners Announced at ULTRA Summit
The year kicked off with a bang with the announcement of our annual list of Awards of Excellence winners during a commemoration ceremony held at the Langham, Chicago. Coinciding with Luxury Travel Advisor’s second annual ULTRA Summit, the cocktail party brought together leading travel agency owners and managers to pay homage to the Awards of Excellence nominees and winners. In addition to honoring the winners with an awards ceremony, Luxury Travel Advisor will feature them in an upcoming 2014 issue.
Every year, Luxury Travel Advisor’s Awards of Excellence spotlights suppliers that deliver outstanding experiences and provide top-notch service around the world. The Awards of Excellence Advisory Board, an invitation-only panel of travel advisors that have been featured on the cover of Luxury Travel Advisor, hand-selects a collection of hotels, cruise lines, restaurants and individuals. The publication’s travel advisor readership determined the winners through an online ballot that ran January and February, 2014.
2. New York's Dream Downtown Gets Celeb Hairstylist Salon
In September The Dream Downtown in New York opened a new IGK salon. This was the third location for celebrity hairstylists (and brothers) Franck and Leo Izquierdo, who have teamed up with stylists Aaron Grenia and Chase Kusero to launch their first New York City address.
The stylists have tended to the locks of celebs like Jared Leto and Paris Hilton. As head stylist for Donna Karan, Franck counts Grammy winners Cedric Gervais and Lana Del Rey, and Simon Cowell, among his personal clientele, while Leo is the designated "Hair Guardian Angel" of designer Vera Wang and Miami Top Models. Chase is the "go-to guy" for attention-grabbing red carpet styles and has worked with David Guetta, Ozzy Osbourne and Ciara; and New York native Aaron's cutting techniques and styling are favored by designers like Chloé and Roberto Cavalli and can be spotted throughout Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
3. Crafting the Perfect Honeymoon
Readers also enjoyed one of our cover profiles, which we released during wedding-planning season back in February.
Jim Augerinos, president of Perfect Honeymoons & Holidays Travel, offered us some top tips on planning ridiculously over-the-top honeymoons.
“Everyone here [in the Washington, DC area] is over educated, everyone makes good money, and everyone is very well-traveled,” he says of his clientele. These customers are also typically in their late 20s and early 30s, and are very much in tune with the trends of traveling Millennials. That means even though they’re planning their first vacation as a married couple, Augerinos’ clients want to be blown away even more so than your average luxury vacationer.
4. Virtuoso Reveals Top Trends and Destination Information at Travel Week
This year's Virtuoso Travel Week offered some key insights into the trends driving the industry.
At the event Luxury Travel Advisor attended a press conference hosted by Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch, who shared insights on the buying habits and motivations of upscale travelers. It is important to note that the average Virtuoso traveler is 56 years old. Seventy percent are married or partnered and the median household income is $200,000.
“We’ve seen developing is a polarization in the way people buy travel,” says Upchurch to a group of 40 members of the consumer and trade press. “Travelers are either planning way in advance for their dream trips, or they are booking last minute.” Several factors are driving the high demand, most notably the massive rise in tourism with more than one billion people now crossing international borders as tourists.
5. Signature Ascending
Finally, in our October cover story, we checked in with president and CEO of Signature Travel Network Alex Sharpe, who at the time was just over a year into his executive position.
And while Signature has been around since 1956 (it started as a West Coast consortia before expanding dramatically), one could say 2014 generated the most intense changes for the network.