The Art of Advising: Anticipating the Desires of the Evolving Luxury Traveler

(PDJPhoto11/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images) Photo by PDJPhoto11/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

What’s the latest trend in luxury? Achievement travel. That would be where you decide you want to accomplish some awesome feat, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or running in the Disney Marathon. Once your mission is accomplished, you celebrate in 21st-century style with a large group of your close friends, indulging in tasting menus and spa experiences.

That’s just one of the latest pieces of industry intel we picked up from our fifth annual Ultra Luxury Conference.

What I like about the “achievement travel” concept is that it allows luxury travel advisors to dig more deeply into the lifestyles of their clients and there’s no need to wait for their 30th or 40th birthday to roll around to suggest they plan a luxury group experience. It does, however, require that travel advisors have more honest and personal conversations with their clients. It’s no longer a conversation about where they want to go in the world, it’s about what they want to do with their lives. An artful luxury travel advisor will navigate these conversations to garner intel that will help them get their clients where they need to be to satisfy some of their life goals.

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Our Ultra advisors shared other insights about their clients’ desires. Customers are still seeking larger and larger suites and insider access to chic events, such as fashion shows. They want the private transfer and driver, of course, but some also hire a traveling “bellman” to help them with their luggage, and other potentially challenging issues along the way. Customized, immersive experiences have become de rigueur and, for some Ultra advisors, hiring a personal photographer to go along on the trip to capture the top moments is no longer a rarity.

Don’t you love how the luxury traveler is evolving? These concepts would have been inconceivable 20 years ago, but these days it seems you wake up and the ultra-affluent consumer has come up with yet another way to solve their lifestyle challenges.

If they can pay for it, they can dream it up. 

Take the demands of your most indulgent, creative clients and share them with your more conservative customers. Hiring a traveling bellman could extend the travel life of a wealthy older couple that’s just too wary to travel abroad anymore. And securing a personal photographer to capture the precious moments during a multigenerational vacation will enhance the value of the trip tenfold, since the memories will live on forever in family photo albums. 

The most joyful takeaway from Ultra 2018 is that client spending is back to pre-2007 levels and so is the mentality. Gone is the shyness about spending and there’s really not much nervousness about traveling, even to big-city destinations in Europe. 

Clients still need to be educated, namely in that, just because they have the money to spend, their first choice of suites or space on an exotic tour may not be available anymore if they wait too long to make their decision. 

As always, the travel advisor has to be diplomatic. They must be an artist in communicating and forceful in driving home their expertise. But that’s what being an advisor is all about, isn’t it?

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