Fifteen years ago, Luxury Travel Advisor didn’t exist. It was in its planning phase, but it didn’t have a name quite yet.
We tossed ideas around, Luxury Travel Agent, Luxury Travel Consultant, Luxury Travel Professional…we even came up with the idea of Luxury Travel Adviser, spelled with an "e" for a brief and fleeting moment. That didn’t fly.
John McMahon, the magazine’s founding publisher, and I, at the time, had the same conversation that goes on today about the role great travel “agents” play in a person’s life, that these individuals should be given the same amount of respect as, say a financial advisor or an attorney. And so Luxury Travel Advisor was launched, to serve the sophisticated needs of luxury travel advisors who were dealing with demanding, high-spending clients.
The year was 2005 and it was clear that many, many travel advisors had already stepped up their game, and shifted the paradigm from processing travel-related transactions to providing life-changing experiences for their clients, thanks to their own initiatives and great coaching from Virtuoso.
The term “advisor” stuck and has been going strong for a decade and a half. Even ASTA last year finally embraced the phrase and changed the name of its organization to include the word “advisor” rather than “agent.” And it launched a magazine called Travel Advisor! Now, that’s validation.
While it’s been years since John and I flew to Cleveland to meet with colleagues to discuss the launch of Luxury Travel Advisor, it’s not really about us, it’s about you, our audience, that has solidified the name “travel advisor.” You’ve launched profitable business models that provide a high level of service to your clients who return again and again to you for more amazing experiences. They refer so many of their friends and family, it’s challenging for many of you to keep up with the influx of business. You’ve gained the confidence to speak to your clients the way your attorney speaks to you: With a plenitude of knowledge and the ability to tell it to you straight.
Look around at the next luxury travel conference you attend and check out the number of suppliers who have dedicated their entire careers to serving your needs. They love what you do and they have consummate faith in you. You have their respect and their dedication because of your professionalism, talent and skills.
Chris Austin, SVP of Seabourn, is featured on our cover this month because you, our audience, voted for him as the top luxury sales executive of the year. He is an ardent supporter of travel advisors because he believes in you. “I’m proud to reflect on an industry that took its destiny under control, blowing the headlines away, standing tall, fighting back and being more powerful, more visionary, more wanted than ever before,” he told me.
Speaking of 15 years, next year we’ll celebrate Luxury Travel Advisor’s big birthday in a number of ways but keep in mind, it’s you, the luxury travel advisor we’ll be applauding. Watch this space.