Welcome to Selling Luxury, a podcast/video series produced by the editors of Luxury Travel Advisor. This series aims to inspire and educate travel advisors who want to enter the luxury arena and provides great insights for those advisors who are already successful in this niche.
Matt Turner, editor for Luxury Travel Advisor, this week spoke with Roman Chiporukha, co-founder and COO of New York-based Roman & Erica, Inc. Recently, the lifestyle concierge-style agency sold the last of three $50 million tickets for a 10-day mission to the International Space Station with Axiom Space. Although not every client is in the market for a trip of that price, Chiporukha found that there still is a big interest in space travel among consumers. To that end, Roman & Erica launched SpaceVIP, a “one-stop resource for all private astronaut training, adventures and news.” In Chiporukha’s words: “We’ve effectively aggregated all of the data, information and opportunities from all of these amazing space companies all over the world into one place where it’s easily digestible and approachable.”
Beyond space travel, the company also specializes in on-Earth experiences such as zero-gravity flights and simulation training, as well as “aquanaut” experiences like partaking in deep-sea submersible expeditions.
Why the interest in space travel? “If COVID taught us anything, it’s that whatever’s on [your] bucket list, needs to be done now rather than waiting and saving for it.” He adds, “People are seizing the moment and are doing what they’ve always wanted to do.”
For clients still exploring our planet, Chiporukha says they are taking longer trips and with the extended family in tow. Villa bookings and yacht charters—experiences where large groups of people can vacation in relative isolation from other folks—are also popular. He adds that, like many others, Roman & Erica’s clients began exploring the U.S. throughout the pandemic. One destination he discovered and recommends in Maine. He and his family booked a “glamping” experience in Bar Harbor through Terramor, with a highlight being a hike up Cadillac Mountain at 2 a.m. in order to to be among the first to view sunrise in the U.S. Chiporukha called it “a religious experience.”
And beyond selling travel, Roman & Erica has also founded Space Prize, a non-profit that aims to inspire young women to pursue careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, math). Launched in 2021, the global program will award two students with $250,000 worth of private astronaut experiences. In addition, their schools will receive a subsidy for STEAM education, while anyone participating in the contest will have access to a portal with a six-week curriculum (essentially a “Space 101”).