Editor's Letter: Three “Quiet” Dynamics to Watch For

When “Succession” recently aired the first episode of its final season on HBO, experts quickly noted that the series was once again touting a “quiet luxury” vibe with the clothing and accessory choices for its ultra-high-net-worth characters.

An article on the Business of Fashion website by Brian Baskin says that the quiet luxury trend refers to a style that “subtly telegraphs status via materials, cut and low-key signifiers rather than loud design flourishes and obvious logos.”

Similarly, the February runway shows evoked a toned-down elegance, while celebrities at the Oscars in March referenced a more classic Hollywood look, said Baskin.

If this is the fashion trend for the ultra-wealthy, how are these same customers approaching travel?

For expert advice, I turned Embark Beyond’s Trends Report, First Quarter 2023 published by founder and managing partner Jack Ezon.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel and Meetings Group

The report cites the significant trend amongst the wealthy of “more conscious consumption; doing things more for internal fulfillment and drive and less about the external exposure.”

Your takeaway? Your luxury clients are once more all about the “experience.” Don’t hesitate to present costly itineraries to them if they provide value. Embark’s report also points to the “New Tour Guide,” one who spends quality time with your clients, sharing what it’s like to live in a place as well as insider secrets. Embark says this means DMCs need to rethink the guides they are hiring. Do they still need someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of their city or is that social someone with lots of friends in interesting places preferable? Encourage your go-to DMCs to consider this marketplace need so they can keep up with your clients’ desires.

“Quiet Quote Angst” is another dynamic I experienced recently. A contractor gave me a price to renovate a small bathroom early last year. Due to what he calls a personal code of ethics, he refused to raise his fee even though by the time he could do the project inflation had risen a lot. The plumbing in my 80-year-old house also required much more work than he’d estimated. I voluntarily added on to his payment at the very end but we were both miserable throughout the project: I, because I didn’t want him doing the extra work for free and he, because he knew he hadn’t charged me enough.

As an advisor, be sure your service fee quotes include caveats for mitigating circumstances. This could be a pandemic that forces you to cancel and rebook your clients’ vacations five times over or that your client’s daughter has to have her airfare for a family reunion rebooked because she just got a new job and now has to leave early. Creating the space to adjust fees throughout the trip-building process will make for a better client experience. Remember, your best customers are not looking for favors. They know your worth and will pay you for it.

Finally, we’ve got the “Quiet Quitting” syndrome, where employees decide to do just the bare minimum to get paid. One red flag? Say you’re explaining an exciting project to a team member and all they do is nod in compliance and deliver lackluster results. If you’ve got someone who’s checked out completely no matter what you do to raise their level of enthusiasm, consider letting them go. Working for your travel agency is a remarkable opportunity and it shouldn’t be wasted on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.

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