Editor's Letter: The Top Takeaways From ULTRA

We’ve just concluded our ULTRA Summit at the Eau Palm Resort & Spa in Manalapan, FL, where we gathered top luxury travel advisors and suppliers together for networking, learning and one-to-one meetings. I’m pleased to say that the prevailing attitude was one of great optimism for the future as well as much gratitude for the strong amount of business flowing in at this very moment. 

What’s keeping advisors happy, on top of the fact that their top clients are traveling now? We surveyed them just prior to ULTRA; here are several trends they’re seeing at the frontlines.

The large volume of travel requests is being accompanied with a higher client spend. Affluent travelers are willing to pay to ensure their experiences will be five star. 

As COVID rules continue to relax, customers are expressing a desire to travel further from home. The reopening of the South Pacific, Australia and Asia has been much anticipated. One caveat; don’t wait to book far-flung places. If you view my interview with Catherine Heald of Remote Lands, you’ll learn that cherry blossom season in Japan for 2023 is already booking up. Educate your clients that there will be no fire sales for travel as the world continues to reopen. Clients in the know are securing the best dates and the best suites now.

“We are growing at such a fast pace, but it’s hard to book what our clients want as so much is sold out,” said one luxury travel advisor at ULTRA.

This holds true for 2024 as well. If clients are not making plans for the next few years, they may lose out on their choices for dates and accommodations, and that goes for cruises as well.

It’s thrilling to see that luxury travel advisors are again enjoying prosperity. We heard reports that sales for 2022 are surpassing pre-pandemic numbers, in some cases, by 30 to 50 percent.

What else is keeping advisors jazzed about the industry right now? There’s rise in the number of residential-style, full-service luxury apartment hotels coming onto the scene. Expedition cruising continues to be a growing niche that’s exciting to clients. New wellness offerings across the globe are of interest, particularly as clients have emerged from the COVID era with a refined interest in keeping themselves healthy and at the top of their game. Private jets, always a good thing, are even more popular, since the desire to travel without the crowds became a necessity for many affluent travelers during COVID. And there’s no rush to go back to getting on commercial flights with the masses. 

One answer I loved to the question of “What are travel suppliers doing that’s exciting to you?” was this response: “The only thing I can think of is that the airlines not charging change fees still... and hoping that this continues!”

Watch this space as we spill all the details of what went on at ULTRA. 

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