Luxury travel is changing and it’s important you evolve with it. Here are some tips to stay on top of an industry that will continue to shift in the months ahead.
Become even more exclusive in 2021: The pandemic has spurred some advisors to finally retire or simply leave the business. Some of those departing are taking all the wisdom they’ve garnered over the years with them. If you are one of the true experts remaining, the value of working with you has just gone up. How do you tap into this newfound status? Create an online persona to showcase your knowledge and experience. Find an expert to help you if necessary, but don’t waste time wondering if you should promote your expertise.
Understand your new landscape: This year, agencies have merged, morphed and been absorbed into larger entities. Some have changed names and retooled, most have upped their game on the back end to improve operations and client services. It’s important you know what your friendly competitor now looks like so you’re not left looking like the same old, same old when travel reopens.
Divide and conquer: In a panel discussion produced by Passages of Distinction in October, Jack Ezon of Embark Beyond said he’s got people working on “today” issues and others working on “tomorrow” issues. I love this division of labor and mindset. Ezon and his team have innovated tremendously over the past few months, with luxury kids’ camp programs, daycations by private jet and teaming up with hotels to produce luxury face masks. The entire concept behind Embark’s “today and tomorrow” format is to position the company to attract the best customers. “Try to really think of who that dream client is, and how to get them, because there’s never been a better time for great client acquisition,” said Ezon.
Focus, focus, focus: Ezon also advises that a “client-centric” approach to business will reap rewards. “If you think like a client-centric organization, and everything you do is about your client, and you listen to them, you’ll find out things — whether they were related to someone actually traveling or not — that will bring you money, bring you profit, and keep you relevant,” he said.
Be a pod advisor: Jackie Friedman, president of the Nexion Travel Group, told us that she is seeing a trend toward small groups forming to travel in pods. These are like-minded people who are all following the same COVID precautions and testing so they can feel comfortable hanging out together when they travel. Advise your clients to form their pods now so they can fly away together when the moment is right. At the highest end, this would involve a group of families taking a private jet to private villas, but could certainly be scaled down for more traditional modes of travel. Be sure to become the advisor to the entire pod. (For more on small group travel, see what Largay Travel is doing with its “Please Go Away” brand.) Side note: Friedman sees cruise travel really starting to come back in the second quarter of 2021.
Savor your new strength: Now that the shock factor of COVID-19 is subsiding, realize that you’ve risen to a new plateau on which to function. Most advisors are no longer walking around in utter disbelief of what their new reality looks like, in fact, many have created new habits and styles of working that suit them just fine and while we can’t say we’ve seen it all, we’ve seen a lot and we’ve survived. As Eric Hrubant of CIRE Travel explains it, he’s now witnessed the worst-case scenario this year and he’s still here. “I think when things are a bit more normalized, I’m not going to have any fear,” he said on the Passages of Distinction panel.
Now that’s a great future to look forward to.