The five commandments of luxury travel

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We talked to the experts in luxury travel and picked their brains to bring you these five selling rules.

1. Specialists are crucial 

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Virtuoso noticed this one.

Current marketing in the travel industry centres on baiting the customer and then hooking them up with a phone number to speak to a travel agent determined by geographic location.

“This is us telling the market that all travel agents are the same,” Virtuoso managing director, AsiaPacific, Michael Londregran said.

“What’s really interesting for us at Virtuoso is we’re having a huge amount of interest in our website and we aren’t going to put you on a rotating phone number that puts you into contact with someone who lives near you.

“Having someone who knows where you’re going might be important, but having someone who understands the travel style you want, whether it’s a family trip or an adventure trip or a ski trip might be important.”

So instead Virtuoso has a portfolio of travel agents where you can look at their experience, reviews of them, their travel patterns, and what they specialise in.

“You can make a decision far more intelligent than a rotating algorithm,” Londregran said.

2. Service is king

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One of the biggest trends is going to be how the industry promotes the professionalism of its people.

“Stop marketing just products or marketing shares in the share market, or marketing the financial advisors that give you advice on the share market,” Londregran said.

“I think the key ingredient to the quality of your travel experience is getting good advice from a professional. It’s not just the products you pick.

“It is possible that you can pick great products that don’t suit you. I can give you a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes that you absolutely love but they’re a size too small. And that just won’t work for you,” Londregran said.

3. Give authenticity not ostentation

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Another key trend is around recent changes in luxury travel, how it has been redefined and is now more about authenticity and adventure rather than indulgence and conspicuous consumption.

Abercrombie and Kent’s luxury travel report had 83 per cent of respondents agreeing that authentic travel experiences and encounters are as important as premium accommodation and that 81 per cent also believe luxury travel is as much about adventure as it is about service and comfort.

4. Thou shalt be philanthropic 

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According to Abercrombie & Kent’s research, half of the respondents to its luxury travel report now believe travel comes with a philanthropic responsibility (only 8 per cent disagreed) and that 79 per cent of respondents say travel makes the world a better place and has a noble purpose.

“Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy is now being registered as a charity in Australia, and we’ve just sent our first shipment of over 400 bicycles to Bwindi in Uganda, where the team has trained five women from the local town to set up and run a bike shop and bike hire business,” Abercrombie & Kent’s managing director Sujata Raman said.

Seeing those women renting bikes to Abercrombie & Kent travellers from Australia is one of the joys of travel.”

5. Hotspots and notspots 

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Abercrombie & Kent’s report indicated increased interest in the Baltic states as well as the Caucasus nations of Georgia and Armenia.

“Japan is currently the number one most desirable destination for luxury travellers, which really shouldn’t be a surprise based on the popularity of our recent Hosted Small Group Journeys and Luxury Expedition Cruises,” Raman said.

“Iceland and Morocco are also in the top three and Iran is in the top 10, ahead of the UK and Canada, which shows that luxury travel really is no longer just about five-star hotels and private airport transfers. But then we knew it never was.”

In terms of Africa, Botswana figures prominently, and it has been the flavour of the month in Africa for many moons now.

It is a place where you don’t need to make a trade-off between indulgence and adventure.

“On a luxury safari in a private game conservancy staying at an A&K-curated lodge, the two go hand in hand, or hand in glove,” Raman added.

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