Travel Agents

The rise of the ‘Travel Designer’ & how they’re replacing agents

Tara Harrison

Travel Weekly has spent quite a bit of time this year understanding the rise of the Travel Designer and how the face of agencies is changing.

In July, Vogue declared travel agents are the new black.

The article made major waves around the industry and claimed there’s a “fresh new crop of travel experts—more aptly described as travel designers—who offer resources far beyond the basics of organising flights, lodging, and tours”.

“These designers create trips that you can’t just book online, trips for travellers, not tourists. And discerning travellers, at that,” Vogue author, Jenn Rice, wrote.

Following on from that, Seabourn’s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Chris Austin, said agents should be called something else again.

Agents should be called ‘lifestyle planner’ instead of agent,” he told the crowd at the Cruise360 conference.

Austin explained that with agents forging better client relationships and getting to know their lifestyle choices and history, it’s less about selling travel and more about creating amazing life experiences.

So, with Vogue and The New York Times both heralding the incarnation of the Travel Designer, we sit down with luxury industry pundits to find out the day-to-day life of these new travel connoisseurs.

Who is the Travel Designer?

First of all, why a travel designer, and not a travel agent?

Our experts believe, particularly in the luxury space, that designers are future-proofed, heavy on service rather than logistics.

“The best analogy is the stock broker and the financial advisor,” Virtuoso Managing Director Michael Londregran said.

“The travel designer takes each trip or client enquiry with two hands, picks it up and apart, and looks at it for every angle while grilling their traveller with hundreds of question.”

“Every detail is thought through: travel times, aircraft, where to sit. They have insider info, contacts, they’re only a phone call away, 24/7, they swing upgrades, arrange surprises, are present during each step of that trip,” Smartflyer managing director Eliza Woodward said.

It roundly is the difference between booking logistics and holistically working out what the client needs and desires and making the logistics fit that outcome.

“A travel designer offers a more personalised service and is an expert in designing the best tailor-made itineraries,” Ensemble Travel Senior Vice President Trish Sheppard said.

“Agents should be called lifestyle planner instead of agent,” Seabourn senior vice president of global marketing Chris Austin said.

What do Designers do?

Generally there is going to be an existing client relationship. For those without, however, designers need glean as much information from the client before they begin designing an itinerary.

Bespoke luxury travel agency, The Tailor, has this down to a fine art.

“Nothing is left to chance,” Managing Director, Drew Kluska, said.

“The key and skill of our travel designers is to quickly be able to interpret what they are being told and translate that into a journey. We have a very clear set of questions that we have developed over 20 years to extract this information.”

“The luxury space is about personalisation more than anything else – clients are looking for tailored solutions to their individual needs,” Londregran said.

“Having existing knowledge of clients and their preferences is earned over time and this knowledge allows advisors to deliver different experiences for clients.”

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Technology

Luxury Escapes CEO and marketing boss make quiet exit

by Huntley Mitchell

On the flipside, the online travel company has just appointed its first chief growth and consumer product officer.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Helloworld punished for “technical oversight”, with company shares suspended on ASX

by Huntley Mitchell

Andrew Burnes has been left red-faced after Helloworld left out some “technical information” in the company’s unaudited FY20 results.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Australia’s Tourism Restart Taskforce says preparedness of airlines, airports critical in reviving international travel

by Christian Fleetwood

Interestingly, the Tourism Restart Taskforce is lacking a representative from Australia’s airlines or airports.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hotel Wrap: Nominate a mate for a Club Med holiday, QT Hotels launches dog stays + MORE

This week’s Hotel Wrap is all about spoiling yourself and your clients with a host of deals, competitions and doggie stays.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Flight Centre to close at least 90 more stores

In sad news, domestic and international border closures have caused further store closures for Flight Centre, leaving it with 330 of the 740 stores the brand had before COVID-19.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

DFAT accidentally reveals email addresses of Aussies stranded overseas

by Christian Fleetwood

The embarrassing blunder by DFAT comes after it reportedly terminated as many as 100 contractors, with some of those having worked in IT and policy roles.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Road & Rail Wrap: Rail Europe teams up with Aeronology, Mary Valley Rattler champions accessibility + MORE

Have your Thursdays been feeling hollow of late? Like there is some kind of gaping void gnawing away at the day? It’s probably because we haven’t run a Road & Rail Wrap for a few weeks.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Become a certified ‘SA Expert’ and gain access to exclusive offers (plus a whole lot more)

by Sponsored by South Australian Tourism Commission

With nearly all domestic borders open to South Australia, now is a good time to get up to date on the best experiences this state has to offer.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Julie King launches global platform for industry learning and collaboration

The new platform will host a FREE 10-week webinar series, so you’re practically losing money if you don’t attend. At least, that’s our understanding.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Rex signs letters of intent on six leased 737s for domestic routes

Rex’s ambitions of becoming a domestic route competitor to Qantas and Virgin are becoming a reality. Next step: a team song.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Corporate Travel Management raises $262m to help fund US acquisition

Much to the delight of CTM’s executives, investors have wasted no time snapping up newly-offered shares in the company.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Cruise Wrap: Carnival reveals Mardi Gras atrium plans, Silversea revamps online training + MORE

This week’s Cruise Wrap is so hefty, we reckon that if each letter weighed a tonne, it would equate to a 4,000-pax ship. However, we’re not mathematicians and we also haven’t made any effort to count each individual letter.

Share

CommentComments