When the economy is going through a rough phase, the tourism industry is not immune to the impact of this.
The reaction for many consumers is to tighten their purse strings and cut back on things such as travel and holidays, making travel seem like a tough sell to agents.
Disappointing economic data for Australia over recent months has given the Reserve Bank reason to lower its growth forecast for the country’s economy to three per cent this year and 2.75 per cent in 2020.
Falling house prices and weaker consumer spending have been flagged as the main domestic economic risks, while one economist has tipped the Aussie dollar to fall to 60 US cents this year.
However, in amongst all these doom-and-gloom predictions, there is a golden opportunity for travel agents to get on the front foot and thrive.
You see, while the overall tourism market takes a hit during tough economic times, there are still customers out there with money to spend that want to enjoy the fruits of their labour with a little bit of self-indulgence.
It’s these types of customers that make the luxury travel market an easy and lucrative sell for agents, according to the Council of Australian Tour Operators managing director Brett Jardine.
“For agents, it is important to firstly define luxury as the term can mean different things to a wide range of consumers,” he told Travel Weekly.
“When it comes to high-end holidays, where luxury is a common term, retail agents shouldn’t be afraid to invest a little more time in identifying potential from within their client base.
“The high-end client is generally more discerning and will appreciate a greater investment in time and attention. The reward for agents will arrive in the form of higher commission from generally more inclusive product.”
Inspiring Journeys is one tour company that’s making it even easier for agents to capitalise on the luxury sector.
Built on four pillars – ‘Discover’, ‘Explore’, ‘Immerse’ and ‘Relax’ – Inspiring Journeys prides itself on offering the perfect balance of freedom from the stress of holiday planning, with the flexibility for travellers to shape their personal journey.
Each itinerary is designed to be catered to customers’ tastes by offering a range of authentic and enriching experiences off the beaten track.
Lasting from five to 22 days, the tours visit some of the most idyllic, breathtaking and iconic locations in Australia and New Zealand in a small group of up to 20 travellers, with no children under 12.
Inspiring Journeys has thought of everything to make even the pickiest and demanding travellers as comfortable as possible.
Aside from being fully air-conditioned, its luxury coaches also include reclining seats, footrests, panoramic windows, an on-board restroom, phone chargers free WiFi, and complimentary drinks and snacks.
Inspiring Journeys also provides free arrival and departure transfers between designated airports and hotels. And, expert journey directors and/or driver guides will take care of everything else, so travellers can sit back, relax and enjoy.
Top tips for selling luxury
For those agents out there who are keen to tap into the lucrative luxury space, but are unsure of how to go about selling it, Inspiring Journeys head of sales Jasna Stevanja has some simple yet valuable tips.
Firstly, Stevanja recommends agents do their homework and find out what’s important to the customer and what luxury means to them.
“Identify and highlight those things and how what you are offering can give them that feeling of luxury through what’s important to them,” she explained.
Stevanja said agents should also highlight the value of what customers are buying and how it’s a good buy for them.
“Find out the key thing they want to experience, highlight that this is most likely a once in a lifetime thing, do it in style and make it as memorable as possible.” she said.
“Follow these tips and the tough economic times will soon become a lot easier for you and your agency.”