Luxury travel is one of my favorite specialties and it’s getting a lot of attention these days.
Of course there are many ways to specialize as a home-based travel agent — by destination, by mode of transportation, by activity, by demographics, by psychographics, the list goes on. But luxury travel has a special allure for many of us.
For starters, (and if I may borrow a line from bank robber Willie Sutton) it’s where the money is. To make the picture even more attractive, spending by the top five percent is booming, even as spending by the rest of us is leveling off. Add to that the fact that the affluent and the super-affluent are fairly easy to identify and reach out to and you have a real winner.
Of special interest to home-based travel agents is the fact that more travel suppliers are making a special effort to reach out to this sector of the marketplace with offerings tailored just to them.
Luxury Travel Gets Noticed
Behind a locked door aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship is a world most of the vessel’s 4,200 passengers will never see. And that is exactly the point.
In the Haven, as this ship within a ship is called, about 275 elite guests enjoy not only a concierge and 24-hour butler service, but also a private pool, sun deck and restaurant, creating an oasis free from the crowds elsewhere on the Norwegian Escape.
If Haven passengers venture out of their aerie to see a show, a flash of their gold key card gets them the best seats in the house. When the ship returns to port, they disembark before everyone else.
“It was always the intention to make the Haven somewhat obscure so it wasn’t in the face of the masses,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s former chief executive, who helped design the Escape with the hope of attracting a richer clientele. “That segment of the population wants to be surrounded by people with similar characteristics.”
Mr. Sheehan’s rather snobby dismissal of “the masses” aside, here is a product that can be an easy sell to the right client. It can also be an “aspirational” sell to your clients who might not be able to travel in Haven-style luxury all the time (prices start at about $8,000 per person for a week’s cruise) but who might be tempted by a splurge for, say, a twenty-fifth anniversary.
One of the things that the Times overlooked (or at least didn’t highlight) is the fact that the cruise lines mentioned in the article (Royal Caribbean was the other) are basically middle market products. That is, they appeal to and, by and large, are priced for those who are not in the top five percent financially.
Offerings like The Haven are intended to poach some of that luxury travel business from cruise lines like Seabourn!
I would propose these ultra-fancy options from Norwegian and RCL to clients who are already familiar and happy with them and who are prospering. If they like the extra pampering, dedicated luxury travel products like Seabourn would be the logical next step. Of course, you are free to market as you see fit.
Luxury travel is not confined to the high seas, but this post isn’t intended to be a complete course in selling travel. But I want to get you thinking about how selling luxury travel might fit into your home-based travel business.
Think, for example, about the commissions. Luxury travel = luxurious commissions. If you’ve enjoyed collecting the commissions for $3,000 cruise bookings, imagine how much fun it will be to get one for a $16,000 one!