by Ruthanne Terrero | Featured in Travel Agent Central
Dec 2, 2018 8:00am
If you use honeymooners as a bellwether, today’s consumers have a much more sophisticated palette for their vacation expectations. I recently interviewed expert luxury travel advisors in the romance market and they revealed that newlyweds are willing to spend for an off-the-beaten-path experience. They’re eager to fly to places below the radar and they want to be culturally immersed in their destination.
For the travel advisor, this means you need to find the magic formula for an itinerary that encourages romance and yet challenges and surprises your clients in non-traditional ways. This could come in the form of an amazing local guide who knows where to get the best cheese, wine and freshly baked bread in his city. Perhaps it’s the boutique hotel with amazing Wi-Fi strength that puts your clients in the heart of a city’s vibe. Maybe it’s that cruise ship that’s not just filled with cabins and restaurants; it has fabulous technology that leaves no one wanting, beautiful décor and attractions on board that will totally engross your clients while they’re at sea.
Clients are not the same old travelers anymore and that’s very exciting news for all of us.
Today’s client tends to be extremely well versed in what’s available and possible in travel, so it’s important they know what’s going on behind the scenes. I suggest you share with them Susan Young’s Cruise Innovatorsreport, which just debuted as part of our December issue. It hones in on what the top players are doing to enhance cruise ship hardware, technology, guest experience and sustainable efforts. Arming your customers with such a broad knowledge of the industry will not only wow them, it will make them realize that travel suppliers are doing more than they ever imagined in the back of the house to evolve the guest experience. This inside information will delight them and give them some very interesting cocktail banter next time they throw a get-together.
Word to the wise: Innovation will become more vital as the traveler becomes even more demanding. A recent study by Expedia Group Media Solutions, the advertising arm of Expedia Group, revealed that Gen Z, those born between 1995 and 2010, ranks activities and once-in-a-lifetime trips or bucket-list experiences well ahead of deals or lowest price, even more so than other generations. If you thought your Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers were savvy and demanding, get ready for a group that’s heavily reliant on social media, travel videos and deals to sway their vacation decisions. Their world has always included these influences. Members of Gen Z are quite young — the oldest are just entering the work force at 22 — but as they earn more we’re likely to find a discerning demographic thirsty for knowledge and experiences unlike any we’ve seen in the past.
Gen Z and honeymooners are not the only reasons to innovate. Our well-traveled Boomers and Gen Xers don’t want to repeat the same vacation experience each year; travel advisors need to have a constant, fresh stock of exciting options to offer them. Active, curious, demanding and sophisticated, these groups are also seeking new destinations and ways to be challenged (in good ways) when they travel — which certainly makes your job more interesting than ever.