Travelers are willing to spend more to gain access to the personalization that travel advisors provide, according to a survey of more than 500 travel advisors within The Affluent Traveler Collection (ATC).
“More than fifty percent of respondents have seen an uptick in their clients’ budgets for next year; and nearly sixty percent charge a fee for their knowledge, time and service in creating meaningful, curated itineraries,” said Nicole Mazza, chief marketing officer of ATC. ATC is owned by American Marketing Group, which also operates Travel Market Report.
“As we see the shift from agent to advisor – particularly in the luxury market – we’re delighted to see that the expertise of the ATC advisors continues to be recognized and rewarded.”
As 2019 nears, here are the latest trends, according to The Affluent Traveler Collection:
Cruising into the New Year
A consistent trend, cruising is the number one pick among travel advisors for 2019, with 41 percent of respondents selecting river cruising as the vacation experience they believe to be most requested in the New Year.
Highlighting its popularity, two lines will debut new ships. Uniworld’s S.S. Bon Voyage is set to debut in April on the Dordogne and Garonne rivers in France; and AmaWaterways’ AmaMagna will depart on her maiden voyage in May on the Danube.
Meanwhile, nearly 15 percent of survey respondents chose ocean cruising as the most requested travel option for the new year. “Cruising is a perennial favorite, and 2019 will be an exciting year in the industry, with new ships and a rise in exotic ports of call – from Egypt to South America,” said Mazza.
Nearly 50 percent of advisors have seen a shift in clients seeking travel opportunities with sustainable brands.
“From the brands under The Travel Corporation, and resorts like Barcelo Maya Palace to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, travel companies are becoming more attuned to their place as leaders within the sustainability movement. It is no longer an afterthought, but instead, a priority as travelers look to not only explore the world, but also preserve it for future generations,” Mazza said.
Connecting to culture
With more than 75 percent of respondents noting their clients “have done their own research” prior to contacting them, ATC advisors agree that consumers seek their expertise to create experiences connecting them to the wonder of each destination.
Mazza noted that it’s the “small moments with a memorable impact” that are often most important on a trip. More than 60 percent of advisors view items such as a meal with a local family, early access to a museum, or the discovery of a new neighborhood, as the most requested part of an itinerary.
Although FIT continues to be popular, with 20 percent of advisors noting it as a trend for 2019, more than 50 percent have seen an increase in guided vacation experiences for the New Year.
“Part of the joy of a guide is that it allows clients the freedom to be in the moment, without thinking ‘what’s next,’” said Mazza. “As we continue to see a demand for exotic locations and off-the-beaten path adventures, we’ll continue seeing this as a trend on the rise.”
Venturing to new and old favorites
Advisors also weighed in on the most popular destinations among their clients. The top five ranked for 2019 are: Iceland, South Africa, Japan, Croatia, and Italy.