More than 650 U.S. and Canadian travel agents who sell luxury travel have seen their sales jump dramatically, and are optimistic the good times will continue, according to Travel Market Report’s first TMR Outlook on Luxury, the most comprehensive survey of luxury travel professionals in the marketplace.
The survey, to be officially released on Dec. 1, found that agents selling luxury had a banner year, with 16 percent growth. Almost half (44 percent) reported double-digit sales increases; while 25 percent saw their luxury sales increase by more than 25 percent; and 12 percent realized increases of more than 50 percent, in the past year.
Boston Consulting Group says luxury hotel stays and experiential vacations account for more than $439 billion in annual sales worldwide and are growing at a nearly 5 percent clip, meaning luxury travel agents outperformed the overall market by more than 300 percent.
Looking ahead, 45 percent of agents surveyed predict double-digit growth for the coming 12 months; with 21 percent of luxury-selling agents expecting luxury sales to increase by more than 25 percent; and 7 percent expecting a 50 percent increase.
“This research shows the power of the travel agency distribution system,” said Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president and co-publisher of Travel Market Report. “It also shows that suppliers who are supporting travel agents are seeing significantly higher growth than the overall luxury market.”
Among travel agents, the spoils were not equally divided. Some 72 percent of “heavy sellers” of luxury, those agents with more than 75 percent of their total sales coming from luxury, said their luxury sales during the past year increased by double digits. Two-thirds (66 percent) of “medium sellers,” agents with more than 50 percent of total sales coming from luxury, said they had double-digit increases; and 73 percent of agents with “big spenders,” clients who typically spend at least $25,000 excluding air for a seven-day trip, enjoyed the highest growth – with 73 percent reporting double-digit increases. Only 13 percent of “low sellers,” agents with less than 25 percent luxury sales, saw double- digit increases.
For 29 percent of heavy sellers, the past year was very good. They reported luxury sales increased by more than 50 percent. Only 2 percent of low sellers reported that type of growth. Nearly one in five heavy sellers (18 percent) expect to see luxury sales grow by 50 percent in the coming year.
More survey results to come
The survey also covers what agents do to ensure their luxury customers are satisfied, during the booking process and immediately before, during and after the trip.
In addition, agents reveal what amenities and activities can give one hotel or resort the edge when they have multiple properties that fit a client’s needs. The survey covers more than 30 activities, from fine dining to chauffeured sightseeing — trends like “meet the locals,” VIP access, attending events, and unique experiences — to determine which ones actually drive destination choice versus being add-ons when it comes to decision-making.
Insights into the interest of luxury travelers in Airbnb and shared economy accommodations; the impact of consumer media and travel bloggers; as well as how agents are using social media are all covered in the research.
Stay tuned to Travel Market Report for further highlights of the report prior to its release on Dec. 1st.