For Luxury Travelers, Serve Up Fabulous Experiences in Fabulous Places

by Judy Jacobs
For Luxury Travelers, Serve Up Fabulous Experiences in Fabulous Places

As clients continue to seek out new and out-of-the way destinations, those for whom money is no object increasingly desire one-of-a-kind experiences customized specifically for them. Many of these experiences are in places that may still be a bit of a novelty for agents to sell.

“The consumer is very curious and very interested in the world. The notion that something is too far away is over,” said Ignacio Maza, executive vice president of Signature Travel Network, at the cooperative’s annual Sales Meeting and Trade Show in Las Vegas this week.

“Whatever people dream of we have to deliver,” he said.

Those dreams extend beyond destinations, and agents should tailor their sales pitch accordingly, suggested Marni Granston, director of sales for Ker & Downey, a specialist in experiential luxury travel.

“Sell the experience instead of the trip,” said Granston.

where in the world 435

Upscale clients of course want luxury properties, but it’s what they do during the day that will leave lasting impressions, and that’s becoming increasingly important, she added.

David Lee of Into Japan also noted the trend. “We’re doing more and more unusual and highly tailored experiences,” said Lee, managing director of the Tokyo and Oxford, England-based firm.

Travel Market Report spoke with tour operators to discover what some of those experiences might be. Here’s a sampling.

Japan: Temples & Taiko
“We’re doing more and more unusual and highly tailored experiences. For example, an American architect living and working in Japan takes people to Japanese temples and explains them from an architectural viewpoint. We’ve taken groups to Sado Island to see how Kodo, the famous taiko drum troupe, trains and get a lesson of their own.” – David Lee

Ballooning in Burma
“In Burma, an ultimate experience is a hot air balloon ride over the temple ruins at Bagan, and we will soon arrange four-day point-to-point balloon tours.” –  Gregg Geoghegan, director of sales and marketing, Trails of Indochina, Newport Beach, Calif.
 
Field-level action in New Zealand
“We arranged for a professional NFL player to play rugby with the New Zealand All Blacks.” – Marni Granston

Vietnam: learn from a master chef
“In Vietnam, families or small groups can charter the six-suite five-star Violet for a private cruise of Halong Bay. In Saigon, clients can rent the traditional home of Henry Cabot Lodge [who served as ambassador to South Vietnam from 1963 to 1964] for private dinners or a cooking class with a famous Vietnamese chef.” – Barbara Bryant, managing director, Trails of Indochina

Turkey: dine with the ancients
“We rented out Ephesus for the evening for a client group of four people. They had a private candlelight dinner with a string quartet. All the servers were dressed in period costumes.”  – Marni Granston

Understanding Chinese art
“We have arranged white-linen banquets on the Great Wall and trips down a tributary of the Li River (Guilin) in bamboo rafts. We take clients to studios of major artists and fashion designers. In Beijing, there’s a private $300 million art collection, which people can see, and be taught by the owner how to understand Chinese art.” – Margot Kong, vice president marketing & business development, Imperial Tours, San Francisco

India: prayer ceremony on the Ganges
“India offers several experiences. Outside of Jaipur, clients can take a private elephant safari for two to six people, ending with a champagne breakfast, if it’s in the morning, or an elephant polo match. In Varanasi, we can arrange an evening prayer ceremony on the banks of the Ganges at a haveli (a small historic mansion) and get a priest to interact with the guests, and then they will have a private dinner.” – Vikram Madhok, managing director Abercrombie & Kent India

Where in the world are your clients going? Click here to take a brief survey and win an iPod Touch!

See related story: Hot Destinations: Clients Choosing Roads -- and Rivers -- Less Traveled

  1
  1
Tip of the Day
Remember that we are in an amazing business and you help people fulfill their dreams. Sometimes we just need to look around again to remind ourselves that we are in the mansions of industries with really fun and exciting products to sell.
 
Scott Koepf, TMR Columnist 
Daily Top List

Top Three Travel Destinations For Fall

1. Havana, Cuba

2. Lisbon, Portugal

3. Madrid, Spain

Source: Elite Daily

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Low-Cost Airline XL Airways Will Now Offer Flights from New York to Tel Aviv
Low-Cost Airline XL Airways Will Now Offer Flights from New York to Tel Aviv

Fares include one checked bag, one hot meal on each flight, and wireless entertainment.

Booking Flights Direct Doesn’t Delight Passengers, Study Finds
Booking Flights Direct Doesn’t Delight Passengers, Study Finds

New study finds that booking direct flights through airline websites made passengers less than happy.

Peter Greenberg: Hotels Imitating Airlines Is “the Road to Disaster”
Peter Greenberg: Hotels Imitating Airlines Is “the Road to Disaster”

With four airlines now owning a majority of the market, hotels seem to be heading in the same direction, Greenberg, the travel editor at CBS News, told a meeting of the New York chapter of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International.

After Damage Done by Irma, US State Department Issues Cuba Travel Advisory
After Damage Done by Irma, US State Department Issues Cuba Travel Advisory

Though major roads are now open in Havana, conditions on the island still merit caution following damage from Hurricane Irma.

U.S. Airlines Brace for Impact from Continued Hurricane Disruptions
U.S. Airlines Brace for Impact from Continued Hurricane Disruptions

Harvey, Irma, and more storms have forced airlines to lower expectations for 2017 as some consider passing on losses to consumers.

More Than 20 Injured in Possible London Tube Terrorism Attack
More Than 20 Injured in Possible London Tube Terrorism Attack

Fire erupts during morning commute from what police think was a homemade bomb.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Imagine Bliss