For the first time since 2019, members of the Affluent Traveler Collection (ATC) came together this week for the ATC’s Annual Symposium at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort at San Marco, Fla.
Over 100 of the invitation-only, luxury travel marketing group’s members joined 40 preferred partners in San Marco for four days of networking, learning, and inspiration ahead of 2022 and 2023, two years that are expected to be extremely positive for the luxury travel segment.
“There's nothing better than being back in person and seeing members face-to-face," Nicole Mazza, ATC's chief marketing officer, told TMR. "This is a relationship business and this week, it felt like coming home, it really did. It was like being back together with family and it was very much needed. It felt like being back home."
The conference, which was highlighted by a keynote from Carnival Corp. president and CEO Arnold Donald along with talks from Explora Journeys' Chris Austin and motivational speaker Michelle Ray, included a lot of optimism about the rebirth of the luxury travel industry coming out of COVID-19.
"People are looking for bucket-list trips with longer duration," Mazza told TMR.
"As Chris Austin said, premium is going to become luxury, and mass-market is becoming premium. People are saying that I am not waiting any longer to do the things I want to do. People want to travel."
"The consensus amongst all of advisors and suppliers is that business is coming back. That the luxury client is coming back and people who weren’t luxury coming into that space," Kathryn Mazza-Burney, NEST's executive vice president of sales, told TMR.
That sentiment, along with a focus on leadership during turbulent times, were the main themes of this week's symposium.
Preferred partner expansion and a new brand campaign
ATC is quickly expanding its preferred partner reach.
This week, during the Symposium, ATC announced a number of new additions to its preferred partner portfolio that will bring it well over the 1,000-partner market.
On the hotel side, those additions include Red Carnation, IHG, Intercontinental, Kimpton, Wynn Las Vegas, Fifteen Beacon, Curio Collection by Hilton, and more.
Outside of that segment, ATC also announced the additions of Explora Journeys, private aviation Star Jets International, Greek DMC Escape Journeys, and FIT Tour operator GT Experiences, along with several tourist board offices covering Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Bahamas.
While that expansion is very much an international one for ATC, the group has had an over 300% increase in exotic business mostly lead by Africa, something that Mazza attributes to the growing desire for consumers to take those bucket-list vacations that were put on hold because of COVID.
Also this week, ATC announced that it will launch a new brand campaign specifically designed to highlight how its members can help consumers build their ideal luxury vacation.
The goal of the campaign, which will be unveiled in a series of trade and consumer advertising, along with social media, is to drive leads to ATC advisors. In 2020 and 2021, according to Mazza, ATC managed to drive over 15,000 consumer leads to its members.
With the new campaign, the group expects that number to grow even further.