Our Top 25 All Stars reached beyond the norm to reveal what they say is changing the way we travel.
Millennials are embracing the use of travel agents.
“Millennials are our largest, fastest growing customer group…and that has helped Custom Travel grow significantly,” says Veronica Kastukevich of Custom Travel, who notes that being “tagged” or “liked” on social media has provided her agency with new customers and referrals that were not possible in the past. Where is the Millennial money coming from? “They are not concerned about home ownership; they are interested in experiencing the world. Many Millennials come in with travel experience from semesters abroad, something their parents did not have the chance to do. This background helps qualify a client to determine how I can make their next trip the best for them,” she says.
Bloggers and influencers are now an integral part of the travel industry.
“They have quickly taken over the reins as an excellent source of information for travel advisors and travelers,” says Jennifer Ruk of Strong Travel Services.
“Because they are continuously posting on social media they help us capture audiences we might not otherwise,” she adds. For this reason, Strong Travel has several influencers on its team. “They are researching new products and often doing social media take-overs of properties. Young clients are especially drawn to this type of advertising. Seeing influencers enjoy a fabulous property allows the client to picture themselves in that setting.”
Use of apps is here to stay.
“I’m seeing an increase in the use of technology tools to help clients while they’re traveling,” says Avis Leeper of the Avis Keown Leeper Agency. “A lot of travel agents are tapping into the number of travel apps out on the market. They often send apps that help with language translation, suggest things to do, maps, etc., to clients to download while traveling. Incorporating this technology makes sense for FIT bookings and can benefit both agents and travelers.”
Advisors are giving back.
Robert Merlin of SmartFlyer was inspired by a colleague and now donates part of his revenue every month to organizations important to his clients, colleagues or the travel industry. “It tells people we appreciate what is going on in their lives when they are not traveling,” says Merlin.
Recent world crises make personal connection even more vital.
Kristin Chambers of DA Luxury Travel is seeing that with the current political climate, recent weather disasters and other events happening around the globe, travelers want to connect with the land and people more than they ever have. “Most travelers want to ensure they have a ‘human connection’ experience and the opportunity to learn about other cultures,” she says.
Airlines (yes, airlines!) are getting nicer.
Paula Murphy of Valerie Wilson Travel observes that the airlines have become very proactive toward the consumer. “We have had an extraordinary year of natural disasters and they have demonstrated enormous flexibility to accommodate passengers and the travel community,” she says.
Active vacations are the new “must.”
Extreme over-indulging on leisure trips is a thing of the past for most. Shawn Power of Powerventures Travel Services Ltd., who specializes in river and small ship cruises, is seeing more of the lines including bike rides and hiking for guests. “Many travelers on cruise vacations want to remain active while seeing small, intimate parts of the world,” he says. “Today’s Boomers are more concerned with staying healthy and fit than ever before, and experienced travelers know that the more active they remain while on vacation, the more they can enjoy the culinary treats onboard the ship and not feel guilty about it.”