Demand for exotic luxury is growing, says Maurice Bonham-Carter, president and CEO of ID Travel Group. That’s why the company is expanding its portfolio in Asia to delve deeper into Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Do you see any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
With the abundance of new product coming on in Mexico and the Caribbean, there is opportunity to experience luxury at a more affordable price point with introductory rates. When markets are having challenges, we work closely with our partners to develop programs to creatively encourage travel, benefiting the advisor, consumer and destination.
What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers?
We are seeing an increased interest in the expansion of destinations and a desire for clients to experience other areas of well-known locales. For example, in Los Cabos, with the new developments outside of the tourist corridor in private locations on the edge of the Sea of Cortés, home to resorts like Amanvari. Or, in Indonesia, with the ultra-elite resort Nihi Sumba located on Sumba Island, a 50-minute flight from Bali.
How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
One of our greatest commitments at ID is educating our team and our clients, we are continuously exploring existing and new destinations in greater depth. While the resorts are important to meet a client’s personal taste, the destinations must also live up to their cultural expectations. In the past it was about finding the perfect beach; now, it’s about finding the perfect beach with the most exclusive experience, immersing clients in local culinary, art, history and philanthropy, all tailored to their personal preferences.
What new destinations have you introduced this year? What was the reason?
As a company focused on four- and five-star luxury resorts and experiences, it’s critical to our success to be in the know and to have the newest product. Recognizing the growing demand for exotic luxury, we strive to inspire our travel advisors with new offerings. We have expanded our Asia portfolio to delve deeper into Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia — all of which have recently been experienced by members of the Island Destinations team.
Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available?
Villas in Thailand, Anantara Angkor in Cambodia, The Sanchaya in Bintan Island, Sailrock Resort in South Caicos...this is a sampling of some of our most recent additions; we encourage our advisors to call or check our website for updates, as we are continually making them. With the expansion of our Asia portfolio, we are personalizing our itineraries to include more unique experiences. Our newest addition for train lovers is the Anantara Express, an upscale journey from Da Nang to Quy Nhon equipped with 12 seats, a bar, spa cabins and more.
What are some of the challenges on the horizon for tourism in general?
It’s always about finding creative ways to protect the customer while instilling confidence to travel. Today with luxury travel being such a big investment, a cancellation waiver is key. Our waiver allows the client’s trip to be fully refunded up until the moment of departure, while protecting the advisor’s full commission. Island Destinations also provides post-departure insurance on every booking for the unexpected mishap while in destination. Another challenge is overtourism. When we have clients interested in the floating markets in Thailand, instead of sending them hundreds of foreigners eager to get a photo, we will customize a tour to showcase a much more local and private experience. It is our job to assist our advisors in guiding their sophisticated travelers to the right destination and experience, while protecting their investment.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent is 2019/20?
Our focus is on consultative selling, specializing in offering options. We help advisors prove WHY the cheapest option for their clients isn’t always the best option. Selling up with value builds loyalty for the advisors as well as ourselves. For the past 35 years, we’ve been successfully selling exclusively to travel advisors and that’s not changing.