Luxury travel is no longer about the golden taps and marble bathrooms; it's about having access to unique and special immersive experiences that you couldn’t arrange on your own, says Jon Grutzner, president of Luxury Gold. The new “Your Way” concept lets travelers choose between included activities, while new journeys in Colombia and Ecuador immerse guests in the local community. We caught up with Grutzner to find out more on the latest trends.
What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers?
Luxury travel is no longer about the golden taps and marble bathrooms. Having the right standards across the board is a given but does not define luxury anymore. It’s about having access to unique and special immersive experiences that you couldn’t arrange on your own nor do with anyone else. Travelers want a seamless travel experience. The human connection and traveling with a company that cares has become increasingly more important in the luxury space. Our main demographic continues to be the Baby Boomers, but we are now seeing young professionals, families and even honeymooning couples travel with us.
How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
Luxury Gold combines guided and independent exploration. While the overall framework of the itinerary is planned, we always ensure that we build in plenty of free time for guests to explore the destinations or enjoy the facilities of the hotels they stay at. A Traveling Concierge will be there for you if you need help with making arrangements for dining and local experiences outside of the itinerary. We have introduced a concept called “Your way” which allows you to choose between two included activities on certain days. Go on a foodie walk in Florence or visit the Accademia with an art expert. Through our bespoke professional development program, our Traveling Concierges deliver personalized service and create a tailored vacation experience. Our dining ranges from Michelin-starred meals, to hands-on cooking classes or Dine-at-Home experiences at a local’s home.
What new destinations have you introduced this year? What was the reason?
We’ve added a new journey to Colombia, which is also part of our exclusive Chairman’s Collection, and a ME to WE sustainable journey in Ecuador. For Colombia, the Chairman’s Collection departure includes a meeting with Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vasquez, best known for his 2011 award-winning novel, “The Sound of Things Falling.” A unique part of this trip is when guests travel in Medellin, because they will meet a Comuna 13 survivor who lived there when the city was most dangerous. The place was notorious for Pablo Escobar turning it into the crime capital of the world. Our guests will discover more about the area’s gruesome history and how it has reinvented itself into one of Medellin’s coolest neighborhoods On our new five-day journey to Ecuador, guests can choose to extend their Treasures of the Incas journey to Peru with a unique visit to the Amazon. Luxury Gold has partnered with social enterprise ME to WE, connecting guests with indigenous communities and facilitating participation in a sustainable international development project — where they will help build local infrastructure as part of a WE Village’s development project.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
In joining select immersive luxury journeys with Luxury Gold, travelers can interact with locals by learning more about their daily lives and artistic efforts. We firmly believe that we can make a positive impact on communities we visit through our unique partnership with the TreadRight Foundation to make travel matter. Through this partnership we have supported more than 50 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. Making travel matter sits at the core of what we do. Some examples of projects supported by Luxury Gold and TreadRight and the itineraries guests can join, which allow them to learn about these projects, include trips to Ecuador and Peru via the “Treasures of the Incas” itinerary; Perugia, Italy, during the “Ultimate Italy” itinerary; and Rajasthan, India, via the “Imperial Rajasthan with ME to WE Experience.”
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2019/20?
New for 2020, Luxury Gold has implemented curriculum-driven agent training with an emphasis on destination knowledge and selling tactics to source high value guests. They’ll learn about our history, the Luxury Gold difference and how we’re bringing back the Golden Era of Travel.