Zicasso, an online luxury travel referral service, and Select Italy, a travel company specializing in luxury Italian vacations, have announced a partnership that blends the convenience of online travel with the personalized service of offline destination experts. Both firms see this as a means to expand demand for luxury travel.
Zicasso claims that the new partnership is beneficial to both companies and their customers. Zicasso brings the online marketing expertise to attract online travelers while Select Italy offers the offline competency of a top travel specialist to provide the personalized service that travelers want.
The collaboration addresses a growing demographic of travelers who want to leverage the Internet to research and book travel, but still want to receive top quality customer service, destination expertise and authentic travel experiences from offline travel specialists, Zicasso says. According to Forrester Research, more consumers are now fed up with the complexities of online travel booking engines. In 2010, 28 percent of online travelers said they would use a good travel agent -- up from 23 percent in 2008.
The bulk of online travel sites provide only automated, self-service; offline travel agents can up the ante by offering highly customized itineraries, and booking complex vacations that include multiple destinations, activities and authentic experiences. Zicasso and Select Italy are demonstrating the success of a hybrid online plus offline model, Zicasso says.
Zicasso's online and offline model is proving to be a success in catering to the high-end, luxury travel market. There are four important operating principles that reflect Zicasso’s approach:
1. Carefully screen and partner only with the best custom travel specialists.
2. Develop in-depth, high-touch partnerships, providing detailed feedback and best practices to ensure mutual success with travel specialist partners.
3. Develop targeted marketing campaigns to match highly-qualified luxury traveler leads to partners.
4. Provide trusted travel reviews from real vacationers who booked and traveled with travel specialist partners.
Through its partnership with Zicasso, Select Italy has been able to reach a larger, luxury client base, particularly travelers who typically research and book travel online. Over half a million dollars in bookings have been confirmed, with good momentum in the past year in sales and in average bookings prices, which exceeded $15,000 per trip in the past three months.
In addition to sales growth, Select Italy further established its presence and reputation online with the overwhelmingly positive reviews provided by travelers who used Zicasso to plan and book their vacation with Select Italy. Zicasso provides the industry’s only transparent ratings and reviews system for travel specialists to build their online reputation; travel reviews are based on bona-fide reviews from real travelers who made actual purchases and completed their trips arranged by Zicasso travel specialist partners, the company says.
Select Italy maintains a 4.8 star rating (out of a maximum of 5) in Zicasso’s trusted travel reviews system. Future travelers considering the services of both companies can access these reviews knowing they provide credible, accurate information from a broad range of very satisfied vacationers, Zicasso says.
Andrea Sertoli, president of Select Italy, noted, “Zicasso is the only lead generation site that consistently delivers qualified referrals of luxury travelers to us. Additionally, Zicasso has been a valuable partner because they provide effective sales feedback and best practices that have enhanced our capabilities to sell to online luxury clients.” Brian Tan, founder and CEO of Zicasso.com, commented, “Select Italy is clearly a recognized leader in custom travel to Italy. Importantly, the highly favorable reviews from Zicasso travelers confirm that Select Italy is amongst the best-of-the-best in the industry. We see great opportunities for both our companies to expand our partnership and accelerate growth.”