ILTM survey finds optimism among luxury travel advisors

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

As tourism slowly resumes around the world, a new global survey of luxury travel advisors bolsters early predictions that high-end trips would lead the industry's recovery.

The poll of the International Luxury Travel Market's portfolio of leading luxury travel planners found that more than half of the 1,000 respondents were confident the industry will rebound within a year.

The survey also found that since the outbreak of Covid-19, 64% of luxury travel planners had taken new bookings, more than half of which are for travel this year. Additionally, 72% of concierge companies report "substantial bookings."

Of those yet to take a booking since the pandemic, 72% anticipate reservations will climb within three months.

"My clients are in contact constantly to ask what is open and what is safe -- they are keen to go where and when they can as soon as possible," commented Brittney Magner of Royal Travel & Tours in Winnetka, Ill. "As the luxury travel market rebuilds outside the U.S., many of my clients are flying domestically, but also driving to explore our own country in the most affluent way."

Like other surveys and predictions about travel generally, the poll, which ILTM said was conducted to gauge what luxury travel will look like for the remainder of 2020, found that a lot of early luxe travel will be domestic and private. Nearly three-quarters of respondents, 73%, said their clients want to stay close to home, and 57% said clients have asked them to find private villas.

"Shorter trips were also preferred, meaning there could be more of them as the opportunity to 'catch up' occurs," said Alison Gilmore, ILTM portfolio director. "The use of private jets is also high up on preferences so that their trips can be taken at short notice and allows for group travel to be within their own family and friends."

Although Americans are still limited in where they can go, U.S.-based agents reported pent-up demand for international trips.

"The biggest challenge has been navigating when countries/borders reopen, especially if a client is wanting to travel far away and has to connect through other countries," said Ane Lowe of The Hungry Chronicles Travel, an affiliate of Strong Travel Services. "I have recently seen a positive change with more people wanting to get out and travel. I believe being in quarantine has made them really restless."

Respondents named Greece, Italy, Maldives, the Caribbean and Europe as the most popular destinations.

ILTM holds a series of events around the world each year to connect luxury agents with suppliers. While several have been canceled because of the travel shutdown, Gilmore said she remains optimistic that with "right set of circumstances ahead of us," ILTM will be able to hold its flagship global event in Cannes in December.

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