Iceland has been a trending destination for some time, and this year, it was named the top emerging destination on Virtuoso's recently released 2018 Luxe Report. It was also named the report's second top global destination, second top adventure destination and third top millennial destination.


The accolades for the country weren't a surprise for Cate Caruso, owner of True Places Travels, a Virtuoso member based in Albany, Ore.

"It's almost like there's nobody on the planet who hasn't either been to Iceland, who has a friend who just went to Iceland or a family member who's getting ready to go," Caruso said. "It's a remarkable destination in terms of visibility."

Caruso often sells Iceland at the request of clients, and last year, took a trip there herself to get further acquainted with the destination. She theorized that a combination of buzz about the country and air lift there have contributed to the popularity it is enjoying with travelers.

"Sometimes there's just the buzz, and that certainly gets people excited," she said.

Additionally, the number of airlines  both traditional and low-cost carriers  flying routes to Iceland from around the country offer attractive options to Americans. It's also a simple overnight flight, often with no stops, Caruso said.

"I think for the American traveler, they're seeing these low-cost carriers and they're seeing a lot of opportunity," she said.

It also helps that, although it's become a frequently traveled-to destination, "it kind of feels like an exotic, off-the-beaten-path destination," according to Caruso.

It can be a lucrative destination for an agent to sell. Oftentimes, Caruso said, clients come to her requesting Iceland.

She offered several pieces of advice for fellow agents looking to up their Iceland sales.

"The main piece of advice that I emphasize when I talk to my colleagues about Iceland: Set expectations for your travelers, especially if it's high season," she said.

Specifically, Caruso said agents with luxury travelers should prepare their clients.

"The luxury hotels are not what we typically know of as luxury in terms of the standards of luxury; they're few and far between," she said. "They're trying to build more, but right now, they're few and far between, so they're going to pay more for less. As long as you let your travelers know that, it's OK. But if you don't, they're going to be disappointed, or they're going to wonder what you're doing."

Caruso also said the country can be a busy one, and agents should encourage travelers to plan their trips early.

"There is so much pressure right now on the infrastructure in Iceland that if you're not planning ahead, you are going to be pulling your hair out because you're going to be picking up the crumbs," she said. "Your client is going to be in sticker shock when they see how expensive it's going to be."

Caruso said agents should encourage clients to travel during the offseason, like around Christmastime. Iceland is cold, she said, but not as cold as many believe it to be at that time of year.

"Even though it's close to the Arctic Circle, there's the North Atlantic current that runs by, so it's a much more moderate climate than one would expect," she said. "So if you want to get more bang for your buck for your client, and you're a creative adviser, think about offseason."

Agents looking to familiarize themselves with the destination more should take advantage of on-site contacts to help plan itineraries, Caruso said.

Trade shows in the country, like one run by Icelandair, have also proven useful to her colleagues who have attended.

Finally, Caruso said, "There's nothing like being there.
Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI