LAS VEGAS -- Luxury travelers are increasingly asking their advisors to book last-minute trips, a panel of agents said Monday during a news conference at Virtuoso Travel Week here.

Josh Alexander of Protravel International in New York called it a trend he's "seeing but not loving." He added that clients booking last-minute trips often have "unrealistic expectations," indicating that customers and agents would both be happier with more travel planning. 

Jenny Graham of Quintessentially Travel in London said her agency ran a report on July bookings for hotel-only requests, finding that the average lead time was five days before check-in. Clients have tried to make reservations at hotels that have been sold out for months, she said.

Of late, last-minute calls have been weather-related at Goldman Travel Corporation in Bondi Junction, Australia. Managing director Anthony Goldman said families and couples are requesting last-minute trips to warmer locales.

"That's when our relationships come into play," Goldman said. "This is the difference. We know the general managers. We know the directors of sale. We call them. We email them. And sometimes, we can do something."

Graham agreed that connections matter. The morning of the panel, her team had a request from a Middle Eastern client who wanted two suites in Paris the following day. Thanks to Quintessentially Travel's relationships, the request was fulfilled, she said.

"It is a double-edged sword, though, because if you deliver, then next year they're going to do the same thing," Alexander said. Advisors should try to educate their clients to plan in advance, he added.

Wendy Davis of Zebrano Travel in Toronto says it's her job to be proactive, sending emails to clients to initiate discussions about travel planning. Zebrano Travel has long advocated for creating travel plans with clients, encouraging them to plan for the next five years, she said.

However, there will always be last-minute travel because luxury clients are often spontaneous when they have free time.

"That's great, but the big trips, the Africa, the Antarctica, the Southeast Asia, that requires a lot of planning. I think that is being embraced by our clients," Davis said.

 

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