NEW YORK -- Travel Leaders Group (TLG) emphasized its
continued expansion into the luxury market last week, with CEO Ninan Chacko
calling the company "the market leader in luxury."
He made that assertion at a media event held at TLG's
luxury-focused Elevate the Journey trade show at Chelsea Piers here.
Chacko called the luxury segment a "primary focus"
for TLG, especially with its luxury-focused brands like Altour, Andrew Harper
Travel, Colletts Travel, Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group.
"There is no other travel agency company that has more
luxury travel advisers," he said, "and our advisers, we believe, have
set the standard for what it means to be a high-end travel concierge."
As supporting evidence, Chacko said that 140 TLG advisers
and staff members will be attending the International Luxury Travel Marketplace
(ILTM) next month in Cannes, France. The event is an annual, invitation-only
luxury show. About 1,600 buyers are expected to attend this year.
"That means Travel Leaders Group in total, across all
of our brands, accounts for roughly 9% of all buyers and roughly 20% of buyers
from ILTM's largest and most important market, which is the United States,"
Events like ILTM and TLG's Elevate the Journey, held
biannually, help advisers connect with suppliers to learn about product updates
and investments, of which there are many of late.
"We're sort of in a new, renaissance era of money going
back in, especially into the airline industry, but of course into other
segments, too," Chacko said.
With new hotels, aircraft and cruise ships coming online,
the demand for advisers who know the products and can match consumers with the
right one is growing.
Chacko called travel advisers "ambassadors" for
"These suppliers will, in effect, tell you that our
advisers are integral to their success, and all indicators basically forecast
growth in this luxury market," he said.
The luxury segment continues to grow. Citing data from the
International Luxury Hotel Association, Chacko said the market could grow to
$1.15 billion by 2022. Luxury travelers spend more on trips than regular
travelers and travel more often. Millennials are also more likely to travel and
place a higher value on it, Chacko said.
TLG is expanding advisers' presence in the luxury market
through lead-generation programs such as its Agent Profiler tool and marketing.
The company is also investing in the industry with its new
headquarters in midtown Manhattan, which will also house Protravel and Tzell.
The 106,000-square-foot space is a "strong testament" to TLG's
investment in its business, according to the Chacko.
Hotels and airlines
Michael Heflin, senior vice president of TLG's hotel
division, and Peter Vlitas, senior vice president of airline relations, shared
some trends in their respective divisions.
Heflin said hotel consolidation continues and the number of
brands keeps growing. He said that was likely because companies want to come
together to leverage common platforms while still offering a number of brands.
Recent years have also brought a major technology push into the hotel space.
Today most hotels are focusing on technology on the back end, such as
integrating loyalty and booking systems.
The trend of the connected room is also changing, especially
in the luxury sector: The technology is available for those who want it, Heflin
said, but often hidden. For instance, an iPad controlling the room's
temperature could be in a drawer and the television hidden by artwork.
In aviation, Vlitas said, advisers are becoming more and
more important because of the complexity of flying. Different planes,
configurations, fares and ancillaries are contributing to a more complex
"The industry, as it's evolving, as it adds more
complexity," Vlitas said, "needs an agent who understands the
complexity and can then translate that to the consumer."