Michael Londregan, managing director Asia Pacific and Global Strategy, Virtuoso, deals at the higher end of travel expenditure but says listening to the client is the key no matter what market agents are in. ‘We’re not talking about luxury any more. We talk about personalisation. If I tell you what I’d really like is an authentic experience you don’t need to put me in a five star hotel and tell me it’s luxury. ‘There are times when customers want the traditional luxury product, sitting in a marble lobby drinking champagne and times when that is not what’s wanted.
‘The epicentre (of successful business) is listening to your client. If you are not listening you are only waiting to talk.’ Londregon says agents and brokers need to keep a close eye on the market – what’s hot, what’s not, why it’s hot and why it’s not. But just being bang up to play with what’s available is not enough, he says. ‘Travel professionals have to be not only product experts but people experts. What drives your clients, where do they want to go.’ Londregan says travel advisors who have a speciality or specialise will do better than a generalist. ‘If you are a generalist you’re really only someone who can book something. And saying you are good at everything isn’t really believable.’ Virtuoso has been in business 30 years and is now in 50 countries with 20,000 travel advisors and a turnover of just under US$27 billion.