Travel agents who promote luxury travel may rattle some prospective clients but that doesn’t mean agents shouldn’t do it, Baxter Media’s Wednesday Travel Agent Appreciation 2022 panel discussion was told.

Chris Nowrouzi of Toronto-based FlyGTA — which has a fleet of planes that carry people to points in southern Ontario and outside this country as well — said during the discussion on luxury travel that many consumers become “afraid” when upscale travel is raised, fearful they’ll be looking at trips with hefty price tags.

But Nowrouzi said that doesn’t have to be the case.

“I would do the research,” he suggested. “Luxury does have a range of prices.”

Nowrouzi’s suggestion was echoed by Elaine Carnegie of CanLink, who urged agents to “do the math” when it comes to reassuring clients who might believe luxury vacations are always pricey.

Tamara Mallin of Rocky Mountaineer — known for showcasing the Rockies and parts of British Columbia on upscale rail travel — said her company’s domestic sales “are through the roof,” adding Canadians “don’t always have to travel long distances for luxury.”

But Supinder Singh of Palace Tours cautioned that the pandemic is leading some consumers to believe that “everything must be cheap” as tourism companies try to rebuild their businesses.

Some products have limited availability, he added.

“Not everything has gone into a fire sale,” he warned.

Nowrouzi said he’s noticing heightened interest in some Caribbean islands that have smaller airports and haven’t been seen as accessible as some of their larger counterparts. Those islands include St. Barts and Anguilla.

Mallin in turn believes more people want to visit North American national parks, retreats that offer “wide open spaces” for visitors eager to get back to nature.

Singh stated that travellers are seeking more authentic experiences, such as stays in boutique hotels.

Carnegie suggested agents convince clients to book quickly as availability is often limited and they won’t want their clients to be disappointed.

Nowrouzi added that his company is seeing people opt for longer vacations as they’ve learned to work remotely and many no longer need to regularly show up at workplaces.

Singh said there definitely remains a role for travel agents as the pandemic lingers on.

“People want to disconnect but they want someone to guide them” through the likes of vaccination requirements, he said.

Mallin’s noticed a greater desire among the public to experience nature.

“We want to get off the computers. We want to get off Zoom,” she said.

More Travel Agent Appreciation 2022 panel discussions will be held today.




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