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Hotel & Tourism SMARTreport #43

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ELITE TRAVEL TRENDS

ELITE TRAVEL TRENDS PLAYERS, HONEYMOONERS AND LOVERS OF FARNIENTE Virtuoso travel advisor Guido Graf – on current industry trends Casinos are increasingly becoming destinations in themselves. We asked Virtuoso “travel designer”, Guido Graf to share some of his insights about how he sees this market progressing. Guido Graf Virtuoso travel advisor JUST LIKE STOCKBROKERS, WE HAVE TO GATHER DATA AND UPDATE OURSELVES ON A DAILY BASIS When it comes to high rollers, the Casino provides special packages which, for Las Vegas Casinos, typically includes a private jet flight from Europe, a top suite, entertainment, and VIP treatment. My role starts with recognising the type of gambler the person is and ensure he is booked in the best Casino for his needs and budget. After I make the initial contact with the Casino, the Casinos will organise a lot of complementary services for high rollers, from a private jet with special catering, to a limousine on arrival and a VIP suite in the Casino. There are few European high-rollers, however. Most people will book a trip to California and stop in Las Vegas so they can visit a casino and gamble. This is the same idea behind trips to the French Riviera with Monte Carlo, or Macao and Reno. What trends do you see regarding honeymoons, private islands and beach resorts? In terms of trends, it is getting harder to say what is hip. But I do see a lot of niche interests developing. In general, I would say honeymooners still want the perfect island beach vacation (Maldives, Seychelles, or French Polynesia) to relax. However, we see more and more clients looking for a lifetime unique experience. This goes across all categories from cruises, expeditions, to cultural and even religious trips. The trend when it comes to private islands is that more and more groups, such as company incentives, friends, multigenerational families, are looking to stay on a remote and private island. Since there are only a few private islands in the Mediterranean, these kinds of trips are mainly overseas. It’s interesting to note that people are not always looking for sandy beaches and turquoise waters, it could also be adventure on a private island in Canada or Patagonia. Beach Resorts are always trendy. In the past few years, it has been amazing to see how many new luxury beach hotels have been opened and will open in the near future. This is good for the luxury market also, as many hotels are now forced to invest money in order not to lose their touch. Could you tell us a bit more about your role as Virtuoso travel advisor? What is a typical day like for you? Many people think that being a travel advisor is an easy-going job, but it can be quite challenging at times. Just like stockbrokers, we have to gather data and update ourselves on a daily basis to be able to provide the best service to our clients. Since we are an industry in which we deal with people’s most valuable time – their holidays – clients can often be demanding, as they want to have a perfect experience. As a Virtuoso Advisor, I would say the big difference is that we are communicating much more with the hotels in order to make sure the hotel experience for our clients is out of the ordinary

Hotel & Tourism SMARTreport #43 2019 Summer Edition 17 17 © Gudmundur Thor Karason LUXURY TRAVELLERS ARE SEEKING MORE SUSTAINABLE EXPERIENCES THAT BENEFIT BOTH THEMSELVES AND THE HOST COMMUNITY Eliza Reid First Lady of Iceland, United Nations Special Ambassador for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals ON LUXURY, SUSTAINABILITY AND AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES Exclusive interview: Eliza Reid - First Lady of Iceland, United Nations Special Ambassador for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals Eliza Jean Reid, First Lady of Iceland, recently attended ITB Berlin "wearing several hats”, as First Lady, but also in her role as Special Ambassador for the UN, and at the same time talking about luxury travel. We asked her how these roles co-exist. As travellers become increasingly aware of the social and environmental impact of their visits, they seek more “authentic” experiences that connect them with the local people, culture and nature of the country they are visiting. The luxury travel sector is no different, and in fact will enable tourists to contribute in a sustainable way to the countries that they visit. How important is tourism to Iceland’s economy today, and how is luxury travel evolving there? Is your background as a travel writer influencing this in any way do you think? Tourism played a crucial role in the recovery of the Icelandic economy and in local job creation following the 2008 recession. Today tourism is the largest export sector in Iceland, accounting for 42% of total foreign currency revenue in 2018 (Q1-3). The sector has grown from accounting for 7.9% of total jobs in Iceland in 2010 to 15.7% in 2018. Tourism has strengthened various local services and cultural activities around the country, benefitting both locals and visitors. Following rapid growth in tourism in recent years, an increasing range of services and experiences are available to visitors, including luxury travellers. Visitors have been enjoying salmon fishing in Icelandic rivers for decades, but now there is a vast array of luxury activities on offer, such as unique outdoor excursions, helicopter rides, exclusive geothermal spa experiences, heliskiing, and more. The availability and variety of luxury accommodation has also increased in recent years. As a travel writer, I endeavoured to share my experiences of a different location in an entertaining way, hoping to help perhaps shed a new light on a certain region or to inspire people to undertake their own trip. I didn’t write for any specific market sector, but I would always encourage sustainable tourism, whether in the luxury sector or elsewhere. How do you feel the “concept” of luxury travel is changing over time? I believe, or hope, that luxury travellers are seeking more sustainable experiences that benefit both themselves and the host community, and hope they travel with increased awareness of both the positive and negatives effects their visits can have on a community, while of course aiming to increase the former and minimise or eliminate the latter