Demand for luxury vacations is rising
A Toronto-area travel agent says he’s seeing growing demand for travel, with luxury travel at the forefront of that growth.
Pat Probert of Bob Family Travel says that interest in travel is growing by “leaps and bounds,” a welcome development for a travel industry that has been struggling for most of the past two years.
Probert notes that he and over 100 clients sailed on Uniworld’s upscale SS Beatrice on a European waterway recently and there was widespread interest in a repeat sailing.
“When Ernie Balint, strategic manager for Uniworld, presented some of the upcoming Uniworld trips to the agents and Bob Family clients on board, many wanted to start booking right away,” Probert reports. “It was kind of funny as I was sitting in the presentation lounge, and I was receiving messages from clients that were in attendance and wanted to book on the spot. It just wasn’t just our clients wanting to book, but some of the other agents’ clients were also ready to book while on board the Uniworld Beatrice.”
Bob Family Travel’s 2023 Nile and Egypt departure is already 50% sold out and clients and agents alike are looking at booking Portugal’s Douro River on Uniworld as well as Castles Along the Rhine for 2023.
Mary de Almeida, manager of Bob Family Travel, reports that bookings for 2024 for their Bob Family Uniworld Paris and Normandy river cruise are already coming in, with clients booking a full two years in advance after the on-board presentation.
The agency is also receiving requests for full-ship charters for the Galapagos on Celebrity’s Exploration, a ship it has previously chartered for a couple of past departures.
Probert is also looking at a partnership with another TravelOnly agent and is considering chartering another of the Celebrity Galapagos ships for 2024/25 if space is available.
Probert adds that Regent Cruise Lines, an all-inclusive high-end product, continues to sell well, with a number of clients already booked for their February 2023 departure in the Caribbean followed by almost 250 guests booked for Tahiti and Bora Bora for their 2024 sailing as well as other destinations.
“Our strongest asset is our team who just got off the Uniworld Beatrice and continue to experience high end products,” Probert states. “First-hand experience helps us to establish ourselves as experts in selling higher end products. We continue to sell all types of products, however, more and more clients have little concern in spending more money if they are receiving value in return, so our focus continues to be higher-end cruise and land products. Our upcoming Uniworld Vietnam-Cambodia cruise in October is already sold out. If agents do not experience the product, it is harder to sell it and when clients see you posting on social media, they can see that you have the experience and they put their trust in you. In addition to our team are our loyal clients who continue to refer new clients to us for these high-end trips, which keeps driving our business to record highs. Our sales are now exceeding pre pandemic levels.”
Probert adds that his agency is “thankful to be able to share so much of this great world with our clients and agents alike and take them to destinations they would never think of going to on their own.”
Meanwhile, Monica Millin of La Dolce Vita Travel in Vancouver says last-minute bookings are becoming common, an unwelcome development.
“Clients are wanting custom FITs done within a matter of weeks. Hopefully that will end soon, as it’s really hard to do,” she states.
La Dolce Vita Travel specializes in Italy and other parts of Europe.