A panel of luxury travel experts painted a positive sales picture for 2022, reporting “record-breaking” bookings, a healthy appetite for holidays and a renewed reliance on the trade.
At this years Leaders of Luxury forum hosted by Travel Weekly’s sister title Aspire, Black Tomato revealed it had its best trading months in its history in September, October and November, with the company hitting its November target within the first two weeks of the month.
Dubai hotel Atlantis The Palm said October had been its “best month in the history of the resort”. It’s on track to unveil sister property Atlantis The Royal in Q4 next year and has further expansion plans afoot.
Private jet company Air Charter Service is expanding its headcount due to an increase in enquiries, with 20% of bookings each month coming from new clients.
And MSC Cruises’ new luxury line Explora Journeys, whose first ship launches in May 2023, is seeing demand for bookings into 2024, with sales for the vessel’s upper inventory “outpacing” the rest of the ship.
“The world is back up and running – not necessarily as it was before but places are opening up and people’s appetite is really strong,” said Black Tomato’s co-founder Tom Marchant.
“I’m bullish about next year but I think we have to approach everything with a healthy dose of realism for what can come.”
All panellists agreed the pandemic posed a “great opportunity” for travel agents.
Timothy Kelly, executive vice-president and managing director of Atlantis Dubai, said almost 50% of the property’s room inventory is brought in through the trade – a figure he expects to continue into 2022.
“When you have an experiential product, it’s very hard to express that online,” he said. “You need an expert [explaining] why this is a relevant choice for you as a customer.”
Jessie Howes, private jet director at Air Charter Service, said travel agent bookings were “on par” with last November, adding: “We are really gearing towards travel agents. People who don’t know how to charter go to their travel agents. It’s a booming market.”
Explora Journeys’ Helen Beck said market research had highlighted “a heavier reliance on travel advisors”, leading the line to create a ‘by appointment’ service for agents.
“Everything we’re doing is with the travel advisor at the heart,” she said. “We’re going to the guests through the travel community.”
Picture credit: Sarah Lucy Brown