In honor of ILTM – International Luxury Travel Market 2018 (the largest luxury travel forum in the world) which is taking place as we speak, we would like to think back to this time last year and the special events that took place during this world renowned industry affair in 2017, when our very own Victoria Zindell both attended & actively participated in the week’s big events.
Victoria Zindell (formerly ‘Strubbe’) was recognized as one of Travel + Leisure’s Rising Stars in 2017 and was invited to speak as a guest on one of the panels at ILTM. This incredible honor goes to a small group of today’s top young travel agents, each handpicked by a member of Travel + Leisure’s Travel Advisory Board. These advisors were flown to the Côte d’Azur to share their insights at an exclusive luncheon hosted by Nathan Lump, Editor in Chief of Travel + Leisure magazine, and numerous high level travel industry executives. The advisors that were invited were able to provide insight and fresh perspective on staying relevant to a new generation of travelers.
Victoria began her career in the travel industry as a hotelier, representing some of the finest and most highly acclaimed hotels in the world. Armed with a sense of adventure and an incredible attention to detail, she made the switch to planning luxury journeys for travelers near and far. Her passion for travel has helped her set up countless unforgettable adventures for her clients.
The Rising Stars event at ILTM welcomes many CEO’s, owners and top-level execs with the top luxury cruise lines, hotel brands, tour companies, airlines and more. During the panel, Victoria was able to share her story and address many of the current topics facing the travel industry. Here are some highlights of her discussion.
What travel experience has shaped you the most, or significantly changed your perspective, over the last year or so?
My recent travel experience to New Zealand in June of 2017 has become one of my all-time favorite and most memorable. It’s one of the cleanest and most pristine destinations in the world. The fresh air you will breathe is unlike anywhere else and the diverse combination of dramatic scenery left me speechless and anxious to return.
This trip really changed me as it allowed me to dive in deeper into my passion for adventure via outlets such as hiking, boating, helicoptering, and skydiving. When visiting Queenstown, a visit to Kawarau Bridge is a must for those wanting to experience a real adrenaline rush. As cliché as it may sound, jumping off that bridge at the first drop zone in the world, allowed me to conquer my fear of heights and overcome my insecurities. The feeling of doing something you thought you were previously incapable is truly amazing and has brought me a new-found confidence as if I could take on anything in life moving forward.
What are the key differences you see between each successive generation of travelers?
There are major differences that are apparent between these segments including the way travel is prioritized in each group’s life as well as their spending habits.
Baby Boomers are traveling because their children have grown up and they want to travel when they can. This is the age group where cruising really picks up. They like the convenience, luxury, and variety while they have the most disposable income to invest towards vacation. This age group is wonderful for multi-generational travel. This has become a very popular trend in previous years and they prefer to travel socially and in groups.
Gen X is a busy group with children of their own. This segment is interested in travel but time is a bit more sparse so they tend to stay closer to home. They tend to be driven by reviews and research they have done online, or where their friends have been. For families, it is all about unique and special experiences that provide togetherness and memories to be made.
As a Millennial myself, I can speak first hand as to what I see with my peers and their strong desire to travel abroad as much as possible. With many young people waiting even longer to begin families of their own, money saved is being used towards their next long-haul flight or two-week trip rather than a down payment on a home. Travel is perceived as sexy and cool and, although this is not always the case, we feel the benefits far exceed the less than favorable part of the trip. We definitely are focused on the experience (and capturing the photos to share along the way) more than comfort.
Every year, there seems to be a new destination that emerges as a must (Iceland, Portugal). What would you say will be the must visits for 2018 and what is driving the interest in those destinations?
There are certain destinations that will always be popular and travelers will continue to go back to time and time again. While Rome, Florence & Capri will always be at the top of the list, there are a number of destinations that there has been more buzz around in the months prior. I think many of us will see pick up in travel to these destinations next year.
Japan is really growing in popularity and has become a hotspot for family travel. The major cities here are infamous, ancient and bright. Great for foodies, culture, and exploration. There are so many unique islands and national parks to explore. It is also attractive to get around by taking the bullet train between the big hubs.
Croatia is incredibly busy with new properties and projects in the works to accommodate the increased demand that this region has seen. The setting here is spectacular and the neighboring regions offer incredible beauty too. There are some really nice destinations we can coordinate with a Croatia itinerary allowing time for views of the Adriatic, medieval elements, museums, great food and vibrant nightlife.
Peru is in incredibly high demand and looks like it will continue to thrive into 2018. It is an incredibly diverse destination with distinct colonial architecture and a spectacular coastline. There is so much to see and do for individuals who are outdoor enthusiasts and enjoy being active. It seems as though Machu Picchu as on everyone’s bucket list so to avoid tons of tourists it would be worth considering May timeframe or late September to early November.
Can you share your thoughts on what you think the word “luxury” means for people as they travel today and in the future?
Luxury is about unparalleled experiences that have a profound impact on an individual’s life, whether this is through cultural immersion, volunteerism, exclusivity or behind the scenes access that others may not have the opportunity to experience. It is about being authentic and having a true experience that is different than what may be considered typical for a tourist. It is about providing a bespoke experience that is tailor-made for the client and tells them “you spoke, we listened.”
Level of service has always been an important item defining luxury as every traveler likes to be recognized by name and feel that their preferences have been dually noted. We like to make friends and building relationships. Local hoteliers, drivers and tour providers helps to enhance our overall experience and feel “special”. “Luxury” today is much more understated and laid back in terms of what we expect. I think before it was more about the amenities, artwork, thread count and gold leaf, whereas now it is more about the authenticity and experience provided that is distinctly different.
Pleased to be recognized by in the travel industry as a “travel insider,” Victoria is honored to share her fresh perspective on the new breed of travellers and could not be more excited about she and her teams future together in this always changing and ever exciting industry.
In the Digital Age, where the technologies in circulation seem limitless, the role of the travel advisor can seem obsolete to some but it certainly is not. Yet, in the luxury travel market, travel agencies are booming with 40% of all luxury trips being booked via an advisor and our team at Luxury Ventures Travel could not be more excited to be a part of that.
To review the full report from the Rising Stars luncheon with Travel + Leisure & exploring insights into the evolving luxury market with highlights from the ‘Stars” conversation including:
- Buzzwords: authentic and transformational
- Geo-politics and its influence
- Bridging the generational divide
- Social awareness and consciousness
- Preparing for future challenges in travel
Please feel free to download a full copy of this T+L | ILTM Cannes report HERE.
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