The Asia Pacific division of luxury travel network Virtuoso was the fastest growing region for the company in 2018, with business up 24% year-on-year.
According to Managing Director, Michael Londregan, the result was “encouraging, but not surprising”.
About 50% of the growth was due to Virtuoso Asia Pacific’s expansion.
Speaking exclusively with LATTE, Londregan said the growth was up on the 2017 increase of 18%. Admittedly, last year’s stellar performance was off a smaller base, as the Asia Pacific region expands into the China and Asian markets.
“We got bigger. There were, for example, more advisors working for Goldman, more advisors working for Spencer. Fifty percent of it was the same people just selling more. It means our existing advisors are getting better at selling, and we are getting more advisors.”
“Asia is a firehouse,” Londregan said, “but we are starting small there, so it’s harder to get the same level of growth in an established market like Australia. But Australia is doing well,” he added.
Australia’s high-nett worth individual market is “really strong”. He said the expedition market was going gangbusters. “In fact it’s insane. Our numbers are crazy, but I suspect that we’ve left money on the table because of the capacity issues. We couldn’t get any more people on board.”
Antarctica, the Galapagos, Sri Lanka and Iceland were big markets.
“People are now looking at their bucket list and saying, Hey, what was the nuttiest thing on my list. I want to get that done.
The Virtuoso boss said the network’s travellers are trending towards the “smaller is better” philosophy.
“If people liked 40 passenger coach touring, they now want 20. If they liked 20, now that want 10, if they liked 10, now that want 5. So small is hot. Anything smaller is better. More intimate is better, and that scaling down of everything is becoming important.”
“Remote is also very really cool. People are very interested in nature, and very interested in going to places,” he said, citing 340% growth in the space.
He grouped Sri Lanka, Iceland and but non-traditional Japan in that pool. “People are getting out and exploring.”
“Our Japan business was up 340% up. That’s insane and our number one complaint was that there was not enough capacity.”
Londregan said luxury travellers now want to “drill down into a destination”, and cautioned that people selling package holidays at “normal pricing” are “getting killed” by flash sites which are trimming pricing.
Non traditional Europe was big, with destinations such as Portugal and Greece up for the network.
“The great thing for the Aussie market is the world is their oyster. They are willing to go anywhere, so if there is a location which sees a trend, we move, our trends, whereas in America they don’t go, they just shut down.”