Virtuoso: High-net-worth individuals want a holiday on the horizon

Agencies in hibernation need to remain proactive, says APAC MD Michael Londregan

Travel agencies that have put their businesses on hiatus during the coronavirus crisis and taken advantage of the Australian Government’s JobKeeper payments have been encouraged to take charge and be ready to flick the lights on again.

Michael Londregan, Virtuoso Group GM Strategy and Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, said the luxury network’s research has identified two mindsets among high-net-worth (HNW) individuals, both of which are encouraging signs for fresh business.

Speaking with LATTE this week, Londregan said that HNW clients don’t necessarily dodge financial crises, but they are better positioned to “ride out” the storm than those struggling to make ends meet.

HNW individuals are currently seeking either expert advice on where they can travel now or what they can do for Christmas, or setting a holiday target for future years.

He said that the wealthy travel market has exhausted the reminiscing stage of their last trip away over the past nine months and are now getting stir-crazy, and therefore, seeking a holiday vision.

Explaining the HNW individual mentality, Londregan said they need a travel advisor to put something on their radar for 2021 and 2022 that they can look forward to because they live their life with “big trips on the horizon”.

Michael Londregan, MD APAC, Virtuoso

I’ve got nothing there at the moment. So I’m more than happy to book an Alaskan cruise for 2022. I’ll go to the Galapagos, I’ll go on an African safari, but I want to make sure that if I book it and things go wrong I’ll get my money back. But I want to put something on the horizon,” Londregan said.

The local Virtuoso head said it was key for travel agencies that had put their businesses into hibernation at the start of the COVID crisis to remain proactive and aim to secure all new business. He cautioned agents not to be complacent.

If JobKeeper lulls them into a feeling that they are going to wait until the market’s 90% back before they turn their lights on, then that’s too late.”

Londregan said JobKeeper had no doubt helped the industry since its introduction in April but said the sector needs to make sure that, when it occurs, the bounce-back is not a “V-shaped” recovery.

“It’ll be a gradual recovery that we get our heads back into the game. And maybe there’s only 15% of the opportunity that exists now but we’ve got to stay proactive and secure that 15%. I’m a little worried that our heads aren’t in the game. Even though the market’s soft you’ve still got to be in it to capitalise on every opportunity.”

If an advisor is now only taking eight clients instead of 100, it’s important to do a great job with that eight.

“And that’s the key. Then progressing that eight to 10, and gradually increasing that number. I think hibernation is okay but as business starts you’ve got to get out there and get the conversations flowing. We are part of the recovery, we’re not waiting for it,” Londregan said.

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