Italian DMC encouraging ‘slow season’ pivot

Virtuoso luxury on-site operator places stop sell on new bookings until May 2023

Credit: Polina Kostova

Luxury travel agency owner-managers have been encouraged to steer clients interested in holidaying in Italy this year to consider off-peak periods or less-frequented locations in the country.

IC Bellagio, an award-winning luxury-focused Destination Management Company with 24 years of experience in the field, has witnessed demand for high-end Italian holidays outstrip supply to the point it has placed a stop sell on new bookings up until the end of May 2023. Shortly, that freeze on new requests will extend to June.

In Fiji last week attending the 2023 Virtuoso AU/NZ Owner-Managers Forum, Marta Valsecchi, Itinerary Designer & Ambassador for IC Bellagio said the DMC can no longer accept new requests for May as availability is so limited, and using unfamiliar properties has its risks.

Rome's Aventine Keyhole attraction

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“We’d prefer to offer our clients the luxury experience that they are looking for, instead of going with suppliers that we are not as familiar with and cannot guarantee the level of service they provide,” Valsecchi told LATTE.

“At the end of May in Rome, it is impossible to find a five-star hotel with regular rooms available. Unless clients have the budget for a super suite, otherwise there are no rooms available.” 

“Very soon for June, we will also have to do a stop sell.”

“For now, there is still availability in July and August, but June is very, very busy,” Valsecchi said.

Demand for Italy is so high that suppliers have elevated tariffs significantly compared to pre-pandemic. Valsecchi cited one example of an IC Bellagio client who postponed their trip to Italy from 2020 to 2023. “The exact same trip for this year was 40% more expensive,” she said of the bewildering increase.

Headquartered on Lake Como, IC Bellagio is suggesting travel advisors push business to Italy’s quieter shoulder and low season – for travel between November and March. “It’s what we call the slow season.”

“We never have cold temperatures in Italy, especially in Southern Italy where temperatures never go under zero degrees, and it is a wonderful time of year with far fewer crowds and opportunities for visitors to get to know the local people.”

Marta Valsecchi, Itinerary Designer & Ambassador, IC Bellagio

Valsecchi said another benefit of travelling in the slow season, aside from availibility and non-peak rates, was finding tables at Michelin-star restaurants which is near impossible in June, and a more relaxed experience at museums and attractions.

Amalfi Coast alternative

When an alternative season isn’t an option for clients seeking an ultra-luxury holiday in iconic landmarks, IC Bellagio has solutions in places such as the Amalfi Coast.

“There are many wonderful five-star hotels on the Amalfi Coast and despite rates going crazy, it is impossible to find a room available in the most luxury hotels as they sell out first.”

“Now, when we receive a request for Amalfi Coast, we encourage clients to consider other destinations in the same area, for example, the island of Ischia, which is very close and just in front of Naples,” Valsecchi said.

“It is a very typical destination for Italian people who go on holiday in August. Between June and September, it is a wonderful location for foreign travellers who would like to experience a very authentic destination without the crowds of Capri or Positano,” she said.

Valsecchi noted that an advantage for Australia and New Zealand travel advisors booking their client’s travel with IC Bellagio is a 24/7 on-call brand Ambassador being available to handle all questions and requests.

“Our Ambassadors can make suggestions and recommendations to clients on activities, restaurants – from the moment they land in Italy. This is particularly handy for travel advisors in Australia due to time zones, meaning no late nights and having someone who can provide immediate answers.”


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