Travel Associates to expand direct-to-consumer cruise events

More cruise partner shows and expansion of The Luxury Travel Event

Travel Associates is looking to expand its direct-to-consumer cruise events, building on the success of The Luxury Travel Event in Sydney and a recent showcase with an individual cruise partner.

Speaking with LATTE in Singapore at Travel Associates’ Luxury Business Leader Conference, Danielle Galloway, Global Managing Director for FCTG Independent and Luxury Travel Brands said Travel Associates had been blown away by the bookings generated on the floor at the sold-out Luxury Travel Event held on 30 April 2023.

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Cruise operators weren’t the only partners present at The Luxury Travel Event, but held a significant percentage of those participating, which included the likes of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn, Scenic, Avalon, Explora Journeys, Oceania Cruises, Uniworld, Lindblad Expeditions, Viking, Virgin Voyages and Windstar Cruises.

“We could have had double the advisors there,” Galloway said. She explained the Event was aimed at highlighting travel experiences available to the client, to “think about, dream, and consider” before connecting the client with an advisor along the pathway to transaction.

“But actually, the height of booking was on the day of the event which we hadn’t anticipated.”

On the floor at The Luxury Travel Event in Sydney on 30 April

Rachel Kingswell, General Manager AU/NZ, Travel Associates and Operational Director, Luxury Travel Collection at FCTG said the direct-to-consumer success for the boutique retail brand, post-pandemic, kicked off in April last year.

“We had a large event, straight out of the borders reopening, which had a very strong cruise focus that was a huge success, and had clients waitlisted.

“We have six exceptional businesses in South Australia — all wholly owned — and with a very loyal client base who love to do their business locally,” Kingswell said.

That confidence has Travel Associates poised to expand The Luxury Travel Event to South Australia in the future, along with the Gold Coast, a return to Sydney and a show in Melbourne, LATTE can reveal.

“What we tested with The Luxury Travel Event in Sydney was to broaden that scope,” said Anna Burgdorf, Global Brand & Marketing Leader, Luxury Leisure at FCTG. “Make it much bigger and look at a number of different areas, not just in the cruise space — but we do know that cruise remains an enormous opportunity for us.”

Quizzed about expansion of the event abroad, Galloway said “We always have global in our sights”, but dismissed a move to new international markets for the show at this time.

Previous direct-to-consumer events have leveraged Travel Associates’ advisor community that already exists in each location. Core markets where the brand has shopfronts.

“We are thinking big, looking big, and continuing that pathway,” Galloway added.

Burgdorf added: Importantly, we want to connect the right advisor with the right partner and the client. And the Travel Associates’ footprint is in Australia and New Zealand at the moment. We wouldn’t look to broaden to other markets as we don’t have the luxury advisor there.”

Travel Associates executive team in Singapore

In addition to the popularity of Travel Associates’ breakout Luxury Travel Event have been smaller scale lunches with individual cruise partners.

“We’ve already been operating very successful luxury cruise luncheons around the country and we’ll continue to focus on those cruise functions as they always sell out,” Burgdorf added.

“Direct to consumer – that’s an important focus for us. We recently completed a series of high-teas with Oceania Cruises and Langham Hotels. For us, it’s very much about how do we bring the client into that direct connection with a partner.”

“The success of the partnership with Oceania has driven interest from another party to come on board and do something similar – certainly in the cruise space there is this enormous appetite for the direct-to-consumer conversations, which we absolutely encourage.”

“Some of our most successful events are certainly cruise events,” Burgdorf added.

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