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If you’re the kind of traveler who wants to stay ahead of the curve, partnering with a luxury travel agency is your one-way ticket to an elevated experience well before takeoff.
At SmartFlyer, we understand that synthesizing how a luxury travel agency works can be confusing – but we’re all about transparency. That’s why we’re pulling back the curtain on our biggest event of the year which is centered on ensuring you continue to have a frictionless journey from the moment you begin dreaming up your trip until you return home. Join us as we take you behind the scenes with our SmartFlyer travel advisors and cherished partners across the hotel, cruise, airline, destination management company, representation company, and travel technology spaces. This is #SFCORE22.
CORE: More than an Acronym
Our agency-wide summit, “SmartFlyer CORE” was born in 2018 with a simple naming convention that encapsulated the pillars on which our agency was built: Collaboration, Originality, Relationships, and Education. Five years later, CORE symbolizes not only these tenets but represents a coming together of our advisors and partners around a shared passion for elevating the client experience. There was no shortage of logistic challenges to bringing together two hundred travel industry professionals in the face of the pandemic; but thanks to our partners at CLEAR Health Pass, we were able to implement and validate vaccination and testing requirements much the way that an international destination would as we collectively approach a safe return to travel.
Rosewood Miramar Beach
When it came to choosing a venue for our 5th annual SmartFlyer CORE, we decided to switch it up and convene beyond our home base of New York City for the first time. Instead, we looked to Santa Barbara for one of the country’s most sought-after hotels, Rosewood Miramar Beach. Set along one of Southern California’s most beautiful coastlines, this estate-style stay takes full advantage of the region’s sun-washed climate; its coastal locale provides guests an exploration of local heritage and culture as well as exquisite culinary moments. We couldn’t have imagined a more perfectly poised host property thanks to its ample outdoor space, stunning interior design, endlessly creative events team, and simply flawless food and beverage programming.
When it comes to designing our CORE program each year, one of our team’s primary goals is to ensure a level of customization that affords each attendee an impactful experience. This year, that culminated in an afternoon filled with Breakout Discussions amongst tailored groups with shared specialties. Topics covered ranged from what’s on the horizon in regions like Europe, South America, and Asia as well as cruise industry updates, experiential travel trends, and social storytelling best practices. These intimate conversations – each happening concurrently across four outdoor venues – allowed for advisors to seek answers from our partners and colleagues who are keyed into their areas of specialty across the world.
365 Report: Luxury Travel Agency Forecast for 2022
One of the most anticipated aspects of CORE each year is an evaluation of our production by our Managing Director, Erina Pindar. This analysis allows us to assess the destinations that our clients are gravitating towards and where we’re headed in the year on deck. This year’s 365 Report unveiled a number of interesting findings – so, we’ve compiled a few below for you:
Clients’ reinvestment in experiences is at an all-time high with adventure and exploration leading the way. Clients are booking highly active trips such as safari, ski, biking, hiking, and expeditions within the cruise and private jet segments. Looking at destinations there is a lot of interest in more unique places like Egypt, Peru, and Namibia to name a few.
Small group travel is continuing to rise in popularity, as it allows groups of friends or families to create their own bubble and COVID protocols. Partnering with a luxury travel agency allows for ease in coordination amongst mid-size groups when it comes to synching up flights, guaranteeing connecting rooms or booking villas, aligning dinner reservations, and planning activities ideal for small groups.
The one trend we consistently see across all product lines is higher value bookings and longer durations are here to stay.
Within cruise, the expedition segment is expected to grow above traditional cruises in the next couple of years. For the rest of it, future bookings are exceeding 2019 levels.
Into 2022, we’re seeing an evolving luxury map with new cities emerging and the comeback of large cities in the leisure segments. But properties that can offer a remote experience without compromising service or quality will win big – for example, Blackberry Mountain, Amangiri, Four Seasons Resort Lanai to name a few.
This year, we were thrilled to be joined once again by Jan Freitag, the National Director for Hospitality Market Analytics at CoStar. His keynote was centered on the state of the luxury hospitality market as we approach 2022. He shares, “Throughout 2021, American consumers voted with their wallets and traveled to the beaches and mountains, protected by two or three shots of a vaccine. Clearly, protection from the virus, while not perfect, has a positive impact on the desire to travel, be it for business or pleasure. So if vaccines are a robust response to the new strains, then the future of the ongoing recovery looks good.”
We wrapped our Speaker Series with a panel led by SmartFlyer’s founder and CEO, Michael Holtz centered on elevating the consumer experience. Panelists included Craig Thomas (VP of Sales, Qatar Airways), Sarah Frohnhoefer (Head of Hospitality and Travel, CLEAR), Kyle Mabry (Vice President of Global Sales, American Airlines), and Philip Meyer (Regional Vice President & Managing Director, Rosewood Hotels). The conversation covered how we can employ both technology and hyper-personalized service to ensure a frictionless journey across all aspects of a traveler’s journey from home to hotel and everything in between.
A Moveable Feast
For our closing evening, we decided to pay homage to “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway. With 2022 bookings well outpacing those of 2019 — the most successful year the agency had ever seen — the resurgence we are currently experiencing as intrepid explorers return to seeing the world has us feeling like it’s the Roaring 20s all over again. So, we celebrated in style with Hemingway’s quote, “…wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you…” in mind. This night of celebration was created to honor the diligent work that our travel advisors and partners do everyday to connect our clients to the places they’ll always remember.
Get In Touch
If you’ve made it this far, perhaps the age-old question of “how do I become a SmartFlyer advisor?” is percolating (we don’t blame you for wanting to be a part of the fun). Or, maybe you’re a traveler eager to learn how to partner with a luxury travel agency to plan your next trip. Thankfully, you’re in the right place for that too.