When in doubt, con­sult a spe­cial­ist

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - LISA ALLEN

ARE cashed-up hol­i­day-mak­ers flee­ing in­ter­net book­ing sites and re­turn­ing to tra­di­tional brick­sand-mor­tar travel agents? Ap­par­ently so, ac­cord­ing to new re­search from Tourism Aus­tralia and Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers.

‘‘The time-poor lux­ury cus­tomer, seek­ing to avoid the in­creas­ing vol­ume and noise in the on­line space, will look to per­son­alised ser­vice that tai­lors the best prod­ucts around their needs,’’ ac­cord­ing to PwC’s Distri­bu­tion 2020: Si­t­u­a­tional Anal­y­sis report, which was com­mis­sioned by Tourism Aus­tralia to bet­ter un­der­stand how travel is booked. As the PwC report states: ‘‘The role of agents and tour op­er­a­tors is still ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal.’’

Spe­cial­ists such as the Gold­man Travel Cor­po­ra­tion seem to be par­tic­u­larly in favour. Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor David Gold­man says he likes putting the ‘‘magic top­ping’’ on the itin­er­ar­ies of his wealthy clients. ‘‘We give them add-ons like free break­fasts, room up­grades and per­haps a be­spoke tour when they are cruis­ing.’’ Gold­man ad­vises that ‘‘fol­low-ups are done to make sure they are looked af­ter . . . [the clients] want some­one mon­i­tor­ing their trip from start to fin­ish’’.

Lux­ury travel spe­cial­ist Clau­dia Rossi Hud­son, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Syd­ney’s long-es­tab­lished Mary Rossi Travel, says wealthy trav­ellers of­ten need a good project man­ager, par­tic­u­larly when they are putting to­gether a long and com­plex itin­er­ary. ‘‘Travel agents [can] save clients masses of time in the plan­ning process and po­ten­tially a lot of money,’’ she says. ‘‘Just as im­por­tantly, they end up with a more ef­fi­cient itin­er­ary.’’

For ex­am­ple, Mary Rossi Travel clients vis­it­ing St Peters­burg are in­vited to take pri­vate tours of the Her­mitage Mu­seum to avoid the long queues. ‘‘If [clients] have a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in, say, Rem­brandt, then we will tell their guide so they can go di­rect to the Rem­brandt ex­hi­bi­tion. And for some­thing very spe­cial we can or­gan­ise a din­ner at a pri­vate palace in St Peters­burg.’’

Aus­tralian Fed­er­a­tion of Travel Agents chief ex­ec­u­tive Jayson West­bury says that de­spite the pop­u­lar­ity of on­line book­ing sites, the num­ber of travel agents has re­mained un­changed at about 4000 re­tail lo­ca­tions across Aus­tralia for the past five years.

‘‘To Google your way to an itin­er­ary is dif­fi­cult,’’ West­bury says. ‘‘A lot of pre­mium lux­ury prod­ucts are not in­ven­to­ried on the web.’’ He adds that any­one seek­ing a multi-car­rier itin­er­ary will also have trou­ble book­ing on­line be­cause air­line web­sites don’t sell other car­ri­ers’ seats.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.