By Kate Rice
ABOARD THE NORWEGIAN BREAKAWAY — The traveler of the future will
look for the human touch, according to
speakers and panelists at the ASTA Global
Convention last week.
Carolyn Cauceglia, vice president of strategic sales and account management for
Amadeus North America, described a trend
away from the material and toward the experiential across the generations, including
active seniors (defined by Amadeus as those
born between 1945 and 1970) and NextGen
(those born between 1984 and 1996).
Active seniors, who by 2020 will number
700 million worldwide, or one out of every
six Americans, want to live life to the fullest.
“It’s time to put our bucket list on steroids, do what we want and leave a legacy,”
Cauceglia said, identifying herself as an active senior.
They also want to “do” vs. “own,” she
Active seniors, however, want a quality
experience, whereas NextGen travelers are
more about quantity. Their take is more “I
want to experience everything,” she said.
Trends like these are already producing travel consumers who are looking for
something different, said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group.
While the trend is toward experiential, he
said, it’s important to remember that experience is a relative thing and varies from
person to person.
Cauceglia offered an example of that:
“My dream travel vacation might be spas,
and yours might be trekking in the Hima-
layas. It’s all about having a travel partner
who anticipates and gets to know us.”
For agents that trend means having to
engage in real conversations both before
and after trips to learn the client’s “needs,
wants and desires,” Block said. “What we
are really getting down to is individual,
Block and other panelists underscored
that this is where the human factor is be-
coming increasingly important.
Nolan Burris, chief visioneer at Future
Proof Travel Solutions, said that travelers
increasingly are looking beyond the “
machine” for help with travel.
The continuing automation of services
once provided by humans means the “
options for human service have never been
lower,” Burris said.
And, he said, the more that companies
automate, the lower customer loyalty drops.
“You can be the antidote to that,” Burris
Consumers, he said, don’t want to talk
to an agent about dates and rates and how
many stars they’re looking for; they get
those answers on a website. They are looking for advice from a professional who will
take the time to find out what they want to
get out of a vacation and make appropriate
Block said that proof of consumers’ desire for the human touch can be found in
Travel Leaders’ agent profiler program, for
which each agent provides a description of
themselves and their specialties.
“In the first five months of the program,
we got 12,900 leads from people looking for
a specialist in a certain area,” he said. “The
closing rate was 19.8%.”
CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg
called that closing rate “unbelievable.”
Interestingly enough, millennials are the
group most likely to use a travel agent, Burris said, citing a Travel Market Report study.
They want someone to “pamper” them, he
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ASTA Global Convention panel discusses traveler of the future
Travel Leaders’ Roger Block, Norwegian Cruise Line’s
Andy Stuart and Collette’s Daniel Sullivan IV discuss the
future leisure traveler during the ASTA Global Convention.