The Traveler Made business network, which brings together agencies specializing in the luxury tourism segment, will hold a congress in Marbella between March 28 and 31 to publicize the luxury offer that exists worldwide. The president of the organization, Quentin Desurmont, attends Málaga Hoy to explain the situation of the sector and what this exclusive public demands.
-What is Traveler Made?
-Is a network of 485 agencies around the world which has been 8.5 years. We are the only network of luxury agencies in the world that is not American and that is so international and focused so much on ultra-luxury. It is a network where the agencies recommend us to the hotels and they recommend us to the agencies. We measure the production of agents every year and if they really do luxury, and if they don’t produce, we remove them.
-What selection system do you apply to recruit agents?
-Our agencies we select them under the criteria of 20 million turnover and we choose them because are recommended by ultra-luxury hotels such as Marbella Club or Anantara Villa Padierna and we have evidence that customers send. In other words, an agency that calls us has to give 15 recommendations that come from hotels and local agencies.
-What characterizes the agents?
These agencies are small and have a average turnover of seven or eight million euros, meaning they can’t easily access all the luxury providers in the world and that’s where we play a role. What we do for suppliers is to put at their disposal a market with a turnover of 3.5 billion euros per year. And for them it is a possibility because they are exclusive and cannot belong to another network.
-What is the situation of the luxury agency sector?
-The agencies have lost 72% of turnover in 2020 and most of that other 28% has done it in the first quarter, with a growth of more than 50% compared to 2019. The rest have done very little or almost nothing and they are the same figures as those we have in hotels . In 2021, the agencies have grown between 60 and 65%, although there is a difference of the standard deviation because in 2020 everyone experienced more or less the same downturn. In 2021, the 65% growth came from some that did more than 100% and another 50% that stayed the same.
-And how much are the losses?
-We don’t have that data, but travel agencies are very flexible and the whole world is not the same. On Europe we were very lucky to have help from governments and the European Union and this has been important to keep the teams and not put people out of work, which is what many do in America.
-How can the end of restrictions in countries like the United Kingdom influence the reactivation of travel?
-It influences a lot because the super rich are the first to travel and many of them have made a lot of money during this pandemic because they have businesses that have not been affected. Others will be affected, but they are rich. When your fortune is a billion and suddenly you have 700 million, you still have money to travel and they want to travel because they have suddenly discovered that life is short and this can happen again tomorrow. Traveling is one of the strongest desires and they have realized that all the trips they had done before were suddenly an impossible thing to do and they realized that traveling is an incredible luxury.
– And how can it affect the war in Ukraine?
-It will affect because we have many travel agencies in Russia, in Ukraine and in neighboring countries. Of course, this business stops and there will be no travelers or very few this year from these areas and many hotels have always had a significant Russian market. It’s going to hurt Russian and Ukrainian hotels and agencies, it’s a disaster for all those people. -What business prospects do you have for this year? –I don’t think we’re going to reach 2019 levels because the possibility that the pandemic will rebound strongly in the fall has an impact. When people have to take a lot of tests, they are afraid that they are going to buy a trip and if one of the family is positive they cannot go, or when they return they have to take a test and stay in the country for 10 days in a cheap hotel. That’s a psychological problem that makes people, if there is a rebound in the pandemic in the fall, lower travel projects.
-What does the luxury segment demand?
-Super rich people want to do voyages of discovery and adventure as was done before with Cousteau or Marco Polo, discovery experiences that very few people can do but without risk and with luxury. Also trips of emotions. What is going to happen tomorrow generates emotions and we want to live, be and live together more than ever and be with the whole family. Another item is privacy and intimacy because during the pandemic people didn’t want to go to hotels out of fear and wanted private houses. On the other hand, there are the slow trips and going back to traveling longer, going slowly and making trips where they are going to really take advantage of having time. Then there are the luxury train trips, which work very well; or to see things that are going to disappear like many islands because of the sea level or the variety of animals that are going to disappear, so going to Africa, Rwanda or Uganda is part of this. The last element is spirituality, sites wellness like the Himalayas to do yoga, wellness or meditation classes are things they want to do more than ever.
-What is the profile of these fortunes?
-The first market is the United States, the second is China and Europe is still strong, but it is not growing as much. These are the sources of super travelers and most are business owners. There are also soccer players or singers, but most are businessmen.