Advanced travel: ‘Adventures outside’ option for elite clients

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Says Americans are very passionate about travel A couple who specialise in upscale travel meetings says the hospitality industry is changing and is losing many customers. Demand for conferences…

Advanced travel: 'Adventures outside' option for elite clients

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Says Americans are very passionate about travel

A couple who specialise in upscale travel meetings says the hospitality industry is changing and is losing many customers.

Demand for conferences to organise elite clients, such as heads of state, is dropping off, prompting John and Charlene Verbleur to quit their day jobs in investment banking.

The couple started their online booking firm Adventures Outside in 2018 to capitalise on the decline.

One client they have so far organised a trip for was the wife of former US President George W Bush, Laura.

“She likes to travel in Europe and Asia,” John Verbleur told the BBC.

“She saw an opportunity to expand her client base and stay in nice places. We had to come up with a marketing plan for her that would excite her about what we could offer,” he said.

He added: “Americans are very passionate about travel, because we are a land of opportunity.”

Where does this leave the traditional travel agency business ?

There has been a steady decline in its growth in recent years. Some industry experts say that people who are currently unaffiliated with a network of travel agencies are moving into the market.

Joe Bush, president of the American Association of Independent Travel Agencies, told the BBC: “People can buy independent air travel to Europe or to Mexico directly from the airlines themselves.”

He said the most popular types of travel are mountain vacations – such as helicopter and hot air balloon trips – and smaller meetings with a small guest list.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Bush said many Americans would take a backpacking holiday, but will travel further

“You have the larger number of Americans choosing a more active way of living, perhaps travelling solo, or having a child or grandchildren,” he added.

But Mr Bush said that there is a market for businesses targeting the affluent and well-connected.

“Agencies have a chance to offer new services, and to make a comfortable and convenient experience for their affluent clients,” he said.

“Americans are going to continue to take these luxury travel experiences on their summer vacations. But they will take more comfort in travelling to the world than just the US.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption President George W Bush

Mr Bush said travel agents who offer more services and novelty will continue to be in demand.

“Agents will continue to thrive in this industry,” he said.

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