Q&A: Shopping

Retail therapy is a staple of many travellers’ trips overseas, so we asked Marsha Olver from Helloworld Travel Glenbrook, a veritable shopping expert, how agents can sell shopping holidays.

Which destinations are most popular for shopping holidays?

I find that trends come and go for shopping destinations. Right now the USA seems to be very popular. Bali remains an all time favourite for decorative homewares and furniture. Hong Kong, and of course China. A surprise entry recently has been South Africa, due to our dollar being great against the RAND (ZAR).

What sort of travellers are going on shopping holidays?

There are two main types of shoppers. Young successful professionals, who go for designer and new release items that offer better value than buying at home. The second — cashed up mature women, usually travelling for a celebratory birthday. They like to really to indulge in some serious retail therapy, as well as luxury experiences — day spa/hair/wellness retreats.

Are there tour operators who sell shopping tours and how popular are these?

There are a huge number of shopping companies who specialise in their particular cities; Shenzhen and Shanghai are probably the most common. They have evolved from the old idea where you were taken to a “Government” approved outlet and the guide collected a commission on the way out. You can pretty much name your desire and be taken to every place that supplies your fancy, including the Armani factory.

What should agents keep in mind when creating a shopping itinerary for a client?

I think when preparing a program for avid shoppers as an agent you have to get to the bottom of how much shopping a client really wants to do. There is a big difference between “liking” to shop and going on the basis of buying particular items. You need to be completely up to date on what is being offered and what price. It’s no good just recommending a place without knowing exactly what you are endorsing. Homework and research are a necessity if you intend to have happy clients return with the bargain of a lifetime!

How long would you recommend for an overseas shopping trip?

I would recommend any duration! I have known great shopping trips that can be as little as three nights or 7-10 days taking in destination based activities. Seven days is about the average, there is only so much a suitcase can take! Longer holidays are often planned further in the future, where shorter trips can be on the spur of the moment when cheap airfares are released. Any time is a good time to shop!