travelBulletin

LTC Member Portfolio fills critical market gap

The new FCTG division arrives at a time when the luxury travel industry is working as hard as it ever has.

THE Luxury Travel Collection’s (LTC) new Member Portfolio, which launched just under a month ago, fills a market gap in the Australian luxury leisure space, the new network’s General Manager Nikki Glading believes.

The Member Portfolio is focused on building and growing alongside its members, as the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) Independent division booms as one of the company’s most productive.

Independent was not attracting as strongly in the luxury space before the establishment of the Member Portfolio, Glading shared, with wholly owned travel agencies now offered an attractive proposition within the FCTG family.

Most of the members who have already signed up have been in business between 25 and 50 years, and have entrenched brands in their own right.

“Independent is going so well for us, and we love being able to contribute to this community of agents and use the Flight Centre buying power and the luxury ecosystem that exists because of Travel Associates,” she explained to travelBulletin.

“Nobody else has luxury leisure, so [we’re] able to go to these luxury leisure agencies who remain wholly owned and independent and say, ‘you have a brand that we celebrate and we want our names to be associated with, you’ve got a great reputation, we’ve got a great reputation, let’s build something together and grow together’.”

“What we are grateful for is people of such calibre and experience are joining the network so that we can learn from each other and grow.”

Adding to the power of the concept is how increasingly well-educated luxury travellers are becoming, Glading opined, which will ensure the sector continues to work as hard as it has been.

Although the combination of bucket list and revenge travel is continuing to fuel the luxury sector’s boom, the supply side in particular will need to “check itself” to ensure its value remains apposite.

“I think that luxury will work harder than everybody else… whether you’re an advisor or a supplier, everybody’s working harder than they ever did, because the booking time is longer out now, and the budgets are higher,” Glading explained.

“I do think luxury will need to remain relevant and check themselves in terms of revenue management, so if demand does back off, the suppliers need to be very quick to be aware of that and remain relevant at a relevant price point.”

“[Travellers are] still very much looking for value, so they’ll spend the money, but they’ve got to feel they’re getting value.”

Travel advisors remain a source of expertise to help the luxury sector keep its finger on the pulse of value, Glading added.

“Luxury travel advisors are at the forefront, they’re getting asked the questions every day, they’re comparing you against your competitors every day, they know exactly who’s the best value for their customer,” she added.

Glading said she had not seen any signs of the luxury sector backing up, part of which is down to higher-end travellers “living in the moment”.

“Part of it is, ‘I might not be here tomorrow’, so I’m going to upgrade to Business class, I’m going to buy the suite instead of the stateroom, I’m going to treat myself for a longer period of time,” she explained.

“People have a little bit more propensity to show themselves value and give themselves something that they that they treasure, so bucket list travel is off the Richter [scale].”

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