Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Oct 07, 2019
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Luxury Gold shines for agents

‘We depend 99% on our travel trade partners’

Brett Tollman

Bob Mowat

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Luxury Gold depends on travel agents to listen, remember and support it, and clearly, Canadian agents have responded as Brad Ford will tell you.

“Luxury Gold experienced a very good year in Canada in 2019, where we had 22% growth which is really a point of pride for us,” he told Canadian Travel Press.

Ford, is president of both Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, and along with The Travel Corporation’s chief executive, Brett Tollman and the head of travel experiences for both Insight and Luxury Gold, Claire Hanney, and Tourism Ireland’s Dana Welch, hosted a special evening in Toronto recently to thank about 50 of their top travel agency partners for the support they’ve given to Luxury Gold.

He explained that the evening wasn’t a product launch, rather it was “designed to be a recognition of our very top travel advisors and a celebration of their incredible support over 2019, as well as the way that they’ve really embraced Luxury Gold.”

Ford told CTP that the idea for the event – which was hosted in partnership with Tourism Ireland and featured Irish, Michelin star chef, JP McMahon – was to show its agency partners that “the quality and the incredible luxurious touches that are being featured this evening are all featured throughout the many, different journeys that we have with Luxury Gold.”

Listen & Remember

While it’s clear that its agency partners attending the Toronto event understand what Luxury Gold is all about, the question is whether the agency community across the country is getting the message.

Said Ford: “They’re certainly getting there. And with a lot of effort, we’re certainly being able to talk to our guests [customers] through the travel advisors with more impact, shall we say.”

Brett Tollman, chief executive of The Travel Corporation’s (TTC), is quick to point out that: “We depend 99% on our travel trade partners to listen, to remember what it is about Luxury Gold that makes it different, what its key USPs [unique selling propositions] are and that’s why we host events like this.”

Tollman continued: “ We don’t do consumer advertising because we put all of our resources into our travel trade partners. We are dependent upon them to get it.”

He explained that over the past seven years, TTC has refined the Luxury Gold brand and its programs. Originally, it began as Insight Gold before becoming Luxury, and “it has been through refinement to make it the very best it can [be] with that feedback” from both agents and their clients.

“You’ve got to deliver what your consumers want and expect, but I think we’re 95% there,” Tollman said.

And, while he admits that agents have a lot to remember – with the number of brands that they work with – he points out that: “Our average commission is fantastic based on the price point of Luxury Gold [and] the fact that we don’t discount or give it away, and on every booking, 95% of the time, it is two people per booking, so that obviously doubles the revenue times the commission they get and they [travel advisors] shouldn’t forget that either.”

What’s the difference?

As for what makes Luxury Gold different, well, Tollman points to the fact “that we’ve been a provider and creator of incredible luxury experiences for so many years,” with examples including Red Carnation Hotels, Ashford Castle, Uniworld, wilderness safaris, and a number of other luxury brands and experiences.

“We have what I think is a clear reiteration of why we’re experts at delivering incredible luxury experiences and is a pure differentiator from what anyone else does,” he told CTP.

He explained that: “All Luxury Gold does is provide a very limited, unique, outstanding number of itineraries which are backed up by not just our chairman’s vision and commitment to put his name on this brand, but the entire global TTC team. And no one [else] has that footprint, as I say, from luxury hotels – such as the Milestone and Ashford Castle that are in the program – to our global contracting team that have gone out there and secured [those] hotels.”

He added that Luxury Gold is constantly refining its programs in terms of finding the best hotels for its guests based on their feedback and from feedback from its travel agency partners in order to create “the perfect itinerary” no matter where.

As for a message for Canadian agents, Tollman told CTP: “We are investing in our business and our future and the travel trade can book us with absolute peace of mind that their travellers will have an incredible time, will come back and book with them again because they had such a good time and are, therefore, appreciative of the holiday the travel agent booked them on. And they’ll tell others about what a great travel agent they have, so it’s a virtuous, beautiful circle. We just need more of them to join us in that circle and on that journey.”