Anthony Lim, Managing Director, Asia - Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold talks about the prepared of his company to offer a safe and secure tour to tourists
Insight Vacations anticipates the rise of multi-generational travel in 2021 as people will seek to reconnect again with their loved ones and extended family members and friends. It will also expect travellers to look for holidays that offer them enhanced personalization and specific experiences where all the details are taken care of, allowing them to enjoy their holidays hassle free. Excerpts from the interview:
How do you see the scenario unfolding for the luxury travel in Asia?
As travel becomes more complicated, people will not travel unless they know that their well-being is well taken care of. This is where luxury travel can provide this reassurance where there is an entire team dedicated to taking care of everything, every step of the way, allowing guests to be able to enjoy their holiday without having to worry about the logistics. There will be more thoughtfulness towards taking a holiday, and we will see more travellers seek out experiences that allow them to spend time with loved ones or simply rejuvenate and recover from their hectic lifestyles.
What do you believe are the most important points to consider to ensure success for Insight Vacations?
It is most important to listen to our travellers and truly understand their needs. Through engaging our customers, we understand that there is a lot of concerns around the "what ifs". The Travel Corporation, under which Insight Vacations operates, has announced a specific Peace of Mind promise that gives our customers the confidence that our company is financially secure and highly solvent.
We have also introduced an industry-first innovation of having a Wellbeing Director on every trip having more than twenty guests. They will travel with the groups full-time to ensure guest safety while allowing travel directors and concierges remain focused on the travel experience. Our new wellbeing directors are specially trained to monitor and respond to any situations. Our dedicated team will take care of the details to help ensure guests, staff and suppliers are following health and safety protocols aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
We allow customers who have booked with us to change their booking up to 30 days prior to the departure of their trip.
What new SOPs and safety measures have you adopted to instill confidence amongst travelers?
We have taken additional measures to elevate our hygiene and sanitary practices following the outbreak of COVID-19 in accordance with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and as required, applicable government regulations. We have made the need for on trip insurance as a requisite to travel and will also require all travellers coming onto our trips to have a pre-trip well-being declaration. We have adopted a 3-step approach: Always on Support Team, Distancing & Hygiene Protocols and 24/7 Incident Response – to instill confidence among our guests.
Travel is going to be more complex. Are you tweaking your existing offerings or coming out with new packages to make it more suitable to customers?
The desire for more intimate travel is now become prevalent and Insight Vacations has responded by introducing new small, private group journeys for 12+ guests that are typically part of our Autumn, Winter, Spring (AWS) itineraries to Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and North America. Guests can now create their own travel bubble with this new Private Group Option. We have also changed our booking policies to offer our guests greater flexibility allowing them to make changes up to 30 days prior to when they start their holiday with us. If they need to postpone their trip or change to a different destination, they can do so without penalty on the land portion of their trip.
How are you preparing your frontline staffs to handle the situation post pandemic?
We have launched an e-learning module on our well-being measures for travel agent partners, along with well-being webinars. We have also created communications materials summarizing our well-being protocols, with details on individual components of our well-being measures for pre/during/post trip, so that our frontline staff can provide this information easily to customers.
Overall, the definition of luxury is going to expand post pandemic to ‘conscious luxury’. What is your take on this?
Covid-19 has impacted our world globally in huge way and is a wake-up call to all of us. One positive outcome from this pandemic is a greater awareness of people being more engaged citizens and conscious travelers. Having seen how nature has made a comeback during the worldwide lockdowns where our natural environment has been allowed to flourish while we stayed indoors, more travellers will seek to reduce their impact on our planet. There is also a greater desire for human connections, and travellers will seek more meaningful experiences that will positively benefit local communities and wildlife in the destinations they visit.
What new marketing strategy have you adopted to regain your business?
With many countries still on lock-down, we have focused our efforts primarily on inspiring travel using social media and other digital channels such as our blog and e-newsletters.
There is going to be a rise in wellness travel post pandemic. How are you preparing yourself?
Ahead of the pandemic, we have curated trips focused on wellness for custom groups. Whether it’s a spiritual retreat in India, a visit to Iceland’s thermal baths or a yoga retreat in the Mediterranean, we can help travellers plan their wellness holidays. We will evaluate how these trips appeal to our audience before expanding on our wellness offerings.
We have a trip that offers a spiritual retreat at the Ananda Luxury Spa in the Himalayas. We also have a trip to the Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort, located in the south of India. Like our guided trips, guests will be accompanied by an expert Travel Director who will arrange everything from accommodation, transportation and immersive Insight Experiences.