Using travel advisors for travel bookings, the emergence of new payment methods, and the rise of purposeful travel are three key trends in the world of luxury travel, according to Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel, who spoke recently at the Skift Global Forum.
“Across the globe, everybody wants to talk to a travel advisor,” Hendley told the audience during an interview with Rafat Ali, founder and CEO, Skift. “There’s a lot of information online, and it’s all up-to-date, but customers want to make sure that they’ve got it. Nobody wants to get to a destination and be disappointed, so travel advisors are at the top of the list there. Travelers want to get away; it’s been great. But they just want to know what to expect when they get there.”
New payment methods are also being used more frequently by luxury travelers, Hendley added. For example, travelers are using e-credit and travel vouchers to pay for trips, as well as buy now, pay later functionality, including American Express’ own Plan It program.
During the pandemic, customers had a lot of time to think about what’s important to them, noted Hendley. As a result, luxury customers are expressing and showing a greater interest in purposeful, intentional travel. These customers also want to work with partners that share their philosophies and values. American Express is meeting the needs of these types of travelers in several ways. One is around sustainability. Hendley discussed American Express’ commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, 15 years ahead of the Paris Agreement’s 2050 goal.
A final trend identified by Hendley was consumers supporting minority-owned and small businesses “so we can help them [meet the] goals they may have set for their companies.” In fact, American Express announced plans to drive $100 billion in consumer spending at small, independently owned retailers or restaurants on Small Business Saturday and during other Shop Small campaigns from 2021 through 2025, as well as plans to invest $500 million to build more resilient and equitable communities between 2021 through 2025 in support of new initiatives that combat economic, health, educational and societal disparities in communities.