Executive view 2022: Becky Powell, Global Travel Collection

Becky Powell is the chief strategy officer for the Global Travel Collection

For U.S. travelers, Europe is going to be just unbelievably strong — as long the rules don’t keep changing. Actually, even if they are changing, I think people are becoming used to getting tests or whatever they need.

Of course, domestic travel is going to continue to be strong. Residents are going to continue to explore their own country in 2022. In fact, advisors who only sold international destinations have had to learn the drive market and how to accommodate that.

The trend to private — private jets, villas, yachts — is going to last for quite a while. At the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), I was looking for more private villa inventory that’s not sitting with an aggregator or multiple aggregators. People want something that’s really exclusive, where you have to go directly to the owner or the property management company. Clients are asking for something that’s unique and that’s not shoppable.

And the desire for something exclusive is the same on the yacht side. At ILTM, I met with a yacht broker who has some amazing yachts, and he has these yachts exclusively. One of them is so large that it has a crew of 40. Those are the kind of things our clients are asking for.

Prices have gone up, and people are paying the prices, but I don’t know how long that will last. There is a concern that eventually companies are going to price themselves out of the market. When will that happen? It’s just hard to tell right now. As long as clients’ incomes continue to grow, we’ll be fine, but the minute the investments start going down, I think they’re going to get more price conscious.

One new trend is that more travelers are willing to travel alone. They’ll go out and do their own thing. They want to go on their own and stay in a luxury hotel, go to the spa by themselves, go to a wellness retreat. That’s going to be something that we’ll continue to see grow.

And wellness is going to be unbelievable in 2022. People are living healthier lives; that’s one thing Covid taught them. They’re very conscious about their surroundings and how to live healthier. Wherever they travel they want wellness to be part of that. They’re being a little more aware of what the amenities are in a hotel and make sure that if they’ve gone vegetarian or whatever, those options are there.

If they’re staying at a Four Seasons, clients at the very top want the private villas. They want the amenities that go with it, but they don’t want to be in the actual hotel. They want a residence or a villa that’s separate from the hotel. And for the festive season right now, there’s not enough inventory.

For tours, we’re seeing a trend where people are wanting FITs for small, closed groups — just friends and family — on a trip we design. And tour operators are accommodating smaller groups and really handling that very well.

Small-ship luxury is our fastest-growing market right now. Clients want smaller ships, and the brands offering smaller ships are doing very well. I think that will continue. That yacht I just told you about, the one that has a crew of 40? It can go through ice and to Antarctica and areas where the scheduled ships are. So you can send a client to Antarctica who doesn’t want to go on a cruise ship.

— Interviewed by Arnie Weissmann

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