This month’s Virtuoso Travel Week, which took place in Las Vegas, focused heavily on the EQ (emotional quotient or intelligence) economy. What exactly does that mean and what does it have to do with booking travel? Well, it’s one’s emotional intelligence, or, “the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).” The five EQ attributes are: self-awareness; self-regulation; internal motivation; empathy; and social skills.
For travel advisors who sell to the luxury segment, understanding the EQ factor is very important, because, according to Virtuoso, “regardless of age or location, the affluent feel that travel is important.” And to get even more specific, according to a joint study by Virtuoso and YouGov, 73 percent of those aged 55-64, 72 percent of those 45-54, 75 percent of those 35-44, and 73 percent of those 18-34 said that travel was “important to extremely important.” So what does enthusiasm over travel have to do with EQ? According to points discussed during one of the Virtuoso conference, travel makes your clients smarter—both emotionally and intellectually—and EQ rises with each trip.
Canadian-based travel advisor Cate Caruso, with True Places Travel, noted that, Multigenerational travel plays well into the EQ factor, because it’s that “component of being a little bit out of your comfort zone coupled with those people you love around you— that’s what locks in those memories and ups that EQ scale.”
In fact, the Virtuoso/YouGov study noted the top five reasons why people in the U.S. travel: 1. Relaxation/Family Vacation; 2. Cultural; 3. Adventure; 4. Romantic Getaway; and 5. Celebrations. Look at that from an EQ standpoint, and the reasons people travel are based on how they’ll feel—relaxed, connected with loved ones, excited by discovering new cultures, and fulfilled by helping the world and its people.
People also want to feel connected to the destination—through the culture, cuisine, surroundings or the places they choose to sleep, and domestic/short-haul trips are on the rise, up from 3.3 to 3.6 per year, showing the importance of reconnecting and recharging, even in shorter bursts. In terms of how much luxury consumers are spending per year for travel, the average is $9,897 (for Virtuoso travelers, this jumps to $20,645 per year). And almost half of luxury travelers spend 2/3 of their trips visiting new destinations.
According to the Virtuoso/YouGov study, there’s been a rise of private residence rentals, with those ages 18-34 truly embracing this accommodation choice. Multigenerational travel—driven by the desire to create lasting memories with the people you love most—is also helping lead the surge in private residences.
Other noteworthy points coming out of the Virtuoso/YouGov study include the rise in themed travel, with the 18-34 set leading the charge; and an increase in cruise night bookings.
Sustainability, too, was a topic in the Virtuoso/YouGov study, with consumers seeking companies that focus on: Preserving natural and cultural heritage; benefiting local people and economy; and adopting environmentally friendly practices. In terms of the EQ factor when it comes to sustainability, Virtuoso notes that “people inherently want to do the right thing—it makes them feel good—and social responsibility continues to be an important aspect of travel sought out by many. This is trending up, especially sustainability of culture and the environment.”
U.S.-based travel advisor Anne Scully, with McCabe World Travel, noted that, “You have to be a good listener as a travel advisor—what are [your clients] feeling. Do that deep dive into the emotional side.”