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Beyond chandeliers and caviar: Anthony Goldman on the redefinition of luxury travel

Luxury travel is often associated with hefty price tags and opulent experiences. But what if true luxury goes beyond the superficial? Here, Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director of Goldman Travel Corporation, challenges the traditional definition of luxury and critiques the commoditisation of luxury travel today. 

Luxury travel is often associated with hefty price tags and opulent experiences. But what if true luxury goes beyond the superficial? Here, Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director of Goldman Travel Corporation, challenges the traditional definition of luxury and critiques the commoditisation of luxury travel today. 

“Luxury is about the way you feel,” says Anthony Goldman, who is also a Director of Link Travel Group.

“It’s a feeling from within. 

“This is where companies and brands, in their quest to grab market share are going wrong.”

The problem with commoditising ‘luxury’ 

According to Goldman, the term ‘luxury’ has been commoditised by global travel brands and doing so carries risks to the industry.

“Luxury has become a marketing term that hotels, cruises and some travel agency brands have grabbed to target the affluent travel spenders, to evoke a sense of exclusivity, sophistication, and superior quality, which can appeal to affluent travellers willing to pay a premium.”

To Goldman, luxury is about “the service delivery and the fine curation of the experience”. 

“It’s about that warm personal feeling you get in your tummy when you have experienced something that has made you happy, content, satisfied. 

“It’s not chandeliers and caviar. Luxury can be unplugged nature. It can be private time with your loved ones.”

He suggests that instead of calling ourselves luxury, we instead let the consumer “feel it”.

The risks of commoditising luxury, says Goldman can lead to “unnecessary inflated costs, customer disappointment, market saturation and a negative impact on those true luxury service providers”.

“There are cases of brands re-launching their image overnight and adding the word ‘luxury’ to their sub-titles and story. It’s impossible to deliver this.

“It agitates and annoys me, can you tell? It keeps my brother Dave and I up at night.”

What makes a luxury travel advisor

To Goldman, the number one attribute of a successful premium-luxury travel advisor is passion for travel. 

“If you are a robot tapping the keys, there are other roles for you,” he says. 

“If you have the passion, you will have a thirst for knowledge. And building knowledge takes time.

“The other skill is the ability to build rapport and relationships. We are in the relationship business. With our travellers, supplier partners, our colleagues and ourselves. That is all part of that luxury feeling. And we know that those with strong relationships with our supplier partners deliver the best experiences for customers. We have proven that time and time again.”

Goldman says that a premium-luxury travel advisor will prioritise the client’s experience over simply selling a product or maximising their commission.

“A true advisor in the luxury space will not only be motivated by their income,” he told Karryon.  

“Whilst this is important for socio-economic factors, they are focused on delivering that wonderful experience to their customer. They curate the best experiences and work with the right suppliers — not only those who pay the best commissions. Fact. 

“They will sacrifice a few dollars here and there to make sure the client stays in the right hotel, or experience the best cruise for them. I see this in our businesses, and I support it. My dad taught me this.”

Goldman says that while we are lucky to have “a wonderful group of experienced travel advisors in this space”, what gets him out of bed is attracting new people to the industry, particularly people from other careers who have a passion for travel and can see travel advisory as a “legitimate, lifestyle career that makes people happy and gives them the gift of time”. 

“We at Goldman have been successful in doing this. Eight of our team have come from outside the industry and are successful advisors.

The importance of educationals

“We also need to continue to educate our people,” says Goldman.

“At Goldman, we have a very aggressive approach to training and educationals. If we think a trip is worthwhile, we fund it. It amazes me that some agencies only contribute $1,000 and a few days educational leave per annum. That won’t get you far.

“Advisors have to see and smell a destination. Customers want and need to know an advisor has visited a destination, hotel, cruise.”

Anthony Goldman is not only the Joint Managing Director of Goldman Travel Group, he is also Chair of the Virtuoso Global Member Advisory Board, the first non-US based Chair, and a Director of Link Travel Group. Goldman is one of Karryon Luxury’s inaugural Advisory Board members.