Selling first and business class air travel can be an important part of a travel advisor’s services, particularly for those who specialize in luxury travel, according to Keisha Adriano, President and CEO of Travelwise International in Fort Washington, Maryland.
Travel advisors who have a good understanding of air travel can act as “airfare experts,” helping luxury clients find the best deals and in-flight experiences. By advising clients on preferred airlines, cabin classes, premium cabin inclusions, lounge access, transfers, lodging, and VIP services, they can add the personalization necessary to create a seamless, worry-free, and memorable travel experience.
“If you can sell higher classes of service tickets, it is more beneficial both to the traveler and to the advisor,” Adriano notes. As clients move up in classes, fares have less restrictions and more refundability, making handling top-tier tickets easier for advisors. Marcia Simon, owner/travel advisor at Friendly Group Travel in Westbrook, Connecticut, agrees that booking air travel for upscale clients makes sense, as it can help to attract and retain luxury clients who appreciate good customer service.
Who’s Flying in Front?
Keisha Adriano, the President and CEO of Travelwise International in Fort Washington, Maryland, notes that front-of-cabin air travel is not only for high-end travelers or business/frequent flyers. Adriano explains that it can also be appealing to those who are celebrating a special occasion or who have health or accessibility needs.
Marcia Simon, the owner/travel advisor at Friendly Group Travel in Westbrook, Connecticut, notes that first and business class can be sold to various types of travelers. She explains that some business clients prefer the front of the cabin, but many use their mileage points for upgrades. For group travel packages that do not include airfare, some clients will book basic economy, while others prefer main cabin or the upgrade.
Charity Peaver, the owner and CEO of Esprit Errant Travel LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, notes that both business and leisure travelers may choose to book the front of the cabin for more space and privacy to work, access premium lounges and services, or experience the highest level of service, such as lie-flat seats, gourmet food and beverage options, and personalized attention from the cabin crew.
When to Sell First and Business Class
According to Simon, she doesn’t try to oversell anyone and instead follows the client’s preference when it comes to booking more expensive classes of service. “If clients prefer to fly business or first class, they tend to mention that upfront,” she explains. “I ask for their preference and I don’t try to convince clients of anything related to air, other than foregoing basic economy, which doesn’t always provide mileage points. If a client is undecided, I’ll provide the differences and let the client decide.”
Adriano notes that understanding the clients’ preferences, needs, and wants is essential to selling higher classes of service tickets. “Whether they are looking for more space on a long-haul flight or access to premium services and lounges throughout the airport, connecting features to benefits is vital,” she explains. “In today’s world, comfort is almost a necessity, and the airlines are noticing this even more with price incentives and add-on amenities to entice travelers.” Additionally, Adriano points out that selling higher classes of service tickets is easy when travel advisors know what their clients are looking for.
Mix and Match
According to Simon, expensive air travel does not always match other types of luxury travel. Sometimes, travelers may choose to book a budget airline ticket for a cheap getaway or pair a first-class ticket with a budget land vacation or cruise, especially in multigenerational family vacations, where family members may have different budgets. Additionally, some clients prefer small inns or local hotels instead of butler service, modern villas or global chains for a truly authentic experiential vacation. Solo travelers may also choose to upgrade their air seating for added comfort while joining an average excursion to enjoy the company of other people.
Adriano emphasizes that different clients may have different reasons for wanting a front-of-cabin experience. As each person values certain priorities, travel advisors must understand their clients and how they prefer to travel. Travelers may splurge to reduce any friction and enjoy added comfort, especially during the flying component of their trip. Airlines are recognizing this by offering price incentives and add-on amenities to entice travelers seeking comfort during travel.