Rules are ever changing, but try tempting clients with some of these ideas to keep them engaged and inspired to either travel on a last-minute escape now, or plan a big trip for 2021
As everyone working in travel has now come to realise, things can change very quickly when it comes to shifts related to Covid-19 and quarantine, but there are still some trips you could be planning for clients seeking a luxury getaway soon, or into 2021 and beyond.
From starting the conversation about planning a polar cruise in 2021, talking about the need to book ahead for the Great Migration next year – when operators say capacity at the best lodges in Kenya and Tanzania is sure to be stretched due to pent-up demand, or even just suggesting a London break, keeping ideas flowing and communication going is crucial for client engagement.
Expedition cruising is likely to have remained high on the bucket lists of wealthy travellers, who will have used lockdown to continue researching such an epic trip. Voyages in the Arctic depart mid-May to October when the weather is at its warmest and wildlife is most active.
Meanwhile, Antarctica’s short season from November to March, the small size of the expedition vessels and the restriction on numbers of people allowed to disembark are key drivers to securing bookings for those with polar plans.
And it is also worth flagging that Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent will be leading The Northeast Passage: Across the Russian Arctic, a 25-night cruise with an expedition team next year (27 August-21 September), sailing onboard Le Boreal. Meanwhile departing 16 July 2021, Silversea’s Silver Cloud will embark on its first-ever 63-day Arctic Grand Voyage, taking in seven countries.
The Maldives has consistently been reported as remaining in high future demand, given its promise of idyllic islands, remote escapism and privacy.
Most resorts will have reopened by the end of October, but for now, the country has not yet managed to make it onto the FCO’s exemption list.
However, operators report bookings are continuing and, despite high prices and minimum-stay requirements over the Christmas and New Year period, the best rooms in top resorts are being snapped up early, with A&K highlighting Gili Lankanfushi and Soneva Fushi as popular.
Planning for an all-inclusive stay will also allow clients to see ahead of time the full cost of a trip, and the boutique island of Milaidhoo (pictured) is one place where this is possible, with great savings to be had on travel next year.
A visit to London without some of the usual crowds of international tourists can be used as a rare hook – when else would you have the space at galleries and museums?
Or palaces, for that matter – a new exhibition of 65 masterpieces that would usually hang in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace will be brought together in an exhibition for the first time.
Including works by Titian, Rembrandt – including his piece, The Shipbuilder and his Wife: Jan Rijcksen (1560/2-1637) and his Wife, Griet Jans, pictured here – Vermeer, van Dyck and Canaletto, Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace will be at The Queen’s Gallery from 4 December 2020 – January 2022.
Discussing a dream wildlife-focused trip for 2021 is one way to maintain an active role in clients’ planning for next year, and they will welcome the advice to book early while they can.
A&K says some of Africa’s favourite camps are already reporting high occupancy, with people having rolled over bookings. Kenya and Tanzania are already looking busy for July/August, the operator says, with families, for example, transferring plans to see the great migration in 2021.
Many Caribbean countries have travel corridors under the government’s suggestions, but of course, there may still be some entry measures to consider.
Always a winter-sun favourite, Antigua has its fair share of luxury options; currently, all passengers (12 years and older, arriving by air) must provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than seven days before arrival (a State of Emergency is also currently in place until 31 October, but nothing that would deter a normal holidaymaker from enjoying a trip).
Once there, Oetker Collection’s Jumby Bay Island (pictured) is one idyllic option, where with the amount of personal space per guest – the island is 300 acres – they needn’t worry about even seeing another soul; the resort is also looking extra fresh after a refurbishment.
An early autumn break could be just the ticket for those who missed out on a summer trip overseas, and Cyprus is a favourite for this.
The island is on the green list, but clients will need to get a Covid-19 check beforehand (read about one agent's experience and tips on travelling to the country) and show a negative PCR test on entry.
Options once there could include a stay at boutique hotel Casale Panayiotis (pictured) in the Troodos mountains, offering a taste of the rural Cypriot lifestyle. This can then be matched with a coastal stay on the island at the Columbia Beach Resort on the two kilometre-long Blue Flag beach of Pissouri Bay.
Accommodation, trains and tours have historically booked up way in advance for Japan’s cherry blossom spring season (starting in the south in late February and flourishing last in the north in May), and pent-up demand from this year could mean a similar rush in 2021. In theory, the Olympics should also take place in Tokyo from 23 July to 8 August 2021, but the jury is still out on that.
Either way, availability could be tricky, and Japan was high in the popularity stakes before the virus hit; there’s no reason to believe our love affair will abate in the long run. Japan is currently on the FCO list of open corridors, but it’s not reciprocal, with UK citizens not yet allowed access.
Looking ahead, though, planning a classic tour could inspire clients to include Tokyo and nearby Hakone national park, the imperial city of Kyoto, time in the city of Hiroshima, and the picturesque island of Miyajima (pictured) with its celebrated torii gate.
Despite initial confusion on advice variations over quarantine in different parts of the UK, some of Greece is of course still open for Brits, excluding seven key islands.
Planning to stay open until 31 October is MarBella Collection (pictured) in south-east Corfu, where families might like to consider the Signature Suites package that includes one day’s complimentary car hire and beach picnic on stays of seven nights.
But for those who prefer a child-free break, Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort in Corfu, is a great all-round adults-only option with its own slice of private beachfront.
For those who still might not feel like travelling to far-flung places, but are keen to rekindle their passion for cruising while exploring the wild shoreline of Scotland, suggest booking a summer cruise on the super-sleek Scenic Eclipse.
Highlights of the Wild Scotland & the Hebrideans cruise include exploring Orkney, featuring the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and a local beer tasting; a photography tour in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull; and a search for wildlife on a guided nature walk of Iona’s sandy beaches with the ship’s naturalist.