Posted by Nancy D. Brown

What does a luxury traveler look like? I recently returned from Las Vegas, home to the Luxury Travel Expo, a convention that delivers pearls of wisdom to luxury travel professionals. As a freelance writer, I'm happy to report that I walked away with a lot of information to share with you, the luxury traveler. I also walked away with $13 that I was able to grab during a game in the exhibit hall. That's me in the money booth.


A Hawaiian luxury traveler is an avid and active vacationer, according to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. Their statistics say that a luxury traveler stays longer and spends more, while demanding a high level of service. Luxury travelers "sight do" not "sightsee." They are highly educated and well traveled. I was suprised to learn that their idea of a luxury traveler was someone who earns $100,000 or more.


Some of the top destinations for 2009 will be Greece, Spain, Ireland and Egypt, according to Insight Vacations. I recently dined with Tom Heneghan, Marketing Manager of Tourism Ireland while Ireland's President Mary McAleese addressed supporters of the American Ireland Fund at a San Francisco luncheon. If Ireland is a wee bit as charming as President McAleese, I look forward to visiting. In fact, Aer Lingus flys non-stop from SFO to Dublin. I would love to visit the five star Dromoland Castle in Clare, Ireland, however, Nil Gaeilge maith agam. Translation: I cannot speak Irish very well.


While we are now in an official recession, "Las Vegas is not having a fire sale," according to Art Jimenez, director of leisure sales, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The Expo took place at Mandalay Bay, yet I stayed at the budget-friendly Luxor. With over 14,000 new hotel rooms in Las Vegas, Jimenez said their state bird should be the crane.


The cruise industry continues to invest in the future, with 35 new ships expected for 2012.  According to Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) President and CEO Terry L. Dale, the "luxury market is expected to jump by 71% by 2012."

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Finally, Katie Taylor, President and COO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, offered her take on  the two things elite consumers looks for in a brand; craftsmanship and quality.  "Service is why the Four Seasons exist," reflected Taylor. "Guests want 'just-for-me' service."

Next year's Luxury Travel Expo will take place December 1-3, 2009 at the Signature at MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, Nevada.