Strategic Vision’s 2019 Pulse of the Industry Survey of luxury travel management firms found that 44 percent said their clients were optimistic about this new year.

LUXURY TRAVEL MANAGERS are feeling good about the outlook for this year, according to a survey from communications firm Strategic Vision. The strong economy drives that optimism, because consumers are looking to travel for new experiences.

Strategic Vision’s 2019 Pulse of the Industry Survey of firms that plan and book leisure, business, meetings and incentive travel for some of the world’s largest companies and wealthiest individuals, found that 44 percent said their clients are optimistic about international travel, while 54 percent were optimistic about domestic travel. That is up from last year, when 19 percent of those surveyed felt optimistic for international travel and 29 percent for domestic travel.

At the same time, 16 percent of advisors said their clients were feeling cautious about international travel in this year’s survey. Similar cautions were found in December by the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index.

Heading into 2019, 88 percent of the survey respondents expected an increase in revenues this year. Another 88 percent of respondents said that last year’s revenues topped those of 2017.

“The luxury travel industry is poised for yet another banner year in 2019,” says Peter Bates, President and founder of Strategic Vision. “Travel and tourism is already the world’s largest industry—contributing $8.3 trillion to the global economy—and it continues to grow. The combination of social media, affordable flights, greater wealth, and globalization have created a new Age of Exploration. Of course, I should add, as a cautionary note, that in today’s political and economic climate, conditions can change quickly and unpredictably.”

The biggest issue that respondents said they face in running their business is difficulty in attracting and retaining new travel advisors. Seventy-four percent said they expect to increase their headcount in 2019, but 50 percent said that a shortage of qualified talent was their greatest hiring challenge.

“Finding good people, getting them onboarded, and ensuring they become profitable to the agency quickly enough. There’s not enough time to do it all!” said Liz Sutton, president of Alabama World Travel.