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Executive Editor | JustLuxe

American Express Travel's NEXTPEDITION Mystery Vacations

Dec. 29th, 2011 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment   
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Have you ever wanted to spin a globe with your eyes closed and stop it with your finger to find where you will travel next? If that is your kind of adventure, then the American Express Travel NEXTPEDITION program has been built just for you.

In short, the American Express Travel NEXTPEDITION is a Mystery Trip. I have heard it compared to the Amazing Race (without the time-crunch) by quite a few people I have explained it to.

To begin, a would-be traveler takes an online quiz and discovers their Travel Sign: a symbol of the individual's preferences and interests while globetrotting. As it turns out, I am someone who likes to travel so far that East meets West; a Blisstorian. The next step is to speak with an American Express Travel Specialist who uncovers more specific interests, likes, dislikes and more. Based on this chat an itinerary is developed, but the destination is revealed only days before departure. One could be heading anywhere in North America or Europe - and at this point I am dying to know just where we will be going. This kind of anticipation for a trip is foreign; an excitement built on mystery and intrigue. What sort of activities have they planned for us? What kind of places will we see? We truly can't imagine. We cannot even Google pictures.

Every trip includes two cities, two ultra-unique experiences, accommodations and airfare. Your itinerary is revealed day by day via a Smartphone…even the second city is a mystery until you are already on the trip. Exciting enough for you yet?

There is much more to be said about this particular journey and for that you will have to stay tuned. But in the meanwhile we have asked a few questions of our American Express Travel Specialist, to gain some insight into just how NEXTPEDITION works:

JustLuxe: Based on the fact that there is variable pricing depending on where a traveler will be headed, do they know ahead of time whether or not they will be staying in N. America or traveling to Europe?
Curtis J Kowalski: Travelers will have a true mystery experience and will not find out the destination until they receive their travel console. US trips start at $1000 for a seven-day trip and International start at $2500. Right now, the minimum trip length is seven days. Upon planning the trip, a NEXTPEDITION Specialist will confirm the traveler’s price point to ensure they receive the perfect itinerary based on budget and preferences.

JL: Will American Express Travel be adding additional destinations anytime in the future?
CK: American Express Travel is constantly looking to innovate its programming and hopes to add new destinations to NEXTPEDITION in 2012.

JL: What is the best part of planning a client's NEXTPEDITION?
CK: Each one is completely different! There is no ‘formula’ to plan the itinerary; instead it is really about listening to the consumer and finding how his/her interests and vacation preferences. American Express Travel also offers out-of-the-box activities on each NEXTPEDITION which are really fun to plan. Mystery Activities are cleverly crafted just for the traveler, based on his or her Travel Sign. They are fun, exciting and out of the ordinary. Examples include, for the Detourist (lover of the hidden gems), the chance to row across the Giudecca Canal in Venice standing up, Venetian style, during a two hour lesson. For the Farbarian (adventure seekers), the opportunity to race around San Francisco in your own Go Cars, the world's first automated electric cart tour, guided by GPS (global positioning system).

JL: How do you prepare for planning a trip? Have you been to any or all of the destinations personally for that purpose?
CK: I have traveled to over 100 different cities in 18 countries - I love to explore. NEXTPEDITION Specialists – American Express Travel Specialists hand selected by the brand to represent and book NEXPEDITION - were also sent on a test NEXTPEDITION to provide feedback on the experience and be able to speak to it from a personal standpoint. To develop the personalized itinerary, consumers need to have a consultation with these travel specialists. American Express Travel is known for our Specialist’s personal touch and expertise, and we wanted to ensure this new clientele was able to get that experience

JL: What is your own travel sign and why do you think it fits you?
CK: I am a Detourist and I think this fits me exactly, though I can also be a Tasteblazer. I love to explore and go off the beaten path, like finding a small restaurant that your typical travel guide would not.

JL: What age demographic have you found to be gravitating towards the program?
CK: Any traveler with an adventurous spirit and a passion for travel is welcome, but we are seeing that most of the consumers interested are in their 20s-40s.

JL: Does there seem additionally to be a dominant psychographic or is the net spread fairly wide?
CK: Because NEXTPEDITION is so customized and has 20 different Travel Signs for potential travelers, we don’t have a specific ‘type’ of traveler. NEXTPEDITION offers an entirely unique experience that is customized just for them. It brings them the excitement of not knowing where they are going or what they are doing, while adding the comfort of both the mobile device and the help of an American Express Travel Specialist.

JL: What is the maximum number of travelers allowed on a NEXTPEDITION?
CK: As NEXTPEDITION is such a personalized experience and is truly customized based on the Travel Signs, it should be tailored to smaller groups.

JL: I know that you cannot book extra nights before or after your trip, however could someone purchase more time in week-long increments?
CK: Yes we can extend the trip. The longest NEXTPEDITION we have created to date has been a two week mystery trip with three destinations.

Join us as we embark upon what we anticipate to be an awesome adventure into the unknown. The JustLuxe family of travel writers have journeyed near and far for you, our readers, but never without planning ahead. This time, at the invitation of American Express Travel, we are letting them take the reins so that we can report back on the new NEXTPEDITION experience.

Find out what the trip is like, read Destination Paris: An American Express Travel NEXTPEDITION

Already excited to go? Check out the American Express Travel NEXTPEDITION site.

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All destination images are courtesy of Shutterstock, all others courtesy of American Express Travel
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