Defining the luxury traveller of today

Defining the luxury traveller of today

As luxury travellers’ needs keep evolving, it gets more and more complex to define who they are and what they really want.

It’s no longer just about targeting who likes to travel first and business class, or who prefers an above 600 thread-count in their bedsheets.

With an ever changing fast-paced global economy, coupled with travellers’ varying needs and personalities, pinning down the ‘prototype’ of today’s luxury traveller is more challenging than it was a decade ago.

Luxury travel brands rely on reports and surveys such as Skift’s latest report on the latest habits of luxury travellers to get a better grasp of who their target market is.

Here are some ways how brands can get to know today’s luxury travellers better.

1.) Know their numbers and where they come from.

Ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) are defined as having assets valued at more than $50 million. Based on the 2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, there are four million people worldwide with assets between $5 million and $50 million. However, only 140,900 are ultra-wealthy.

The report reveals that the United States leads by a huge margin with 70,400 UHNW adults, equivalent to 50 percent of the group total. China occupies second place with 11,000 UHNW individuals (up 640 on the year). Next on the list are Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan.

2.) Know their lifestyle and what they want to get out of travel.

Anthony Lassman, co-founder of Nota Bene Global, a London-based bespoke travel service firm, shares that high achievers, no matter where they are from, are hungry to consume travel and are on a constant quest for discovery.

Lassman notes that their expectations are extremely high. It’s about precision; it’s about knowing individual travel quirks; it’s about top-tier service. Luxury for the UHNW crowd is “about space, time, privacy and doing things wherever and in your time and at your pace.”

Philippe Brown, founder of the London-based luxury travel consultancy Brown + Hudson further adds, “Our clients want to do things that no one else has done before and will never do again. This is what Bespoke 2.0 is all about. It’s the essence of personal.”

Going back to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, even when they reside in different continents, UNHW individuals tend to share more similar lifestyles, participating in the same global markets for luxury goods.

3.) Know what they don’t want.

Because they are prepared to pay a premium for experiences that either no one has done before, or can only be done once in a lifetime, these luxury travellers do not want to have to deal with petty annoyances.

They are more than willing to pay for someone to worry about the small details for them so they can focus more on the bespoke experience.

Philippe Brown further adds that their clients expect “trust, personal security, fluidity, access, logistics, control.”

4.) Know that they may want the same things as us but on a much grander level.

UHNW individuals, just like us, seek unique and immersive experiences in their travels. However, unlike you and I, they have financial resources that allow them freedom to say that sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities.

According to Brown+Hudson, their clients want to do things that no one else has done before and will never do again. “This is what Bespoke 2.0 is all about. It’s the essence of personal. Everything is possible. If it doesn’t exist, we create it, If it hasn’t been done, then it’s time someone did.”

A private dinner with Desmond Tutu or opportunities to play a grand piano on stage at Reykjavik’s Harpa Concert Hall are just a couple of examples that Harper+Brown have arranged for their clients.

5.) Get familiar with the term ‘Luxpedition’

Perhaps, due to a combination of factors like people having a healthier lifestyle in general, therefore allowing them to achieve more adventurous bucket list items and also having a more experience-focused mindset, outdoor and adventure destinations continue to get more popular among UHNW individuals.

Destinations like New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, and Rwanda (for gorilla trekking) continuously get frequented by luxury travellers with an adventurous side.

Dubbing this type of travel as ‘Luxpeditions’,  Brown+Hudson says that they try to “make the most challenging journey into the unknown achievable without the inconveniences.”

For instance, the uber-wealthy might choose Papua New Guinea as a travel destination. But they will easily get into a helicopter to get to the back country. Or they may want to stay at an exclusive estate on Mount Kenya that comes complete with a private plane to explore the Great Rift Valley.

Anthony Lassman cleverly summarises it simply: “Even when the ultra-rich are roughing it, they aren’t really roughing it.”

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Jean Carmela Lim is the voice behind luxury and adventure travel blog, Holy Smithereens. Since a childhood trip to Hong Kong and her first typewriter, Jean has spent a lifetime pursuing her passion of travel writing. With a background in the airline industry and government travel, Jean now creates travel content full-time on blogs and social media, exploring life's unforgettable moments through luxurious travels both near and far.


  1. Ambeekanand ( Robin) Ramessur says:

    Thank you so much for the great article which has hit the nail head-on;I am personally involved in attracting UHNW businesspeople investors in the property development and ITS as well as tourists to Mauritius mainly from Russia and CIS. This is a very specific niche market segment which is still unkowm to many. I have acquired experience in dealing with billionaires from Russia and CIS countries Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan amongst others. I am pretty aware of their extremely stringent,tough, ultra-sophisticated tastes and needs. If you are able to harness their inherent complexities and try to meticulously satisfy their
    rigourous needs, you will succeed in your endeavour. I usually deal with these billionaires who travel by private jets to Mauritius, take helicopter excursions, buy ONLY the best of the bests of what are proposed to them in terms of VVIP beach villas amongst others. All our efforts are highly awarded and exploring and exploiting this niche market further is very promissing.

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