As each year brings different travel trends in the luxury market, we see the face of luxury travellers changing. Their lifestyle, the way they travel, and even who they are, are extremely different from the luxury traveller as we know from ten years ago.
This also means that travel brands should adapt the way they sell travel to the evolving luxury market.
Last month, Signature Travel Network held the 2017 Regional Education Forum at the Mandarin Oriental in New York.
Mr. Ignacio Maza, Executive Vice President of Signature Travel Network and Former Executive Vice President at Virtuoso gave valuable insights into selling luxury travel.
Here are a few takeaway points:
1.) It’s not strictly luxury anymore.
As the face of the luxury traveller has changed, the same key indicators in identifying who these are have also drastically evolved. Decades ago, your typical luxury traveller will often “drive to their travel agents’ office in a Cadillac to book a vacation to Capri or St. Barts.”
Nowadays, on the rare chance that you even get to meet your luxury traveller client face to face, they can be dressed casually in a t-shirt and ripped jeans as they pay over GBP 25,000 to stay in a private island.
Many luxury travellers these days also mix it up, taking low-cost carriers to island destinations and staying in exclusive resorts or overwater bungalows.
2.) There’s no better time to sell luxury travel than now.
As the age of consumerism is starting to reach its saturation point, many travellers (let alone luxury travellers), already possess ‘big ticket items’ such as a luxury car or a designer house.
This leaves a lot of time and room for them to explore the purchases which will give them more fulfilment and meaning, such as travel.
Many luxury travellers want to return from a trip positively enriched, knowing that they are living well-rounded lives (rich in both material possessions and experience).
Related reading: The Emerging Niche of Luxury-Adventure Travel
At a time when almost all destinations have been explored and shared on Instagram, Mr Maza encourages travel brands to think out of the box.
For instance, exclusivity does not always necessarily mean First Class or getting the coveted Presidential room in a luxury hotel. For some luxury travellers, getting special access to a popular museum after hours to avoid tourist crowds can mean the world to them.
Travel brands should also keep an eye on ‘celebration travel’ – people commemorate life milestones very differently these days. Years ago, it would be common for families to gift students with cars or give them allowance to go on a gap year travel when they graduate.
These days, families now use milestones as a reason to celebrate by going on a luxury trip with the entire family.
Travel reunions should also be looked at, as more families are becoming global expats.
4.) Be a storyteller
Just like any other consumer, luxury travellers prefer personal accounts from people they trust over glossy brochures or standard superlative descriptions. Most luxury travel brand suppliers / agents are well-travelled, and it will be helpful to come back with photographs from your trip, and regale your clients with stories of your personal experience.
Needless to say, you should already know your client’s preference so you know which itineraries and stories will appeal to them.
In this ever evolving age of social media and varying trends, it seems that the age-old method of personal storytelling is still one of the best ways to sell a product.