Luxury Travel is on the Rise. How Can Travel Brands Take Advantage?
A couple of months ago, we dissected the six new types of traveller tribes based on travel IT group Amadeus’ report, “Shaping the Future of Luxury Travel”.
Further to this report, Amadeus also predicted that within all travel types, it is luxury travel that will outpace the rest of the travel industry, as it is predicted to grow 6.2%, a third faster than overall travel.
This can be credited to the fact that the Amadeus report observed that we may have well entered a new age of luxury travel, where experience is given much more importance and emphasis than ever.
(see my related article, “Luxurious Travellers Seek Authentic Experiences When They Travel”)
Whenever I am personally asked how I would define luxury travel, I always say that it is subjective. There are no solid answers to this and I am relieved to know that Amadeus is on the same boat.
Amadeus Group’s Strategic Marketing Director Rob Sinclair-Barnes said, “Luxury means different things to different people and this is especially true today.”
Because global consumers are increasingly spending their disposable income on experiences rather than material goods, it all comes down to personal taste as to what these valuable experiences are.
So how can a travel brand take advantage of this?
1.) Be Well-Rounded
Just because there’s a surge in spending for personalised experience does not necessarily mean that travel brands should focus solely on providing experience for their traveller.
The Amadeus report found that consumers who are in the upper-middle class or emerging new luxury travellers tend to focus on the material side of luxury, while the more high net worth individuals choose to focus on experiential worth. Unless your brand targets solely just one kind of luxury traveller, it pays to cater to both as the emerging luxury traveller of today may well be tomorrow’s regular luxury traveller. Whatever your demographic target is, it never hurts to have a seamless experience that will have guests impressed with all aspects of the brand, from online, onsite, to experiences provided.
2.) Focus on Local Tourism: Utilise your location
Sometimes it is your location, more than the ‘hard product’, that can be the selling and unique point. While prime luxury travellers still prefer hotels over shared-economy type of accommodation (Airbnb, etc), they still would like to have that feeling of ‘staying like a local’, rather than a usual visitor.
Prime example of a brand that adapted to this need would be the InterContinental Hotels Group. Almost all InterContinental Hotels worldwide already meet the minimum standard of interiors / rooms and service, but over the past couple of years, InterContinental has given greater focus on their concierge service in order to provide seamless and a more personalised experience for their guests.
This includes collaborations and tie-ups with local events within the InterContinental hotel’s city and providing bespoke tours and recommendations to guests.
3.) Be Visible Everywhere
Almost all travellers own a smartphone now, and usage of apps or online bookings are becoming the norm, rather than being ‘tech-savvy’. Generation X &Y are also seen to be spending more on travel, so luxury travel is not really exclusive to any set age group or demographic.
It pays to allocate equal marketing to various fields of media (online, print, tv, etc) and not just focus on one or two. Application software (apps) also prove to be an effective marketing tool. Brands like Hyatt and InterContinental have developed Virtual Concierge apps specific to a hotel’s or a resort’s city. Because the apps focus on local knowledge and advise, it is very useful even to non-Hyatt/InterContinental guests. Brands that do this have seen the much bigger picture behind this. Even if the app user is not a guest, the constant visibility of their brand in the apps will very likely turn users into guests.
4.) It’s a Family Thing
Last year’s luxury travel trend prediction saw the rise of multi-generational travellers. One of the factors behind this is that most of us are becoming global citizens and expats. It is not unusual to find travellers who have moved cities or countries for work, better opportunities, or simply because. Due to having family left behind in their home countries / cities, most luxury travellers take advantage of holidays and make them into mini-reunions as well. And with life expectancy on the rise, grandparents of today are more mobile and active hence they can join the family in travels. Brands like Jumeirah and Outrigger have taken this need into account and it can be reflected on some of their resorts, where they have allocated family-friendly programs and rooms / villas, but at the same time have adults-only areas in their resorts.
These are just some tips that travel brands can use to take advantage of this exciting new age of luxury travel. If you have other trends you’ve seen lately, and other tips, we’d love to hear from you!