I wanted to share some insights about the updates on luxury travel, particularly as we migrate to post-covid travel…
At the Luxury Travel Summit this weekend, one of the phrases that came up repeatedly was ‘revenge travel’. You may or may not have heard this term recently, but it basically means that people are ready to travel now – they are tired of being homebound, and at this point they are much less willing to cancel vacation plans. Folks are fully vaccinated, they’ve been saving up their money, and it is time to see the world.
Studies show that 60% of Americans plan to do more traveling in 2021 than they did back in 2019 before the pandemic hit. People are definitely realizing that putting off things to the future may not work if there are restrictions in the future – which really doesn’t have to have anything to do with covid. It could be family issues or health issues, covid has given people a realization that they shouldn’t put off important activities to ‘someday’, and now people are more intentional in traveling while they can.
From a luxury travel perspective, people will be spending more per trip, and they’re going be treating themselves, so many more people will be shifting into the luxury travel experience. The saving rate soared during covid times, topping 32% in April of this year, and so people are not only ready to travel, but they’re ready to indulge themselves with the extra funds that they have accumulated.
One of the ongoing discussions we have is about what luxury travel is. It’s not really about cost of the trip but rather the experiences and atmosphere. It’s about the unique nature that creates a personalized experience. Luxury travel focuses on the points of differentiation and uniqueness rather than just the functionality. It’s about how you are getting from A to B, not just getting from A to B.
Elements of Luxury Travel
The elements of luxury travel tend to be experiential, authentic and localized. That may be a fully custom private guided tour for a family for 2 weeks, or that could be certain day trips or excursions that offer those elements as part of a broader set of trip arrangements. The level of service provided certainly creates that sense of luxury, when the service provided feels the right level of attentive and familiar.
On my first luxury cruise on Crystal, the first place I wanted to go was to this large round lounger on the pool deck that I had seen in pictures. I stopped at the pool bar on the way to get a drink, and as I settled into my seat, a server came up to ask if he could get me anything. I said I already had my drink, and he said “Well, don’t you think you’ll need another at some point?” and I said, “Yes indeed I will”. He asked when I would like my next drink, and exactly 45 minutes later at my requested time, he was back with my next cocktail. That is a fabulous level of service.
On the Seaborn ship that my husband and I sailed in August, they keep records of what clients like. At any of the dining venues that I go to, whether I have been there or not, they know that I like Diet Coke – morning, noon, and night, no matter when, always bring me a Diet Coke – and at each meal, my Diet Coke magically shows up. My husband and I enjoy meeting other people on the cruise, and they made note of that comment, so we got numerous invitations during the cruise from the staff that were hosting dinners – the singers, the chief engineer, the guest lecturer, the cruise director – to join them with a group of other guests at dinner, which is a lovely way to meet the other travelers.
There are four drivers for luxury travel, that tie into those elements of experiential, authentic, and localized. The drivers are 1) exotic itineraries and destinations, 2) customized experiences, 3) fine dining, and 4) modern facilities.
Exotic destinations that are trending include Egypt, Africa, Dubai, the Maldives, Antarctica, and Japan.
In addition to fine dining options, some of the immersive experiences related to culinary pursuits could be going to a locally produced cheese tasting, a chocolate making class, or a private winery tour.
Customized experiences could be a private guide through a world class museum or along the hidden walkways of Santorini, or after-hours access to Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.
Modern facilities is an interesting issue, and not one I would have thought of previously, but a topic I can relate to given some of the bathrooms I experienced in Greece, Spain, and Italy. Sometimes the local facilities are part of the authenticity and charm of travel, but other times having modern facilities in an historic castle or tented camp in Africa is what creates that sense of luxury.
Next week I’ll talk more about the luxury travel spots that are hot now and next year, along with specific trends related to covid, and new luxury features coming in the future.