Luxury travel used to mean opulence at every turn of a trip, from over-the-top resort stays and fine dining to high-end travel accessories and other unabashed consumption. For many it still does. But, as the concept behind wealth and status changes, so too does luxury travel.
A new report by Sabre has outlined the ways in which first-class travel is evolving, and almost above all else, it seems the wealthier traveller is becoming a more ethical traveller, with flashy brands and experiences increasingly making way for more subtle indulgences.
They still want their exclusivity, but according to The Future of Luxury Travel report, luxury travellers are aligning their experiences with more personal values and to fulfill their own dreams. This means luxury travel can vary between a helicopter ride to somewhere remote to opting for an exclusive yoga class; or choosing to dive to the wreck of the Titanic over glamming it up at a ritzy resort.
Released by Sabre Hospitality Solutions, in partnership with TrendWatching, the report details five key areas impacting customers’ future preferences for accommodation and experiences:
Wellness tourism up: Doubling overall industry growth, this tourism sector grew by 14% between 2013 and 2015 – and Global Wellness Institute figures show this segment, which focuses on self-improvement, is expected to grow by more than 37% to US$808 billion by 2020.
Low key luxury: Identifying themselves as ‘post-status’, more and more affluent travellers are choosing a new ‘no-frills chic’, which sees them opting for travel that contrasts with traditional luxury – and it could be as simple as wanting smaller logos on luxury products.
Guilt-free decadence: High-end products and services are increasingly altering their selling points to include positive environmental or social impact – and luxury travellers are listening. This could include anything from ethical food choices to choosing lab-grown gems over mined diamonds as souvenirs.
Luxury on demand: Access economies have become commonplace for the average consumer. And they’re coming (or have already come) to luxury travel, from on-demand chauffeurs to instant (or in 20 minutes, at least) champagne to on-loan high-end vintage products.
Bespoke experiences: From pop-up hotel rooms to personalised travel gifts to travel guides curated by brainwave analysis, luxury travel is increasingly becoming more aligned to traveller’s unique desires and values.
“The evolution of high-end travel is creating a marketplace where ‘luxury’ is defined by the most exclusive, unique experiences that reside at the intersection of affluence and access,” Sabre Hospitality Solutions global marketing and digital experience vice president Sarah Kennedy Ellis said.
“We see guests moving beyond traditional ideas of status and embracing highly-bespoke travel opportunities that focus more on the individual traveler’s personality and values and less about expressing opulence.”