The luxury travel market is something which is continuously evolving, but is it for the better or worse?
Last year I had the opportunity to attend a master class about luxury travel which I found to be very insightful.
Designed by Larry Piementel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises; the session touched on how the luxury travel industry is evolving and what is important to luxury travellers.
The presentation was delivered by Richard Twynham, Managing Director for Azamara Club Cruises here in the U.K.; whom delivered a highly engaging and thought-provoking session. Research was done in association with the Boston Consulting Group.
Today I’d like to share a few of the things I took away from the master class; along with a few things I have been thinking about since then.
The current luxury travel market
The luxury market is big, but it will continue to grow and evolve. By 2020, research suggests more than 440 million people (not a typo) will be aspirational luxury consumers with spending topping $1.1 trillion. That’s impressive. As part of the shift of consumers migrating from traditional to luxury holidays, the definition of luxury itself is also evolving. With the likes of global chains such as Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental continuously looking at ways to enhance the guest experience; modern technology plays an important part in the differentiator between the “old” and the “new” luxury.
What are luxury consumers looking for?
- Experiential Luxury
- Human Connection
Travellers are looking for travel experiences which are authentic and immersive. Thanks to the likes of Airbnb (where you can truly live like a local in the midst of Hollywood I kid you not), this trend is likely to continue well into the future. Thinking along the lines of experiences, research suggests that 30% of all luxury consumers anticipate to increase their spend within the next twelve months to get exactly what they want. If you think about it, consumers wanting that little extra bit of luxury are quite happy to spend more. For example if I wanted to enjoy that little bit more legroom and a few upgraded amenities on a 10-hour flight; I’d quite happily spend an extra £2-300 for that little bit of luxury which in my mind would enhance my trip.
It’s all about perception
One of the key differentiators between (standard) travel and luxury travel is the perception of value and the levels of service a consumer expects. For example, a luxury hotel can cost an average of 8x more than a standard option. If you were going to a special engagement and wanted to look fabulous; a cocktail dress might cost you 180x more than one from a well-known mainstream retail store down the high-street. Whichever way you look at it, that’s crazy and impressive, right?
Those are just a few things I took away from the master class; however I’ve listed a few other things which I thought about too.
We know that technology can enhance the luxury travel experience through the means of 24/7 digital concierge, driverless vehicles (yes, they are starting to exist) and other aspects; but consumers also want the human connection in addition. A mobile or tablet application can only do so much, so that is where people can really outshine and provide an elevated level of customer service.
If there is one thing which has stayed key within the luxury market, it is that price has no determination on quality and value. There is also the saying that you should never judge a book by it’s cover; and that is something which I’d say definitely applies to luxury travel.
There have been times when I’ve flown in Business Class or stayed at some really lovely hotels and I feel that the staff don’t take me seriously because of my age; regardless if I am in a suit, uniform or smart jeans. However I feel it is incredibly important for any person to treat others how they would want to be treated and to never assume.
How do you think the luxury travel market is changing? Is it for the better, or perhaps not-so. Let me know in the comments area below.