The evolving definitions of ‘luxury’ and ‘status’ are changing the preferences and expectations of service from high-end travellers, says Sabre Corporation in its recently-released The Future of Luxury Travel.
According to the report, published in collaboration with TrendWatching, travellers want to live out their personal values through their experiences, and yet want “to find purpose and cultivate empathy for others while doing so”.
This has led to smart brands offering “individualised and transformative forms of luxury” to appeal to these new consumers.
“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,” said Sarah Kennedy Ellis, vice president of global marketing and digital experience at Sabre Hospitality Solutions.
“We see guests moving beyond traditional ideas of status and embracing highly-bespoke travel opportunities that focus more on the individual traveller’s personality and values and less about expressing opulence.”
Sabre identifies five core trends that tap into this human desire to feel unique and to access luxury on one’s own terms.
Here’s a brief look at the five trends:
1. The Quintessential Self: The Experience Economy has turned amazing vacations into the expected, and consumers are instead looking for experiences that fulfil their emotional needs.
A product that meets this trend is Les Monastere des Augustines, a monastery-turned wellness hotel in Quebec City, Canada, which offers a silent breakfast, yoga and meditation. Or Maverick Helicopters that offers luxury yoga classes on remote desert peaks.
2. No-Frills Chic: An increasing number of luxury travellers are identifying themselves as “post-status” – choosing subtle indulgence over prominent logos and showy opulence. They are opting for “low-key brands, products and services over showy opulence”.
3. Premium Redeemed: Another trend driving consumer choice is a desire for guilt-free luxury. The report cites examples of emerging high-end products and services whose selling points include positive environmental or social impact – from ice cream made from fruit that would otherwise have been sent to a landfill to lab-grown gems that offer an ethical alternative to diamond mining.
Staying at the luxurious Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat in Nicaragua’s countryside will be an indulgence without the guilt. Opened last September, the resort was founded by the not-for-profit American Nicaraguan Foundation. Its aim is educate visitors about improving local employment, sustainable farming and environmental ownership and responsibility.
4. Extravagance on Demand: The report forecasts that luxury consumers will push their on-demand mindset to new highs, and into new domains of consumerism.Two products illustrate this trend.
Recharge, which debuted in New York is April, is an app that allows users to book luxury hotel rooms by the minute.
The Vintage Fashion Trunk, a partnership between luxury vintage fashion e-tailer Vestiaire Collective and The Berkeley Hotel in London, enables guests to borrow vintage designer items such as Chanel purses and Dior earrings free of charge.
5. Customised: Many luxury travellers want to construct experiences that align with their unique interests, needs and values, the report says. Expectations around personalisation are constantly being heightened by the online experience, where everything from music to advertising can be tailored to individual preferences and interests.
An example – last year London-based Travel Unwrapped launched DNA Unwrapped, described on its website as the “most unique travel experience in the world” with the itineraries inspired by the travellers’ genetic code. The tours will take them to visit the people and places where they are from. What a cool way to discover one’s roots.