Travel Agents

Five trends shaping the future of luxury

Hannah Edensor

The latest in industry research from Sabre Corporation has identified five key ‘Future of Luxury’ trends for travellers.

The trends tap into the human desire to feel like their trip is totally unique, and how luxury can still be sustainable.

According to the report, travellers want new and open experiences, but still want “to find purpose and cultivate empathy for others while doing so”.

As a result, travel brands and products are starting to offer “individualized and transformative forms of luxury,” according to Sabre.

Sabre also noted that “luxury has always been intrinsically linked to consumer’s quest for status”, so travel agents, take note; you should aim to “shape experiences around traveler’s emotions and help them discover new aspects of their own personalities in the process,” if you want them to feel like this was a truly personalised and transformative experience.

So let’s dive into these five luxury trends.

  1. The Quintessential Self

Consumers are far more wealthy than they’ve ever been before, and this has opened a lot more doors for luxury travel.

“The Experience Economy turned amazing vacations into the expected. Digital connection widened the scope of people’s lives – the social access, resources and knowledge – beyond recognition,” says the report.

As a result, travellers are looking for an experience that completely satisfies their various emotional needs. Sabre calls this an endless search to realise the idealised version of themselves that they carry around in their head.

“They are looking for brands to help them in that quest, and if the results make for shareable content ‘I’m doing this, you probably haven’t heard of it yet,’ then that’s even better.”

 

For those seeking the QUINTESSENTIAL SELF, the quest for self-improvement doesn’t mean compromising on self-indulgence.

The report referenced Maverick Helicopters as an example. It’s a helicopter company that offers luxury yoga experiences, because self-actualizers do yoga. Status seekers prefer a helicopter.

The 2.5-hour experience also includes a Champagne toast post-class, and limousine transportation.

It also mentioned the Les Monastere Des Augustines, a monastery-turned-wellness hotel, named by National Geographic as the number one vacation spot for ‘a physical and mental reboot’.

Some of the holistic health practices offered by the not-for-profit hotel, which occupies wings of a 17th-century monastery and hospital, include a silent breakfast, yoga, and meditation.

  1. No-Frills Chic

A growing number of luxe travellers are no longer thrilled with brands and status, and find themselves more interested in quality, aesthetic and purpose, according to Sabre. These are the ‘post-status’ consumers.

“Now, many luxury travelers are looking for a more subtle indulgence, choosing low-key brands, products and services over showy opulence. This understated luxury functions as a blank canvas, giving the individual the chance to express their identity, rather than one prescribed by a brand,” the report says.

As a result, they’re on the hunt for off-the-grid experiences that convey prestige because they are unique and in stark contrast to traditional luxury.

Think Louis Vuitton’s latest range of ‘subtly’ branded luggage, to appease the travellers who want chic without all the labels.

  1. Premium Redeemed

NO FRILLS CHIC is luxury re-imagined for post-status consumers, according to Sabre.

So consider how you can create products, services and experiences that communicate the values of the consumer, rather than the brand.

“Thanks to an ever-greater awareness of the impact of their actions, many travelers feel increasingly guilty about the negative impact their consumption has on the environment, society and their health,” the report states.

“The result? A growing desire for indulgence without the guilt.”

 

So, per the report, enter the luxurious Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, which opened last September in Nicaragua’s rural countryside.

It offers sandboarding down an active volcano and horseback riding on 1,300 reforested acres, BUT was founded by the not-for-profit American Nicaraguan Foundation, meaning the hotel seeks to educate visitors about improving local employment, sustainable farming and environmental ownership and responsibility.

  1. Extravagance on Demand

On-demand services have always been part of the luxury experience. But then a wave of on-demand startups made everything – from laundry services to taxis to manicures – available to the masses.

“Now, on-demand and access economies are now the way of life for millions of ‘ordinary’ consumers across the globe. “

The very real benefits that on-demand and access bring – freedom from the hassle of ownership, instant gratification, and more – are universal. Luxury consumers aren’t about to set themselves apart by opting out of that.

Instead, these consumers will push their on-demand mindset to new highs, and into entirely new domains of consumerism.

One example was Recharge, an app allowing users to reserve luxury hotel rooms by the minute, which made its NYC debut in April 2017.

Users pay only for the amount of time they need (without having to book for an entire night’s stay), and the on-demand platform enables hotels to generate revenue from rooms during times (particularly the daytime) when they aren’t typically in use.

The Vintage Fashion Trunk is another example. A partnership between luxury vintage fashion e-tailer Vestiaire Collective and The Berkeley Hotel in London, this fun travel trend allows guests to borrow vintage designer items free of charge “including Chanel purses, Dior earrings and Herme’s silk scarves” dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.

  1. Customyzed

“I’m an individual. So treat me like one!” is the concept of this trend, according to Sabre.

Now, many luxury travellers want to construct experiences that align with their unique interests, needs and values.

“They are eschewing a ‘one size fits all’ approach for trips that are imbued with meaning and allow them to tell the world who they are and what they stand for.

Last year, for example, London-based Travel Unwrapped launched something known as ‘DNA Unwrapped’; travel itineraries inspired by travellers’ unique DNA.

Users take a DNA test (a cheek swab mailed to a partner lab) to discover their family ancestry, and Travel Unwrapped helps build an itinerary inspired by their genetic makeup. Cool, or what?

Blink is another luxury travel company that creates customised pop-up hotels – yes pop-up!

The luxury travel company is offering personalised pop-up holiday experiences in rare and remote locations around the world. Each trip is designed to be entirely unique, with examples including temporary camps set up in the Moroccan desert, Bolivian salt flats or the Andes.

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