How Luxury Travel Is Evolving to Meet the Needs of a New Generation of Travellers

The word luxury may be subjective — what defines a luxury experience for one traveller could differ significantly from another — but many would agree on some common features: an exceptional experience that stands out from the rest; staff who have come to know your preferences and treat you like family; high quality, varied food and beverage options; a location that’s magical and awe inspiring; and of course, a great price.

However, these days, it is not enough to just claim to be luxury if you don’t deliver on the other elements of the experience. With increased competition in the luxury travel space, it is important for companies to constantly reassess and evolve their offering.

As a result, what once made a hotel, cruise company, tour group operator or lodge a luxury choice is evolving to meet the needs of this new generation of travellers. Despite increasing competition, the good news is that it means more choices for luxury travellers, which is a win all round.

Luxury travelers are typically high net-worth individuals who have the financial ability to indulge in luxurious experiences during their travels. They are usually retired or have long-standing careers which have allowed them to accumulate significant wealth. They have a strong interest in exploring new destinations and are willing to pay for an extraordinary vacation.

Aside from the financial aspect, luxury travellers are seeking experiences that will have a lasting impact on them and their lives. They are interested in sustainable travel, wellness incorporated into itineraries and cultural immersion. Additionally, they are keen to tick items off their bucket list by visiting remote or exotic locations and ticking off a destination or experience they have been dreaming of for years.

For example, a trip to the ice hotels in Sweden or the underwater villas in the Maldives are popular choices for this type of traveller. Similarly, hiking and kayaking with local experts to visit hidden spots is a favourite activity. Guests also love the idea of doing something different and unusual, such as taking part in a Caravaggio inspired one-on-one painting class or learning how to make traditional Mexican tortillas.

As such, many luxury travellers are looking for a more experiential style of travel, which is why tours that offer cultural immersion are so popular. Whether it is sailing in a small sailboat off the coast of Croatia or taking part in an exclusive cookery workshop with a local chef in Buenos Aires, they want a truly authentic experience that allows them to connect with the culture of the place they are travelling to.

As a result, we are seeing more and more tours being offered by travel agents and tour operators that provide a combination of both experiential and conventional touring. For example, a recent survey by Virtuoso found that 80% of luxury travellers would spend more on a brand that tailors its products to them. This can begin before they arrive, by sending them a personalized survey asking them about their interests and preferences, such as if they have any special diet requirements or are celebrating a special occasion.

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