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How Luxury Travellers Expectations are Changing


Blake Kotenbrink SVP, business leadership in luxury practice at Momentum Worldwide on the industry's evolution as customers look for more value and greater meaning

How Luxury Travellers Expectations are Changing

In the US alone, total spending on luxury hotel accommodation grew to $2.5 billion in 2022 from $1.8 billion in 2019. An evolution in expectations and desires from luxury travellers is helping to drive this increase. Luxury travellers have always sought the kind of unique experiences that money can unlock, but what counts as a unique experience is changing. 

In recent years, marketers have focused on the democratisation of luxury, but as more people have been able to taste the life of luxury, ultra-high-net-worth individuals are now seeking even more exclusivity. The wealthy are living even better and expect brands to align with their updated desires. This movement has never been more prevalent than in luxury travel and hospitality, which is contributing to tremendous growth within the sector where: “One in two wealthy global travellers now prefer to spend their money on luxury experiences rather than luxury goods.”  

The premium travel industry is evolving quickly as today’s luxury consumer looks for more value and greater meaning in their leisure pursuits, investing in new ways to spend their time and money. Conde Nast Traveller’s 2023 trends report identified a ‘new type of all-inclusive’ was emerging, where hotels and resorts look to breathe new life into the luxury offering. In response, hotels and resorts are elevating themselves as lifestyle brands and are catering to this advancement with unexpected strategic partnerships, enhanced membership programs, and more bespoke engagements. 

Experiential travel is a popular luxury trend that only continues to grow, especially in the hospitality industry, where it's seen as a crucial way to build brand affinity and customer loyalty. Immersive experiences deepen emotional connections and can solidify the allegiance between guests and brands, if done well.

For today’s high-end traveller, the physical luxury of a hotel room is no longer enough. The experiential component has now become a 'must-have' to drive planning decisions. Today's global explorers are no longer satisfied by simply lounging on a beach or visiting a famous monument or museum. Rather, they want to envelop themselves in local culture and unique experiences they cannot obtain on their own. But instead of traditional concierge recommendations or reservations, guests want their hotel to plan experiences end-to-end with white glove touches that feel truly special and personal. Ultimately, these unique experiences become the stories told within the circles of the 1%. It’s not very politically correct to talk to friends about a recent luxury purchase while visiting Capri, but it is more than acceptable to boast about a once-in-a-lifetime experience while vacationing on the island.   

Experiential travel must also showcase a variety of unique themes. Luxury travellers expect a menu of choices and customisations to ensure their journeys reflect their personalities and preferences. Social media feeds feature an infinity of vacation jaunts posted by friends, family and followers. The privileged tourist wants to experience something unique that they haven’t seen on Instagram or TikTok. For hotel brands, this means attracting guests and increasing spend on the property through adventures and excursions that are more than one-note, single-category offerings like food, music, nature, etc. Luxury consumers live a blend of tastes, preferences and affinities. They should see these combinations in the experiences that brands offer at properties around the world. 

Experiential is changing luxury travel. Brands that embrace this shift through customisation, cultural immersion, and a pursuit of journeys and moments that are deeply different will rise above competitors. Jet setters across generations will perceive greater value and become fiercely loyal.

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Momentum Worldwide, Tue, 04 Apr 2023 16:36:46 GMT