Lola Pedro, The Daily Telegraph, January 16, 2014
With so much innovation in the field, this year will see a plethora of new and exciting services enter the luxury travel industry. Alongside the emergence of interest in previously unpopular destinations, 2014 will also pave the way for brands to tweak and fine-tune ideas, concepts and trends birthed in previous years. Here are three key developments that will adopt more luxury-focused expressions and become increasingly tailored towards high-net-worth travellers in the coming months.
All brands look to travel
In 2014, the luxury traveller will become one of the most alluring target markets for non-travel luxury brands seeking new business opportunities. Beyond establishing outlets in airports and hotels, these brands will find more novel ways of integrating their products into the travel experience.
Opened in Las Vegas and Dallas airports in 2013, the Centurion Lounge is a space to relax pre-flight, with access restricted to American Express customers. The lounge offers fine-dining options with menus created by respected chefs, as well as various work and relaxation areas with complimentary Wi-Fi. The Centurion Lounge also includes a family room, with video games for kids. Customers can enjoy concierge-style services from AmEx staff, such as help with reserving restaurants or booking tickets for events at their destination. Access to the lounge is priced at $50 (about £30) for regular card holders; entry is free for platinum and centurion card customers.
Announced in October 2013, Burberry's Travel Tailoring is a suit collection designed to limit creasing. Catering to frequent business travellers, the suits are crafted from “memory fabric” that retains its shape if creased or crumpled. The collection features suits for both men and women, with prices starting at £1,195.
August 2013 saw Swedish vodka brand Absolut open its first standalone branded store, located in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The retail space features a digital display where shoppers can explore a range of Absolut-based cocktails, as well as a bespoke bar and lounge area where travellers can enjoy their drinks.
The expansion of guilt-free travel
As the debate around green travel, zero-impact hotels and sustainable holidays continues, one thing is certain for 2014: the increasing conflict between travellers’ need for indulgent holiday experiences and their desire to partake in these experiences sustainably, ethically and healthily will create exciting opportunities for brands.
The Extra Mile is a US-based non-profit designed to give those who can’t afford to travel the opportunity to visit terminally ill relatives. Using Mileage, an online fundraising platform that allows charities to provide support through donated frequent flyer miles, the organisation collects unused miles as well as monetary donations from well-travelled contributors. These are then distributed to help people visit loved ones affected by terminal cancer.
Located in Palawan in the Philippines, El Nido Resorts aims to nurture the local area and offer ecologically sound travel experiences. Around 90 per cent of all staff members (including those in senior positions) are from the local area, and the luxury resort supports local enterprises. Food is sourced from nearby farms and markets, and the hotel's guests receive complimentary bags and slippers woven by locals. In April 2013, the resort won the Community Benefit Award at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
In August 2013, The Rubens at the Palace Hotel in London unveiled a “living wall”, which is designed to reduce flooding in the city. On the exterior of the building, the wall contains 16 tons of soil and features around 10,000 plants, with the aim of bringing biodiversity and cleaner air to central London. Rainwater is harvested and then stored in tanks to irrigate the plants, meaning that it evaporates gradually rather than causing flooding.
Since the launch of Airbnb, the holiday homes-rental platform, P2P travel has never looked back. While the brand offers some exceptional properties, it remains broadly the domain of mid-market and budget travellers. In 2014, however, luxury travel companies will increasingly modify the P2P process to provide more exclusive versions of this typically far-reaching consumption model. This may include platforms that facilitate exchanges between select groups of travellers or the increasing emergence of travel brands that only speak to those who meet demanding membership criteria.
Architects House Exchange is an online community enabling architects around the world to swap their homes for travel purposes. Membership is open only to individuals who are part of a national association of architects, with the site facilitating contact between members. Users can create a profile containing photographs and details about their home, or choose to place an alert outlining where or when they would like to holiday in an AHE property.
High-end travellers are increasingly on the lookout for authentic experiences that provide a sense of the locality they’re visiting . Launched in Malaysia and Singapore during Q3 of 2013, PlateCulture is responding to that desire by enabling amateur chefs to host meals for paying guests in their homes. Diners can enjoy a unique and authentic meal, and engage with people in the area they’re visiting; hosts pay a fee to PlateCulture for every booking they accept.
These branded examples are just a taster of things to come in 2014, a year which will present even more opportunities for larger luxury brands to cater to their clientele by adopting new innovations, adding nuance, adapting previously niche trends and ultimately bettering their offerings by picking up from where 2013 left off .
Lola Pedro is a senior industry analyst at London-based trend firm trendwatching.com . One of the world's leading trend firms, it monitors and reports on emerging consumer trends, insights and innovations. You can follow its latest reports on Twitter @trendwatching .