Luxury Trends

Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy, makes a presentation on the travel and leisure habits of the affluent Americans at the Luxury Travel Advisor’s Ultra Summit.

Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy, makes a presentation on the travel and leisure habits of the affluent Americans at the Luxury Travel Advisor’s Ultra Summit.

At Luxury Travel Advisor’s Ultra Summit this year, held May 22-24 in Dana Point, CA, advisors and top luxury suppliers heard a provocative presentation from Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy, who reported on the currents of change in the industry. The data, culled from 1,667 luxury travelers, examined the travel and leisure habits of the wealthiest 1 percent and 5 percent of U.S. households. Here’s a summary of some of the highlights:

1 Conspicuous leisure: The top 1 percent of households want to spend money on experiences, not products. They identified goods, services and experiences that were either “extremely desirable” or “very desirable.” The five most desirable luxuries were a smartphone, freedom to work from home, vacation home in the mountains or beach, extended time off from work and taking exotic vacations.

2 Transformative travel: Because affluent travelers have been to many places and own many products, travel needs to continue to stimulate and engage them. “Once you’ve been everywhere and own everything, travel becomes the means to perhaps a different and better you. Travel becomes the means to self-actualization,” Fair said.

3 Art is the new food: People are traveling to visit art fairs like Art Basel, museums and major exhibits, just as they travel for fine cuisine. “[Resonance] thinks that contemporary art will perhaps see the same evolution in the growth of popularity as we have seen in terms of celebrity chefs over the last 20 years,” Fair continued.

4 The urban resort: People are visiting urban resorts more often for vacation as compared to the traditional beach vacations. Cities have become popular for their fine dining, great hotels and sophisticated cultural offerings. Case in point, New York City welcomed a record-breaking 58.3 million visitors last year, reported Fair.

5 High design to homey: This idea is borne out of the concept that for every trend there is a counter-trend (think Newton’s third law). Fair explained that contemporary design elements will most likely dominate hotel design in the next decade, but super affluent travelers are reacting and will possibly start seeking accommodations that feel more like home in the future.

6 Wealthy is healthy: Fitness centers and spas are very important to the uber wealthy. Building on that idea, vacationers now want to know how a trip will make them a better person overall. “The idea of wellness, mindfulness, happiness starts to percolate in all the language in luxury space and it’s replacing this idea about pampering, taking care of you, now you’re coming here to be engaged in some way shape or form,” Fair explained.

7 Golf is not dead: The demise of golf is widely exaggerated. The sport rode a great wave during Tiger Woods’ championship years, but has admittedly diminished somewhat in popularity. However, there is still a strong demand for golf and resorts are learning how to configure courses that will be fitting for championship tournaments as well as golfers of all skill levels.

8 Experience curation: Vacation-goers now expect their experience to be enhanced through both people and technology. Fair discussed that there is room for improvement when it comes to using technology to fully curate a trip. However, it is good news that as discerning travelers don’t have a lot of time to plan vacations, the value of advisors and services is increasing. In fact, Resonance research found that 39 percent of the top 1 percent are more likely to use a travel advisor. We like the sound of that.