A recent survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group found that luxury travelers are most interested in exclusive access and experiences—particularly VIP tours, private cars and drivers, and customized culinary experiences—during their travels. The annual Travel Trends Survey received answers from thousands of advisors across the continent, including those from Protravel International and Tzell Travel.
Private villa or home stays and private beach or island bookings also ranked in the top five most sought-after experiences by clients, according to the survey.
The 2018 ranking of Top Luxury Experiences in order:
- Exclusive (VIP) Tour – 66 percent
- Private Car and Driver – 51 percent
- Custom Culinary Experiences – 46 percent
- Private Villas or Homes – 39 percent
- Private Beach or Island – 25 percent
Examples of private, VIP-level experiences Travel Leaders Luxury Brands advisors have provided to clients include:
- “In London, I like to send clients to a behind-the-scenes experience with the Queen’s Guard while they prepare to take their posts at Buckingham Palace before the Changing of the Guard. It’s a way to experience British pomp and circumstance up close.” – Josh Alexander, Protravel International
- “In Florence, I planned an exclusive guided tour of the Vasari Corridor at the top of the famous Ponte Vecchio, the closed-to-the-public corridor used by the Medici family to travel from the Uffizi Gallery to the Pitti Palace.” – Ann St. Hilare, Protravel International
- “I arranged for a private audience with one of the last remaining Samurai swordsmiths in Japan for a family who arranged their whole trip around his availability. There are not many Samurai swordsmiths left so it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn about this ancient art firsthand.” – Leslie Tillem, Tzell Travel Group
- “In Morocco, I arranged for clients to take an Arabic calligraphy lesson in the home of an artist in Essaouira, a hike through the Atlas Mountains and then eat with a local Berber family in their home.” – Henley Vazquez, Passported, a Tzell Travel affiliate
- “In Canyon Point, Utah I arranged for my clients to take a sunrise helicopter ride to the top of Tower Butte. An experienced yoga specialist guided a private yoga and meditation session, one my clients will truly never forget, and afterwards the helicopter took them on a scenic flight back with views of Lake Powell and the vast landscape of the Utah desert.” – Jonny Drubel, Protravel International
- “I’ve arranged for clients to experience life as a Viking in Roskilde, one of the oldest towns in Denmark. They got a private tour of the Viking Ship Museum then boarded a replica Viking ship for a private sail on the Bay of Roskilde where they were able to assist the crew and feel how hard it was to sail in that era.” – Jody Bear, Bear & Bear Travel, a Tzell affiliate
The survey also found the top three international destinations among luxury travelers to be European (river) cruising, Caribbean cruising, and Italy, with European/Mediterranean cruising and Mexico rounding out the top five.
Here are the top 20 international destinations from Travel Leaders Group’s 2018 survey:
- European (River) Cruise
- Caribbean Cruise
- Europe (Mediterranean) Cruise
- Dominican Republic
- Europe (Baltic) Cruise
- Costa Rica
- South Africa
- St. Lucia
- Australia/New Zealand Cruise
- Panama Canal Cruise
More than 1,300 travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from Travel Leaders Network, All Aboard Travel, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate and Tzell Travel Group units participated in the Travel Trends Survey, which provides a barometer for what consumers in North America are booking most frequently.