At the 30th annual Virtuoso Travel Week, held in Las Vegas at Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa, the luxury travel network discussed the latest values among luxury travelers. We see all sorts of trends popping up—from experiential travel and “live like a local”-style encounters to family-oriented or small-group excursions and cruises—but why are these the types of trips that luxury travelers are looking for?
As it turns out, there are seven leading values among luxury travelers: Freedom, friendship, inner-peace, security, wisdom, kindness and eco-centricity—that’s according to a recent study, named “The Guiding Principles for Luxury Travelers,” conducted by Virtuoso in partnership with YouGov. Here’s what else we learned:
Accountability in sustainability was one of the concepts that have shown the most growth of luxury travelers, the study found. Eighty-seven percent agree that they like brands that are committed to doing the right thing (while 56 percent said they strongly agree). In addition, 82 percent agreed that they are looking to connect with brands that have a lasting, positive impact on the world and 72 percent agreed that the ethics behind a luxury product or brand is a key determinant in their decision to buy it.
“Worth It” Mindset
For these sustainable products—as well as all other top options—luxury travelers overwhelmingly agreed that they are willing to pay full price if it means getting the best in service. And, somewhat obviously, 73 percent said that it’s difficult to scale back the quality of trips once they’ve experienced “true luxury.” Three-quarters of respondents added that luxury will always have a place in their life and the same number agreed that luxury brands are worth the cost.
However, it should be noted that 45 percent said that spending money on luxury is a waste and 31 percent agreed that it’s becoming difficult to find fresh luxury experiences. Perhaps it’s a sign that the traveler is evolving faster than the supplier. These seemed to be the only topics to receive moderate criticism, as 61 percent said they expect to spend more on luxury this year, and 71 percent say they expect to increase their spend on luxury travel this year
A Sense of History
A brand’s history is very important to luxury travelers. Eighty-seven percent responded, saying they agree that they like brands that have history and heritage, while 65 percent said it’s extremely important for a leisure trip to immerse themselves in the local culture. This is echoed in that a vast majority of luxury travelers (92 percent) say they seek meaningful experiences in their free time. These meaningful experiences aren’t solely for the client but their family. Just over three-quarters (77 percent) said that travel plays a vital role in the way they raise their children.
The sense of community extends beyond meeting with locals but that luxury travelers are trying to connect with other luxury travelers, as well. Forty percent said it was very important to meet other travelers on a leisure trip.
Increase Across the Boards
This type of sustainable, meaningful travel wasn’t segregated to on segment, either. Virtuoso announced that luxury travel sales are up for cruise, tour, on-site and hotel for 2018, which are up 13, 10, 11 and 29 percent over 2017, respectively. And as far as 2019 is concerned, advanced bookings for cruise, tour and on-site are up 15, 9, and 14 percent, respectively.
The niche markets are also changing. The key trends among luxury travelers, according to Virtuoso are multigenerational, active/adventure, river cruising, food and wine, and celebration travel. Multi-gen travel has been a top “trend” for several years running, meaning it’s likely no longer a trend but a fundamental way of travel. Active and adventure travel may reach that point soon as it surpassed river cruising, last year’s No. 2 trend. Food and wine made its first appearance in the top five, and celebration travel also has continued to grow in popularity.
Where are these luxury travelers visiting, though? For U.S. travelers, the top five destinations for fall and holiday travel are Italy, France, South Africa, Israel and Germany. As for families, they are visiting more remote/less typical destinations (such as Italy or Orlando, FL). Virtuoso found that some top destinations for families include the Galapagos, Cuba, Antarctica, Botswana and Mongolia. Generation Z (the iGeneration) has also made a large impact on the way families travel. These kids are on Instagram and see the experiences that are available to them, and actually offer input during the travel-planning process as to where they want to go and what they want to do. Tip: They like visually appealing destinations, so they can share their experiences on social media.