As countries reopen their borders and international air travel resumes, pent-up demand for hard-earned vacations is driving new luxury travel trends. Travel advisors and experts from the Global Travel Collection (GTC) recently shared key insights from travel bookings at “Elevate,” a virtual conference and trade show that brought together luxury travel advisors with 300 leading luxury travel suppliers.
Here’s what they had to say:
Luxury Travel Planning
Luxury is being redefined. Maya George of Tzell Travel Group notes luxury travel is now more than expensive five-star hotels and first-class flights. It’s the total package from beginning to end, and the connections made through the travel experience. As for booking windows, planning for travel is now done farther out. Tiffany Bowne of All Star Travel Group shares that she’s already booking summer and fall 2022 trips for clients, many of whom are also using a travel advisor for the first time. They’re also booking multiple luxury trips at a time.
In addition, GTC reports that travelers are spending more. It’s been almost two years since some clients have taken a trip, said Scott Davis of ALTOUR, so they’re willing to pay more for their next vacation.
Brazil is trending worldwide, according to Wagner Barros of Colletts Travel. “Some places in Brazil remind travelers of the Maldives,” he says. Similarly, exotic, far-off destinations are still in demand. Travelers are traveling to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for sport fishing, said Paulette Darensburg of Protravel International. Maya George adds that there’s also a huge buzz around Zanzibar and Roatan, Honduras.
That said, travelers are still flocking to the Caribbean and Mexico, with privacy as a big request. Amy Blackenship of ALTOUR explains that private villas are plentiful in Mexico and the Caribbean, and these destinations are reached easily by private jet.
Like privacy, safety and ease of entry are paramount for luxury travels. Leslie Tillem of Tzell Travel Group says clients are constantly asking questions about travel requirements and health and safety protocols. This is expected to continue well into the next few years.
Lily Szemplinski of In The Know Experiences adds that people want something different. She says that her clients want all the details of their trips taken care of so they can seek out new experiences that are inspiring and enlightening. To that end, Kamala Cummings, also of In The Know Experiences, notes her clients are looking at travel as a means to rejuvenate their souls: They’re seeking experiences and accommodations that are infused with gastronomy, art and fashion.
Luxury travelers are also seeking sustainability. Wagner Barros continues this is a trend that is going to stay as clients are increasingly asking for eco-friendly hotels and operators.
Luxury is not necessarily opulent hotels anymore; it is becoming more experiential and cultural, based within offerings at a property and within the destination itself, shares Stephen Scott, Protravel International. Perhaps the best way to experience the destination is through small boutique resorts and villas. These are the most sought-after accommodations, along with private yachts, notes Linda Sergeant of Tzell Travel Group. (This also ties in with “privacy:” Travelers want access to resort amenities but with the private space.)
Domestically, luxury clients are looking for properties outside of major cities. What the pandemic has shown is we need more hotels in these areas, says Ashley Les of Protravel International.
Space travel is piquing interest as a genuine possibility. Greg Kiep of Protravel International notes space travel is something that, though still new to the luxury travel space, will continue to gain interest over the next five years.
Along the sustainability lines, more travelers are opting for trains over flights. Quality alone time—another factor in this decision—is underestimated, says Maya George. She adds that some travelers are preferring to take longer routes or different methods of travel, such as long, scenic train rides, to get away.
Cruising is also making a big comeback, according to GTC. There is heightened interest in luxury river cruising, particularly in Europe for 2022 and 2023, comments Paulette Darensburg. In addition, world cruises are selling out in record time, notes Scott Davis.