Virtuoso: Top Luxury Travel Trends of 2020

Unexpected experiences and milestone celebrations are the travel trends to watch for 2020, according to Virtuoso’s latest Luxe Report. Here’s a look at the top six trends from the report:  

Untouristed and Unexpected: With some favorite destinations seeing an untenable rise in demand, the well-traveled luxury set is seeking remote, unspoiled destinations to avoid crowds at over-touristed locales, Virtuoso said. The luxury travel network’s advisors report a rise in requests for places ranging from the culturally distinct to those steeped in nature, including Borneo, Greenland and Oman.

Country Coupling: Travelers are looking to explore multiple countries, even during shorter journeys, according to the report. Trips that mix locales are trending, especially ones with surprising combinations. Travelers may pair a ski adventure with a beach finale, or a city stay with a jungle adventure, or a well-traveled place followed by a little-known spot to mingle with locals. The focus is on varied experiences that enrich the trip with each stop.

Tasty Travels: Culinary travel has transcended a trend to become its own niche, Virtuoso said. Culinary experiences go beyond restaurants to encompass cooking classes, eating in private homes, Michelin-starred restaurants, farm-to-table visits and truffle hunting. When it does come to top restaurants, though, some travelers are requesting reservations at the same time they book their flights – sometimes even before.

Group Getaways: Gen X-ers, Boomers and even Matures are traveling to bond with friends and others who share their passions or are at the same life stage. Women’s travel is on the rise as well, including soft adventure trips and affluent girl getaways. Groups of couples are also traveling together, including buddymoons, where newlyweds travel with a group of friends.

EQ Encounters: Today’s traveler is seeking more profound experiences leading to increased emotional intelligence, Virtuoso said. Travelers are seeking local connections that align with their passions, such as a tasting with the owner of a local winery, a motorcycle tour or a personal shopper to guide them through the latest pop-up stores. They also want accommodations that reflect the destination – inns full of character, small neighborhood hotels and private homes.

Enjoying the Journey: According to the study, upscale travelers are using exclusive services, including meet-and-greets planeside, to avoid the stress of changing terminals, locating gates or waiting in customs lines. For example, the Private Suite at Los Angeles International Airport offers a members-only terminal where travelers are escorted through TSA screenings, driven to and from aircraft in BMWs and provided a room to relax in between flights.

A new trend for the Luxe Report this year is traveling to celebrate a milestone. At the same time, multigenerational travel maintains its stronghold as the top trend of the year, with authenticity moving into second place from ninth in 2019 and cruising dropping out of the top five.

In terms of destinations, Italy continues to be the global favorite, as well as the top spot for solo travelers, while slipping to second place in the honeymoon and family travel categories. Croatia heads the list of emerging destinations due to the “Game of Thrones effect” as well as its rich history and convenience to other major European hubs. Antarctica, poised for a big year, takes the top spot for adventure travel from longtime favorite South Africa (now in fourth place) and ranks number two as an emerging destination. And Greece catapulted into the top five for three categories, including the top spot for Millennials as well as second on the global destinations list and a third place for honeymoons.

Key findings from the 2020 Virtuoso Luxe Report:

Top Travel Trends

  1. Multigenerational Travel
  2. Authenticity
  3. Active or adventure trips
  4. Family travel (immediate family)
  5. Celebration travel

Top Emerging Destinations

  1. Croatia
  2. Antarctica
  3. Iceland
  4. Japan
  5. Portugal

Top Global Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Greece
  3. France
  4. Japan
  5. Croatia

Top Adventure Destinations

  1. Antarctica
  2. Alaska
  3. Galapagos Islands
  4. South Africa
  5. Iceland

Top Millennial Destinations

  1. Greece
  2. Bali
  3. Croatia
  4. Iceland
  5. Cambodia

Top Cities

  1. Paris
  2. Barcelona
  3. Florence
  4. Rome
  5. London

Top Family Travel Destinations

  1. Hawaii
  2. Italy
  3. Orlando
  4. Costa Rica
  5. England

Top Honeymoon Destinations

  1. French Polynesia
  2. Italy
  3. Greece
  4. Bali
  5. Maldives

Top Solo Travel Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. England
  3. U.S.
  4. France
  5. Spain

Top Travel Motivations

  1. Celebrating a milestone
  2. Excitement of discovering new destinations
  3. Spending time with loved ones
  4. Rest and relaxation
  5. Crossing off Wanderlist items

A total of 1,300 travel advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East took the Luxe Report survey.

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