Luxury travellers seek personalised and authentic experiences

In the new and emerging world of luxury travel, experiences matter more than destinations; the unique and innovative experience that has been curated as per the choices and preferences of travellers.

Luxury travel has traditionally been considered as journey undertaken with utmost care, comfort and indulgence. Flying in a private jet charter, first class or business class, staying in the most exclusive hotels and resorts and holidaying at trendy destinations are some of the basic features of luxury travel. Needless to say that luxury travel is meant only for those who can bear its hefty cost.

While luxury travel continues to be the exclusive domain of the affluent, the segment is evolving with time and new trends are replacing the old ones. In their pursuit of something new and unique, luxury travellers are giving preference to authentic and innovative experiences over typical extravagant journeys. Travellers are becoming savvier, discerning and experimental; they are becoming more demanding in terms of quality and experiences. The new luxury travellers are not satisfied with just high-end comfort and indulgence. They want much more than lifestyle amenities such as spa, salon, swimming pool, etc. They now want very authentic and personalised experiences delivered with complete seamlessness.

Authentic & innovative experience
The luxury travellers now want to experience something authentic and innovative for their holidays. For them, mere staying in a five-star hotel is no longer enough. The hotel must provide unique, authentic and creative experience to its guests to differentiate itself from the other luxury hotel. The discerning and demanding luxury travellers are driving hotels to be creative and innovative. They also try local cuisines. Because of this new trend, luxury hotels are offering activities and experiences with authentic local flavor.

This doesn’t mean that luxury travellers now care less of high-end amenities, but in addition to these amenities, they want more. They are interested in knowing local communities and their culture. They interact with local people such as their guides and people on the street to understand the place. As a result they return home with an enhanced understanding of the place and the ever-lasting memories of a pleasant and rewarding experience from their journey.

A new report ‘Shaping the Future of Luxury Travel’ by Amadeus says: global consumers are increasingly spending their disposable income on experiences rather than material goods. And consumers’ desire for these life experiences is spurring a growth in luxury travel that is outpacing the rest of the travel industry. Luxury travellers want unique, exclusive and exceptional experiences from their holidays. There are some who want to emotionally connect with the destination and for this purpose they interact with local communities. There are others who want to maxi- mize their experiences. They want maximum rejuvenation and complete disconnection from their day to day life. For these kinds of luxury travellers, holidays are all about high-end service and amenities; they wish to be pampered to the hilt.

Personalisation has emerged as another important trend in luxury travel. Luxury travellers want complete personalised experience from hotels and resorts and other services. Nothing less is expectable to them. Hotels and resorts are focusing more on customized guest experience that is offered as per the demand and preference of guests. Luxury guests want the latest, the rarest and the best experience. A new luxury traveller wants their journey personalised as per his requirements and preferences so that he/she has very unique and seamless travel experience. The emerging new phenomenon is that demands for personalised and exclusive experiences are growing significantly. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer viable option for five-star hotels. Luxury ceases to be true luxury when it is not exclusive and inspiring. In this information age, information is flowing from every nook and corner, and consumers are well informed. They have far more options than before. This has given rise to much more personalised approach in luxury travel, where choices vary hugely from person to person depending on their background, perception and preference.

“Luxury means different things to different people and this is especially true today. As emergent middle classes seek the material aspect of luxury travel, more mature markets are craving a new, evolved kind of luxury. This is why offering luxury customers a relevant personal and exclusive experience will become even more crucial than it is today – it will be a differentiating factor between old and new luxury,” said Rob Sinclair-Barnes, Strategic Marketing Director at Amadeus IT Group, adding that for travel companies, understanding their role in delivering an end-to-end luxury experience for a traveller is key to improving collaboration, and reinforcing an industry-wide push for consistent luxury service.

Art & culture
Another significant latest trend in luxury travel industry is that travellers are now taking interest in art and culture. With increased interest of travellers in art and culture, hotels are now employing in-house artists and creating art galleries to fulfil the demands of their guests. These galleries showcase authentic pieces of local artifacts. Hotels organize cultural programs in which local artists perform. Also, they participate in local festivals and carnivals to indulge in real cultural experience of the place. Luxury travellers have now also become cultural explorer and keen observers of art and culture of the place they visit. Their desire to explore new culture is taking them to new and emerging destinations, which are rich in culture, or have been largely unexplored. In short, the emphasis is more on cultural experience than on materialist luxury.

Seamless pleasure
Seamless experience has emerged as one of the key elements of luxury travel. Luxury travellers wish to have an overall pleasant and seamless travel experience. A seamless travel gives travellers more time to relax and enjoy without any inconvenience. Their every moment is precious and they want to enjoy every moment of their trip and get right value for their money. Here, role of service providers right from travel agents to hotels is very important to offer seamless experience to their guests.

Responsible Luxury
Nowadays, the concept of responsible luxury is becoming popular among travellers and they are becoming more and more conscious towards environment. Today luxury travel is an activity not only to pamper yourself but also an act to show your commitment to the planet and the local community. Luxury travellers are now increasingly becoming conscious of their indulgence and expenditure, and avoiding any activity which is not favourable for environment. Thanks to the growing awareness about environment, many hotel chains are adopting sustainable travel practices and taking green initiatives. Many big hotel brands are now practicing the concept of responsible luxury. ITC, an Indian luxury hotel brand, has set the benchmark for respo nsible luxury in the world. It is the most environment-friendly luxury hotel chain in the world.

Amadeus’ report: Key findings
• We have entered a new age of luxury travel, where luxury is curated, real-time and experience- led
• North America and Western Europe account for 64% of global outbound luxury trips, despite only making up 18% of the world’s population
• From 2011-2025, Asia Pacific’s luxury travel market will see faster overall growth than Europe’s, but this growth will decelerate from 2015-2025
• India’s luxury market CAGR of 13% is higher than any of the other BRIC nations, and is the highest of the 25 countries explored in this report
• A human desire for more rewarding experiences provides an essential catalyst to evolve and improve travel industry quality and service standards
• A hierarchy of luxury travel needs is identified, ranging from 5-star quality and service standards to exclusive VIP privacy and security

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