By Alejandro Pérez-Ferrant, CEO & Partner | The Blueroom Project, marketing and communications, Spain | firstname.lastname@example.org
If there is a travel segment traditionally alien to the crisis, this is luxury tourism. However, to be able to approach and work in any discipline, segment or niche market, the first thing to do is to really know the configuration and state of play.
At The Blueroom Project, in addition to our long experience in the field, we have asked ourselves this question and we have transferred it to the professional tourism sector in the form of a survey carried out at the end of 2017 by tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, airlines, cruise companies, MICE companies and tourism offices, obtaining 120 responses from executives in the areas of booking, sales / promotion, marketing & PR and management.
What is Luxury Travel?
According to the answers of these experts, "a luxury trip is determined by the uniqueness and exclusivity of the experience and by the personalization of the services".
First, the destination
As stated in the survey, “when making a purchase, high-level travelers first choose the destination and then the on-site service, preferably exclusive boutique hotels, followed by international hotels”.
In terms of customer profile, the majority are Generation X couples.
What they are sensitive to?
When they are on holidays, these clients "look for relaxation and comfort, and they also love tasting gourmet food, experiencing the local culture and making excursions in nature.”
In any case, they are also travelers who are "more sensitive to value for money and the added value, rather than the price".
In the 2016 report of the Global Blue Consultancy, Spain was seventh in the ranking of the main luxury travel destinations, preceded by France, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany and Singapore.
The luxurious tourist profile refers to people between 30 and 40 years, with a high purchasing power, an annual income of more than 150,000 euros and who travel a minimum of four times a year. They are tourists that repeat their destination and accommodation, for which the emphasis is on quality, privacy and exclusivity, and who usually travel in the months of August and December.
54% of this type of traveler spends between 5,000 and 10,000 euros on each trip, although their budget can reach up to 50,000 euros on special occasions.
In February 2018, Sabre published its latest report, identifying five trends to understand and analyze the future evolution of this segment:
1. Egocentrism par excellence
People continue with the infinite search for the idealized version of themselves that they have created in their minds. In the future, self-centered luxury lovers will continue to look for experiences out of the beaten track and that can be shared, as well as for products that enhance their well-being.
2. Without opulent luxuries
A growing number of experienced, and sometimes jaded, luxury travelers consider themselves post status consumers who are attracted to brands and products for quality, aesthetics and purpose. Thus, many of them choose goods and services which are not opulent, but which give them the opportunity to express their identity rather than the one prescribed by the brand.
3. Premium redeemed
Thanks to the increased concern for the impact of their actions, many travelers are more aware of the negative consequences of their consumption on the environment, society and health. This concern has been reinforced by the designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. There is a growing demand for brands that combine luxury and commitment.
4. Demand Extravaganza
In their aim of distinguishing themselves from mass products, the travelers of high purchasing power have raised their expectations to new levels of consumption towards an extravagant demand.
Looking to the future, experts point out that this type of on-demand service, driven by the growing use of mobile phones, has reconnected with the expectations of customers and there exists endless opportunities to provide new approaches to this trend, such as combining it with the premium redeemed and offer luxury ethical services on demand.
5. Tailor made luxury
Luxury travelers have always sought deeper and more authentic connections with the places they visit; personalized and co-created experiences offer stories worthy to be shared in order to build their caché, but above all they help them distinguish themselves from the crowd. However, now, many of them want to build experiences that align with their unique interests, needs and values; trips that allow them to let the world know who they are and what they represent.
And in Spain, what is the profile...?
According to our survey; travel professionals said that:
- Luxury travel is associated with exclusive and unique experiences, as well as more personalized services.
- When making a purchase, high level travelers first choose the destination and then the on-site service, preferably exclusive boutique hotels followed by international hotels.
- The number of luxury trips is a maximum of 3 trips per year.
- Most luxury travelers still book offline and rely on the recommendations of a travel specialist.
- Generation X on the rise: most of them are couples aged between 36 and 55.
- When on holidays they look for relaxation and comfort, and they also love tasting gourmet food, experiencing the local culture and making excursions in nature.
- They are more sensitive to the added value, rather than the price.
- The most desired destinations are Maldives, Asia (Japan, Thailand…), USA, Dubai, Europe, South Africa, French Polynesia and the Caribbean.
- Their budget per trip ranges from 5,000€ up to 7,000€.
- They rely on recommendations from friends and family, as well as Internet reviews.
- What to expect in the upcoming years: Over the next few years, high-level travelers will be extremely demanding, knowledgeable and increasingly sensitive to eco-friendly travel solutions. Luxury travel will increase by 6-10% over the next 2-3 years.
In the near future, only those brands that focus on more individualized and transforming forms of luxury consumption will be capable of benefiting from this attractive growing sector.
The key lies in creating and communicating innovative products and services that satisfy the growing need for personal well-being, combined with an authentic and sustainable luxury experience for each of the travelers' profiles: primarily couples and families.
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