Top Luxury Travel Trends To Watch
By Lorraine Abelow Founder & President, Abelow PR | January 28, 2018
Experiential and authentic travel is the buzzwords that tickle people’s fancy. Not just going to the same hotel or destination, they are looking for new destinations. Even in the private jet sector, people aren’t repeating the same routes. Customers are actively seeking out new and different places all the time and a top public relations agency can get you exposure to appeal to their new instincts and attract reservations.
The growing affluent market is looking to expand their horizons, so position your property as offering an experience they have not had before.
What Is Changing In Family Travel?
Adventure – budget or luxury style tops many families bucket list nowadays. So it is smart for hoteliers to create packages that offer exciting excursions that are active. Since often the group is comprised of extended families, and multi-generational, it is wise to have an excursion specialist. It could be saying at a three or four-star hotel in Colorado or California, and hiking in Yosemite, for example, if the kids of old enough.
Publications to promote your story range from Conde Nast Traveler to the New York Times. There are also the highly influential Mom blogs, with their devoted readers. And since moms, or grandmothers are the ones most frequently planning vacations, marketing to them will be fruitful.
The group can run from six to as many as sixteen, depending on the number of grandchildren involved, if close relatives join the group. With adventure travel being big for Baby Boomers who are often extremely fit, and also often footing the bill, a surprising number of activities are popular.
There are tree houses in Arizona and mountain biking in Vermont. There is rim to rim hiking in the Grand Canyon. And of course, bragging rights for the parents and their offspring about where they have been and what they've done is part of the scene. It is wise for hotels to post to their social media accounts using creative hashtags to attract families. Your agency should be able to promote your offerings through Instagram, which is particularly popular in the travel sector.
Which Destinations Are Likely To Succeed?
Traditionally, it’s those inveterate travelers following The Rough Guide that pioneered destinations, and luxury followed. That continues to be the case with many destinations such as Costa Rica, but there are new places where luxury is coming in first and fast like Nicaragua. The same applies to the Mauritius, Vietnam and Bali. Each has a number of world-class resorts that have opened up recently. Nicaragua recently opened a new private jet airport catering to this segment of the market. It’s like Costa Rica was several years ago. A magazine to take a look at if you want to know about emerging destinations is Afar. Also, Outside covers adventure travel and often positions them as “luxury for the hardcore.”
Price still drives decision making for the luxury traveler – everyone likes a good deal. Type-A personalities and entrepreneurs are always out perusing for deals. Even the luxury traveler wants to get their money’s worth. Offer high value – that is what the traveling public is seeking today. You can do that with packages and offers that roll up services with room rates. A good example is at Canyon Ranch Spa in the Berkshires, they included a number of spa treatments together with the room rate and two dinners. Then prospective guests feel like they are not going to pay significantly more than the package price.
Curating For Your Guest
It is all about customizing and personalizing the client’s experience. Your concierge team should be able to provide “curated” itineraries catered to the individual guest. They have to be prepared to reassure guests with confidence that what you have planned for them has never been done before – or few, anyhow. And if you tell them to be on the dock for a dive at 8 a.m., they will be there, so you better be ready. Or maybe they skip the Louvre and head over to the captivating Rodin Museum instead.
If it is a hotel in New York City, for example, you can offer them a personalized docent tour with an expert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art. Then if you are hosting a Jewish guest, send them up for a sneak preview of a show at the Jewish Museum. If your hotel is located in Houston, arrange for the guest to have a special viewing of the Rothko Chapel.
How Can You Attract Affluent Chinese Traveler?
Since the Chinese traveler has become ubiquitous worldwide, it is important to cultivate them. These are curious and tenacious travelers, with a surprising amount of disposable income. However they also want to feel they are getting a deal. So it is for in an hotelier’s best interest to lay on the little extras that really make Chinese guests feel at home. In big city hotels, where these travelers are likely to go options to consider are a Chinese breakfast, Chinese newspapers and TV channels in the rooms, adaptors for Chinese electrical appliances, and an in-room guide in Mandarin telling the guest how to use all the facilities.
Some hotels should consider a Mandarin speaker on the concierge desk if you are serious about this market, both to make the guests feel comfortable, and to sell extras such as rounds of golf and tourist excursions. It is a good idea to court the foreign press based in New York City. That includes those from China.
Luxuriants No Longer Want Souvenirs
The elite traveler now thirsts for experiences over acquisitions during their stay. This is “good news for travel, bad news for handbags,” Chris Sanderson, co-founder of the Future Laboratory, a trend-forecasting agency, said at a Ritz-Carlton hotels breakfast. Owning specific, expensive products like the Hermès Kelly bag doesn’t mean as much anymore. Travel experiences—and posting about them in social media—matter more.
The Next Travel Buzzword: Simplicity
Words like “curated,” “artisanal,” and “authentic” fill press releases, but at ILTM, the buzzword was “simplicity.” True luxury is slowing down—that moment of decompression when you see a phenomenal view—and feeling completely unburdened. This trend is illustrated by the success of such magazines as Dwell and others, which focus on pairing down to the essentials. Other magazines that feature simplicity are Martha Stewart Living and outlets like WeBlogTheWorld.com, a blog with a large following.
Small Has Never Been Better
The trend toward boutique size hotels is pervasive. Marriott, for example, launched the Autograph brand, which features properties that are under two hundred rooms and have a distinct reflection of the local culture. Meanwhile, Small Luxury Hotels of the World coined this phrase “Small Has Never Been Better,” perhaps as a way to position them against large chain hotels and resorts.
The average size across the brand is 48 rooms. InterContinental Hotels will open a hotel in Venice in 2018 with just 55 rooms, unusual for a larger luxury chain. Guests staying in small hotels tend to want ultra-immersive experiences. “Clients are asking us to create experiences for them that will help them grow as people and as a family,” Ezon says of the trend. “A beach resort is no longer just about pampering yourself; it’s about connecting.” Travel and Leisure and other major outlets are covering boutique properties in their “Deals “ sections, so make sure to pitch them.
Family Owned Properties
Family-owned properties, capitalizing on the travelers’ desire to make deep, local connections, will become an even bigger draw in the upcoming year. In Alaska, Winterlake and Tutka Bay Lodges (both are National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World) are owned and operated by renowned chef Kirsten Dixon, her outdoorsman husband Carl, and they’re grown children.
In Sorrento, Italy, the beloved Grand Excelsior Vittoria, surrounded by lush gardens and Bay of Naples views, has been run by the Fiorentino family since 1834. The Beau-Rivage in Geneva is adding 17 show-stopping top-floor suites to its historic building this spring, and is still run by the Mayer family as it has for the past five generations.
Your sales team has to be able to speak to customers knowledgeably about what the hotel is offering. To attract guests you have to be able to offer things in a way that’s different from other properties.
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