To get to grips with where luxury tourism is headed, we really need to know what constitutes a modern luxury tourist.
That’s harder than you might at first think, as the number of tourists prepared to pay for a bespoke holiday experience is undoubtedly on the rise.
The picture becomes further obscured as the number of niche markets grows – including sports, adventure, health & wellbeing and experiential tourism – each with its own luxury element.
Add to that the speed at which economies can go down the pan these days and it’s hard, even from a cultural perspective, to know how to please the latest emerging middle and upper-class traveller set.
One trend that seems to be holding true across the luxury spectrum is length of stay. The industry is now moving towards breaks for those who can afford not just the money but also the time to experience different cultures and seek out adventurous activities.
Jennifer Fox, President of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, recently said: “As the economy continues to rebound, we’re seeing strong growth in the Consumer Confidence and Traveller Sentiment indexes, which translates into guests taking longer and more frequent vacations across all channels.”
After so long in the economic doldrums, it seems that people who can afford to want to take the opportunity to enjoy the here and now – and to heck with work!
A contributor to Forbes who attended last year’s Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, along with some 4,000 luxury travel advisors, and cruise and tour operators. She reported that: “Many advisors told me young, successful families in their early 30s and 40s are planning adventurous trips with young children and even babies. They want their children to have these experiences young and they don’t want to give up their own travel freedom.”
And increasingly they will extend the invitation to the wider family, as we see multigenerational luxury travel on the rise, with grandparents joining families on longer experiential breaks.
While the extended, authentic, culturally aware and even eco-friendly holiday has embedded itself into the luxury tourism sector, there seems to have been no danger of a drop-off in the standard luxury resort break – this is merely a widening of the luxury funnel.
And if a return to stability for the European and US markets ever comes, the collective sigh of relief will surely herald another luxury tourism boom.