Words by Amrita Bhalla, Managing Director, A.B Consulting
Luxury travel is growing faster than any other form of travel. When looking at the specifics, the global luxury hotel market will continue to expand at a growth rate of four per cent through 2021, according to a report from Transparency Market Research.
At A.B Consulting, we specialize in providing HR Advisory services to the luxury hospitality sector. With our experience and shared knowledge we often have valuable discussions with colleagues, clients and customers around quality luxury service and differentiating factors.
“Luxury travel is indeed growing fast in Canada (and beyond), and service providers are all facing challenges to address and satisfy this market,” says Frederic Dimanche, Director, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism at University. “One such challenge is the difficulty to hire and retain qualified staff, front-line and managerial, that understand luxury customers. To help respond to those challenges, we are launching at Ryerson University a Luxury Management Program whose objective is to help Canadian organizations be stronger competitors in the international marketplace.”
In this article, we will be touching on six key luxury travel trends and providing insights on how hospitality and travel companies can build off of these trends to attract and enhance travellers' experiences.
1. Authentic travel
Travellers are now seeking more authentic experiences when travelling. They want local immersion and to see what’s beneath the tourism-central surface of a city. Part of this will come with travellers seeking trips outside of peak seasons and offering luxury travel packages, similar to AirBnB experiences.
Personal tours can be found through platforms like AirBnB, where a local will guide you through authentic experiences. This may include riding a horse and exploring medieval landscapes just outside of Barcelona: discovering the hidden crevices of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul with a guide, a city that is expected to increase in tourism this year with the launch of their new airport: or snorkelling between two continents in Iceland.
2. Family travel
Incorporating all members of the family during their travels is a growing trend to look out for this year. According to Intuit Canada, on-demand workers will make up 45 per cent of the Canadian workforce by 2020 allowing parents to have more flexible time to travel with their kids. The biggest driver to pursue family travelling is to spend more quality time with loved ones, says Agoda.
Offering custom family packages, adding junior amenities, and creating kids-friendly events is a strong vantage point for luxury operators.
We asked Mark Sterner, General Manager of Viceroy Sugar Beach in St. Lucia about their renowned Kids Club program, “Sugar Club."
“Our team does a great job with a nice range of activities for all ages while keeping it interesting, innovative and authentic for all. My personal favourite is the tie dye; each child has their own piece of self-made art,” says Sterner. “Also, given our location (and depending on age), the guided snorkelling tour - or for the brave ones - a guided NIGHT snorkelling tour on our house reef in the marine park, should definitely be on the bucket list.”
3. Curated experiences
Expect to see more travellers taking weekend trips due to the convenience of better flight routes and the need to gather more experiences with limited days off work. Almost 60 per cent of travellers value experience over material possessions, meaning travellers will visit destinations without room in their bags but rather seeking experiences. Working with a limited time frame means seeking luxury experiences tailored to what travellers enjoy.
Luxury hotel group, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, developed a successful curator program; a collection of hand-picked, invited guests to share insider travel tips. Notable guests include Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan, fashion icon Iris Apfel, and NFL player Steve Young. This program engages travellers to explore Rosewood destinations through the eyes of influencers who are the most familiar with the area, which in turn, creates a luxury yet unique experience.
Alongside their curator program, Rosewood Hotels also curated the top things to do for each destination. These are luxury recommendations with something for every luxury traveller: hidden high-end restaurant spots in New York City, family events in Dallas, art exhibitions in Dubai, cultural events in Los Cabos, and more.
4. Solo Travel
Travelling solo is growing in popularity - chasing the experiences of meeting like-minded travellers on the road while being able to explore based on your own interests. According to a survey produced by luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, nearly 40 per cent choose a trip because their partner didn’t share their interest in the destination, or scheduling conflicts prevented family or friends from joining them, while others travelled alone to pursue a personal passion, such as wildlife photography, history or archaeology.
5. Wellness Tourism
Disconnecting from the digital world surrounded by serenity at a wellness retreat is a trend expected to be on the rise for the year. According to Lonely Planet, the wellness tourism market increased by 10 per cent in 2018 and is expected to continue rising around 20 per cent annually.
Health-centric resort COMO Parrot Cay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos offers a wellness program called the COMO Shambhala. Included in the retreat are enzyme-rich cuisine, yoga and pilates, and holistic therapies including reflexology and Ayurveda. Guests can stay for a few days to work around their busy schedule while successfully disconnecting.
6. Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism focuses on the environment, economy, and socio-culture, to minimize the negative impacts on all three while travelling. Though it is a trend we saw in
previous years and continue to see in 2019, millennials and generation Z are bringing it to light as a lifestyle to maintain for years for the health of our earth.
For instance, Italy has 54 UNESCO heritage sites, the most in the world, and with its mass amounts of tourists, sustainable and eco-friendly tourism may be needed to the country to help preserve those sites. This means attracting luxury travellers to the countryside rather than larger cities, helping with creating authentic experiences and jobs for locals.