The future of luxury travel includes five core trends that tap into the human desire to feel unique, and to access luxury on your own terms but not at the expense of others or the environment, says the new "Future of Luxury" report recently published by Sabre Corporation.
Consumers have a growing desire to broaden their personal horizons, and at the same time "to find purpose and cultivate empathy for others while doing so."
That's why smart brands will offer "individualized and transformative forms of luxury," Sabre said. Travel professionals should "shape experiences around traveler's emotions and help them discover new aspects of their own personalities in the process," to offer a personal transformative experience, and one that's uniquely theirs.
The five core luxury trends Sabre identified are:
1. The Quintessential Self
The Experience Economy has turned amazing vacations into the expected, and as a result, travelers are looking for an experience that fits their specific emotional needs. Sabre calls this an endless search to realize the idealized version of themselves that they carry around in their head. "They are looking for brands to help them in that quest, and if the results make for shareable content 'I'm doing this, you probably haven't heard of it yet,' then that's even better."
Sabre cites the monastery-turned-wellness hotel Les Monastere des Augustines (opened August 2016), as an example. Named by National Geographic as the number-one vacation spot for "a physical and mental reboot," the hotel offers holistic health practices including a silent breakfast, yoga and meditation.
The report also calls out The Four Seasons Hotel Milano, where a professional Nike running coach will draft a route designed to the guest's specific ability and goals.
2. No-Frills Chic
A rising number of luxury travelers are unimpressed with brands and status, and more interested in quality, aesthetic and purpose.
Many luxury travelers are looking for more subtle indulgences, choosing low-key brands, products and services that offer a chance to express their identity, rather than one prescribed by a brand. They seek off-the-grid experiences that convey prestige because they are unique and a contrast to traditional luxury.
3. Premium Redeemed
Thanks to an ever-greater awareness of the impact of their actions, many travelers feel increasingly guilty about the negative impact their consumption has on the environment, society and their health.
The luxurious Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, which opened last September in Nicaragua's rural countryside, offers sandboarding down an active volcano and horseback riding on 1,300 reforested acres. Founded by the not-for-profit American Nicaraguan Foundation, the hotel seeks to educate visitors about improving local employment, sustainable farming and environmental stewardship.
4. Extravagance on Demand
Luxury consumers will push their on-demand mindset to new highs, and into entirely new domains of consumerism. They'll move to "on-demand EXTRAVAGANCE," Sabre predicts.
The Vintage Fashion Trunk, for example, is a partnership between luxury vintage fashion e-tailer Vestiaire Collective and The Berkeley Hotel in London that enables guests to borrow vintage designer items free of charge “including Chanel purses, Dior earrings and Herme's silk scarves" dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Expectations around personalization are constantly being heightened by the online experience, where everything from music to advertising can be tailored to individual preferences and interests.
Late last year, for example, London-based Travel Unwrapped launch DNA Unwrapped, travel itineraries inspired by travelers' unique DNA. Users take a DNA test (a cheek swab mailed to a partner lab) to discover their family ancestry, and Travel Unwrapped helps build an itinerary inspired by their genetic makeup.
At The Affluent Traveler Collection Symposium, industry veteran Larry Pimentel shared insights and tips on selling luxury travel, including the importance of defining exactly what luxury travel is in today's market.