This year, why not redefine what luxury travel really means. The term “luxury” has taken on a negative connotation in recent years. As the average traveler becomes wearied by the seemingly over-privileged receiving better treatment, more and more are searching out a way to find their own style of luxury. Millennials tend to focus on the significance of experiences over things. And the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” is becoming passé.
What does this mean for luxury travel? Well for modern travelers it means changing the mindset about what is considered luxury. Here are five ways that the luxury travel industry is adapting the way they do business to adapt to the changing times.
1. SMALL is the New Big
Size used to be a main indicator in luxury travel. Bigger cabins, bigger hotels, more amenities, more staff. The trend these days is to the intimate. Guests are looking for connection, both within themselves and with those around them. It is no longer about having a hotel room the size of your entire house back home, but rather experiencing a connectivity with the culture, food, and people of the places visited. Even many hotel chains known for their super-sized hotels, are now offering alternative small hotels in cities such as Venice, where the true magic is discovered off the beaten path. Uber-immersive activities featuring one-on-one luxury have begun to take the place of a simple spa getaway.
2. It’s all about the EXPERIENCE
Travelers today no longer want to jet off to a distant destination and just return with souvenirs. A growing thirst for access to truly experience a location is becoming the new normal. The growth of tourism at the private game reserves of Africa are a perfect example. Travelers do not want to simply join a group safari day or two at the national park. The new luxury traveler wants to stare in awe at the elephant drinking out of their private plunge pool at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge. They want to gaze into the eyes of a Bengal tiger from the back of your elephant at Bandhavgarh National Park in India. Today’s traveler does not want to simply see the tombs at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. They want to spend time examining the personal tombs of the same artisans and workers who created such masterpieces for the Kings.
3. Keeping it SIMPLE
Among all of the keywords tossed about these days; artisanal and authentic studies show the one that comes up most often is simplicity. The basic fact is that it is a fast paced world. A generation overwhelmed with social media and instantaneous gratification are looking to disconnect, unhook, and go back to a simpler time. More and more travelers who had previously considered a 5* experience at an all-inclusive resort in the South Pacific necessary are, instead, finding themselves heading to a palm shack on a remote beach in Thailand. By unwinding from the modern world, the simplicity of decompressing somewhere that offers culture, great food, numerous activities and an interesting history is high on the list of priorities.
4. New DESTINATIONS
The luxury travelers today have “been there, done that” mindset. They have probably already toured the capitals of Western Europe, cruised the Nile, and perhaps even wandered along the Great Wall of China. Now they are ready for something more, something adventurous, something adrenal rushing, something different. For these travelers the world is their oyster. With restrictions to Cuba opening up it might be the right time to step back decades in history to discover for yourself the charm of her faded glory. The even more adventurous may search for Gorillas in Rwanda, follow Marco Polo’s footsteps along the Spice Road, or delve into Eastern Europe in the untraveled history of Bulgaria or Slovenia. No longer interested in simply checking common tourist destinations off of their bucket list, they are looking to really enrich themselves with educated travel to unique locations.
5. Keeping it in the FAMILY
With the focus on a more personal experience, today’s savvy travelers are reaching out to family run establishments. While any dude ranch can suffice if someone is just looking to ride horses, learn to rope, and sing around a campfire, it is an entirely different experience to spend a week on a farm still owned and operated by many generations of one family of ranchers. With a family experience you can truly appreciate the challenges and highlights of running a ranch, hotel, or restaurant. You can meet multiple generations, and appreciate the work ethic and patience that goes into creating a family legacy.
Luxury travel in the future is going to continue to focus more and more on experience over acquisition. Perhaps that experience will include a treat such as flying to your destination by private jet. Perhaps it will be a romantic boutique hotel along the river Seine or a beach bungalow on the beach in Thailand. The location is not, in the end, as important as the enrichment that can be gained from this new form of travel.
Tour operators and travel companies alike will continue to adjust. As small, intimate hotels spring up, so too shall 10 table restaurants where personal interaction with the chef is all part of the evening. Large scale cruise companies will still exist, but more and more people will turn to river cruises where it is possible to make new friends of everyone on board. The adventurous will move away from the old idea of a group tour to participate in small group tours offering the same destinations but seen in an entirely different way.
For this new group of luxury travelers, the world is waiting with open arms. Their outlook of enriching their own lives can only further enrich the world as a whole. For, by learning more about other cultures and ways of life, such travelers will return home to use their newfound knowledge to create change in their own cities. Welcome a new age of Luxury Travel.