Within any sphere of travel it’s important to understand where audiences are looking to go, what they want from their experience, and how their needs are changing.
To keep ahead of the curve, as hotel owners it’s important to re-evaluate what was once considered ‘luxury’ travel, as many of todays’ travellers are moving away from purely exclusive resorts and disconnected retreats. And despite the fact that many countries are experiencing financial crises, the demand for luxury travel is anticipated to be ‘higher than ever’ in the next five years.
What Luxury Travellers Want In 2023
Here are just a couple of key insights into what luxury travellers are looking for from their trips include:
- Clients want to ‘get under the skin’ of a destination
- An increasing focus on exploring hidden gems, activities, and neighbourhoods - what GlobeTrender calls ‘Gamma Destinations’
With this in mind, we take a closer look at some of the most notable current and upcoming trends within the luxury travel sphere, what opportunities these present for hotel owners, and how Hotelbeds are ideally positioned to offer hotels access to travellers within this segment.
More Conscious Luxury
Given that one of the prerequisites of luxury travel is a closer, ‘exclusive’ look at a destination of choice, there are many overlapping similarities between luxury travel and conscious travel. This intersect can be more clearly seen when we look at a few aspects of the ‘hierarchy of needs of the luxury traveller’:
- Indulgent Experience (meets/exceeds)
- Authentic Experience (cultural, not mass travel)
This narrative shift towards conscious travel, where authenticity is becoming more highly priced than ‘pan-global luxury’ is apparent across the travel industry as a whole, however with regards to luxury travel and what travellers are looking for from their experience, there are key considerations for the hospitality industry - particularly, the need for green initiatives.
Mostly, the importance of offering sustainable accommodation for consciously minded luxury travellers is never more apparent, in order to remain relevant within a market whose definition is rapidly changing.
As a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), at Hotelbeds we understand how critical it is not only for hotel owners to remain successful, but for the industry as a whole to shift towards conscious travel. Our Green Hotel Programme and Plastic-Free initiative are just two of the ways that we’re responding to the very real demand from environmentally conscious travellers, offering simple and effective tools for our travel trade clients to not only make green choices in how they’re selling experiences and hotels to end travellers, but to make positive change within the industry.
The Re-Emergence of China
Even though it will take time for China to be fully reinstated into the world travel market, the growing wealth across the region is a promising sign for outbound travel growth. According to Oxford Economics, there is potential for outbound travel to reach 48% of 2019 levels in 2023, which means roughly 17 million additional Chinese travellers will be exploring both international and domestic travel markets.
The reopening of China's tourism industry presents a wonderful opportunity for the growth of luxury travel. With the affluent demographics of Asia showing a strong demand for this style of travel, we can expect a massive outbound source market to emerge in the next few years.
As a global travel partner with a vast network of travel distributors, as well as valuable ancillaries for end travellers to enrich their trips, we’re ideally positioned to not only increase the visibility of our partners’ hotel(s) through a non-competing distribution channel, but also to a group of guests who:
- Have longer lead-times than other distribution channels.
- Cancel less often - for example, the cancellation rate for European hotels during FY22 was 31% when booked through our distribution channel, compared to the 65.5% seen in OTA bookings.
- Largely belong to long-haul markets
We offer all our clients access to fast-growing travel segments even in the most hard-to-reach spaces, while our cloud-based technology platforms provide fast, simple access to a network of global travel products to curate your clients’ bespoke travel plans. Put simply, working with us at Hotelbeds puts you in the right position to access some of the most valuable travel segments out there.
Pay Attention To Generation Alpha
A recent study from Globetrender highlighted this trend, revealing that these families are not afraid to spend big and travel far. The study also predicted a substantial hike in family trips, estimating an increase of 185% between 2021 and 2022, which we anticipate will carry over far and beyond 2023. As we look ahead to the next few years, it is safe to assume that luxury travel will see a sharp and sustained increase, particularly among wealthy families.
And as a passive but young demographic, Gen Alpha is reliant on their Millennial parents to spend for them, which means:
- Millennial travellers will be looking to accommodate their children - an increasingly influential and young demographic accustomed to regular travel and the digital era
- Luxury travel and luxury familial experiences may change as a result - from the rise of parent-child bonding trips to the increase in long-haul adventure trips, the way that luxury families go on holiday is changing.
It's essential to recognize the changing face of the modern family and adapt your offerings accordingly. For instance, in the UK, many families are led by single parents, around 90% of which are women. So, it's vital to question your preconceived notions about family travel and make sure your offerings meet the diverse needs of today's travellers. But what is clear is that there is no better time to cater for the elite and their younger generations.
‘Premium’ Travel As One To Watch
‘Premium’ travel has many names, but this segment can mostly be identified by where travellers sit on the plane - namely, those at the front. And while the premium segment may not be quite the same as luxury, the motivations, needs and travel styles are in a similar vein, so travel distributors would be remiss to discredit the growing opportunity that premium travellers present. Travel analytics companies like Forward Keys, in fact, have outlined premium travel as one to watch.
Recent insights suggest that the premium travel segment is recovering much faster than the economy segment in relation to 2019 levels. Interestingly, premium travellers also:
- Travel more regularly than economy travellers
- Spend more than average once in their destination of choice
- Stay for longer durations in their chosen destinations each time
In fact, at the end of 2022, premium segment travellers in America had stayed 14% longer compared to 2019 levels, with particular growth within small groups and families.
What opportunities does this present for hoteliers?
This is a rapidly growing segment of travellers who are willing to spend more in-destination, stay longer, and travel more frequently than those in the economy segment. So this means that recovery, in terms of revenue, is happening faster than visitor numbers, which is great news for host destinations and also great news for hotel owners looking to make the most of a high-spend, high-frequency traveller.
The Rise of High-Impact Conservation
As suggested in our article detailing some of the top travel trends for 2023, high-impact conservation remains another exciting opportunity within the luxury travel segment.
Pelorus, a provider of luxury trips, noted that many high net-worth travellers are no longer impressed by the type of excess that ‘luxury travel’ used to once mean, and that luxury is becoming more about the privilege of contributing to preserving and protecting the world’s environments. From spending time with marine biologists to joining conservationist efforts in Africa, the ultra-wealthy are beginning to fund experiences that make a tangible difference to the climate crisis, and capitalising on this type of traveller could lead to a huge uplift in your success as a hotel owner.
Partnering with in-destination organisations who offer a deeper experience than more ‘tokenistic’ give back schemes can be a key step for hotel owners looking to capture the interest of high-net worth clients looking to make a real difference. It’s critical to ensure that any partnerships offer tangible, real value to local communities and environments, in order to attract the calibre of luxury traveller looking to make an actual difference during their experience.
Luxury Wellness Tourism
CNTraveller suggests that ‘mindful movement is the new buzzword’ when it comes to luxury wellness as one of the top travel trends for 2023 and beyond, and we’re inclined to agree - though mindful movement is certainly not new as a concept! From hypnotherapy and nutritional assessments to astrology, forest bathing or sound baths, the concept of holistic wellness as a mainstream driver for travel has deserved a place on the radar since 2022.
Marketing wellness experiences is therefore becoming a key factor in many luxury hotels’ strategies, and our Star Collection Programme offers the perfect platform to maximise visibility to the right guest, as part of our dedicated marketing solutions for hotels - available exclusively to our hotel partners!
In order to remain relevant and keep up with demand, many hotels and hotel chains around the world have had to increase their wellness offerings by incorporating innovative, attractive experiences and facilities into their properties. In fact, some hotels are taking this one step further, incorporating high-tech medicine into wellness regimes and pushing the boundaries of what ‘wellness’ means - from hotels offering traditional Chinese medicines featuring nutrigenomics (the relationship between between diet and genes); on-site assessments that curate bespoke stress-relieving activities; or even offering clients treatments believed to increase ‘health span’ including stem-cell therapy, DNA analysis and customised immune-boosting.
In fact, at Hotelbeds we have seen a significant increase in luxury bookings with many destinations experiencing growth exceeding 50% in the last couple of years as more travellers than ever prioritise mind and body wellness, and preventative care. This prompted an incredible opportunity to expand our portfolio with The Leading Hotels of the World Alliance, offering even greater access to the luxury travel segment and building our existing ability to connect luxury travellers with the right hotels and experiences.