Industry Update
Opinion Article22 March 2018

10 Luxury Travel Trends To Watch

By Lorraine Abelow, Owner of Abelow PR

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Luxury travel is one of the most lucrative segments for travel operators and hotels, but success depends on offering highly personalized experiences. A travel public relations company that specializes in hospitality PR monitors the emerging trends worldwide to best position its travel and hospitality clients for success.

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These trends shift quickly in today's digital environment, so it is vital to stay abreast of them. Subscribing to Google alerts is a good start, and reading outlets like Skift will also provide insight.

Highlights To Follow

1. What Is The Most significant Trend For 2018?

Experiential and authentic travel are the buzzwords for this year. Not just going to the same hotel or destination, travelers are looking for new destinations. Even in the private jet sector, people aren't repeating the same routes. Customers are actively seeking out new and different places all the time and a top hospitality public relations agency can get you exposure to appeal to their new instincts. The growing affluent market is looking to expand their horizons.

2. Which Destinations Should You Monitor?

Traditionally, it's those inveterate travelers following The Rough Guide that pioneered destinations, and luxury followed. That continues to be the case with many destinations such as Costa Rica, but there are new places where luxury is coming in first and fast like Nicaragua. The same applies to Vietnam and Bali. Each has a number of world-class resorts that have opened up recently. Nicaragua recently opened a new private jet airport catering to this segment of the market. It's like Costa Rica was several years ago.

3. What Is Changing In Family Travel?

Adventures - luxury style tops almost every family's bucket list nowadays. They are heli-skiing in Iceland and paddle boarding in Galapagos. Of course, jungle ruins are still a draw as they imagine a life thousands of years ago. Bragging rights for the parents and their offspring about where they have been and what they've done is part of the scene. The popularity of these activities can be seized upon by hospitality PR pros.

4. What Is The Biggest Myth About The Affluent Traveler?

Price still drives decision making for the luxury traveler - everyone likes a good deal. Type-A personalities and entrepreneurs avoid anything that smacks of price gauging, they just don't want to be taken advantage of. Offer high value - that is what the traveling public is seeking today.

5. Curating For Your Guest

It is all about customizing and personalizing the client's experience. You have to reassure customers with confidence that what you have planned for them has never been done before - or few, anyhow. And if you tell them to be on the dock for a dive at 8 a.m., they will be there, so you better be ready. You should know from experience why it is better for someone to stay at the Four Seasons or a smaller boutique hotel down the road. Or maybe they skip the Louvre and head over to the captivating Rodin Museum instead. agents need to have a broad range and depth of knowledge to fulfill all these needs. And in hospitality PR, agencies know how to spin these experiences to position your property.

6. How Can You Attract Affluent Chinese Traveler?

These are curious and tenacious travelers, with a surprising amount of disposable income. The first point to really leap out from the conversation was how important it is for hotels to lay on the little extras that really make Chinese guests feel at home. These include a Chinese breakfast, Chinese newspapers and TV channels in the rooms, adaptors for Chinese electrical appliances, and an in-room guide in Mandarin telling the guest how to use all the facilities. At least one Mandarin speaker on the concierge desk is also vital if you are serious about this market, both to make the guests feel comfortable, and to sell extras such as rounds of golf and tourist excursions.

7. Luxuriants No Longer Want Souvenirs

The elite traveler now thirsts for access over acquisition, and experiences over owning stuff. This is "good news for travel, bad news for handbags," Chris Sanderson, co-founder of the Future Laboratory, a trend-forecasting agency, said at a Ritz-Carlton hotels breakfast. Owning specific, expensive products like the Hermès Kelly bag doesn't mean as much anymore. Travel experiences—and posting about them—matter more.

8. The Next Travel Buzzword: Simplicity

Words like "curated," "artisanal," and "authentic" fill press releases, but at ILTM, the bonniest bon mot was "simplicity." True luxury is slowing down—that moment of decompression when you see a phenomenal view—and feeling completely unburdened. This trend is illustrated by the success of such magazines as Dwell and others, which focus on pairing down to the essentials.

9. Small Has Never Been Better

Small Luxury Hotels of the World coined this phrase, perhaps fighting back at large chain hotels and resorts. The average size across the brand is 48 rooms. InterContinental Hotels opened a hotel in Venice in 2018 with just 55 rooms, unusual for a larger luxury chain. Guests staying in small hotels tend to want ultra-immersive experiences. "Clients are asking us to create experiences for them that will help them grow as people and as a family," Ezon says of the trend. "A beach resort is no longer just about pampering yourself; it's about connecting."

10 Family Owned Properties

Family-owned properties, capitalizing on the travelers' desire to make deep, local connections, will become an even bigger draw in the upcoming year. In Alaska, Winterlake and Tutka Bay Lodges (both are National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World) are owned and operated by renowned chef Kirsten Dixon, her outdoorsman husband Carl, and their grown children. In Sorrento, Italy, the beloved Grand Excelsior Vittoria, surrounded by lush gardens and Bay of Naples views, has been run by the Fiorentino family since 1834. The Beau-Rivage in Geneva is adding 17 show-stopping top-floor suites to its historic building this spring, and is still run by the Mayer family as it has for the past five generations.

So to please this discerning customer, get out not just the hotels, but also the experiences so you can speak to them knowledgably about what they will be doing and what to expect. You have to be able to insure your customers will be able to do things in a way that's different from everyone else.

When hospitality PR is functioning well, you can push out messages about what your hotel is doing to tap into these topical trends. Keep them in mind when pitch stories about your property.

Lorraine Abelow

Lorraine Abelow has a 30-year, award-winning, boutique, hospitality PR firm in New York City. Constantly innovating, she is at the forefront of trends affecting traditional luxury PR and social media influencer marketing. Her roster includes blue-chip names such as Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels, as well as boutique properties across the globe.

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