As an expert in the behaviour of the ultra-high-net-worth, Relevance is continuously analysing the upcoming trends in every area of the luxury industry. The current COVID-19 crisis has temporarily put many parts of the world on lockdown, meaning travel is strictly advised against at this time. However, we will get through this, and with a passion to explore the world like never before.
In part one of this series, we delved into five of the top trends for the future of luxury travel, including security biometrics, conscious travelling, mystery adventures, space tourism and island exploration. In part two, we continue our journey through the luxury travel trends of 2020 and beyond. Prepare to get to know your audience a whole lot better.
Discover the luxury travel trends of the next decade
We’ve been heading in this direction for a while, but experts believe this will be the decade that cash essentially becomes extinct – especially amongst the world’s wealthiest. This extends to when we travel, with many instead utilising mobile banking, smart devices and cryptocurrencies to make purchases abroad.
Ultimately, your business should be prepared to accept money in whichever way the consumer wants to pay. Globetrender Magazine reports in its 2020 Travel Trend Forecast that the Savoy in London led the way with this, being the first UK luxury hotel to integrate Chinese mobile payment app Alipay, which had 500m global users in 2018, throughout the entire hotel. Being particularly popular in China, the hotel group knew that it had to make this development to better serve its Chinese guests, making the payment process as seamless as possible with its introduction in May 2018. The Mandarin Oriental was just one of many luxury hotel groups to quickly follow suit.
The Savoy was far from the only UHNW-serving establishment to pick up on this payment trend, with the Monaco Government signing a deal in 2017 to bring Alipay to more of its luxury hotels, casinos and spas. Some of the Principality’s most exclusive destinations already offered this service before this, recognising the overwhelming number of UHNW Chinese tourists looking to invest in Monaco.
Meanwhile, the 5-Star Dolder Grand Hotel was the first luxury hotel in Switzerland to accept payments in Bitcoin. The Skift, a trend-defining business working across the travel and wellness sectors, reports that there could be risks associated with crypto-currency payments considering the significant fluctuations of these nonphysical currencies. Service providers may not have a clear picture of how much money they will actually gain in exchange for their service. However, these risks could be minimised by converting the payment into a traditional currency before completion of the transaction to the recipient company, a practice adopted by the Dolder. With a growing number of crypto-millionaires in the world, it’s no surprise that this luxury travel trend will see businesses doing everything they can to better serve them in the future.
Airports and airlines are also becoming progressively more cash-free, despite cash still being the dominant payment method according to the World Payments Report 2019. Business Wire reports that non-cash transactions are booming, with an increasing number of airlines no longer accepting cash payments. In 2019, American Airlines stopped accepting cash at 10 airports in Mexico, noticing that the number of clients who wished to pay this way was rapidly declining.
Time is money, especially for the UHNWIs. So if you could travel somewhere quicker, reducing the wasted time spent in the air and maximising the time spent seeing the world, why wouldn’t you? The Travel 2020 report by LuxuryEscapes.com states that the next decade is all about ultra-fast travel, utilising technology that brands began beta testing at the end of the last decade.
Globetrender Magazine notes that currently, the world’s fastest train is the Shanghai Maglev, which travels at 268mph using “magnetic levitation”. However, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is set to far exceed this, speeding through low-pressure tubes at 670mph by 2021. This would mean that travelling between LA and Las Vegas on land suddenly becomes a possibility in 30 minutes; two times faster than the normal flight time. It is hoped that this will open in the UAE in 2021.
In the aerospace field, US start-up Boom Supersonic is developing a Mach 2.2 aircraft called Overture that will be able to fly 5,180 miles in one stretch, meaning you could travel from London to Vancouver in only four hours, a journey that currently takes over nine hours. Japan Airlines is hoping to be the first to launch a route with the aircraft in 2025. Meanwhile, a new Boston-based firm called Spike Aerospace is investing in so-called ‘low-boom’ technology, building a new jet – the S-512 business jet – which will fly at twice the speed of other jets without creating a recognisable loud sonic boom. This luxury travel trend will see the world’s wealthiest navigating the world at previously incomprehensible speeds!
It’s all very well for separate luxury providers to offer a 5-Star service, but if each one doesn’t align then the overall consumer experience can still be affected. Think about how a delay can significantly impact a journey, with a late arrival having a knock-on effect for any booked chauffeurs, to check-in time at a hotel, and on any meetings, appointments, or dinner reservations. According to the Shaping The Future Of Luxury Travel report by Amadeus, a global travel technology company, the next decade is where we will see these different sections sync up, achieving an end-to-end fantastic experience where the client feels completely taken care of throughout.
There are ongoing debates about how this will be solved. Multitudes of different businesses from varying sectors will all need to cooperate with this in order for it to work, and it will likely require some kind of overarching technology that can transmit passenger data between different parties. This would allow for real-time updates to be shared, and any travel delays recovered in style.
However, there is also an argument for the introduction of an elite travel regulator, which would arrange and drive collaboration, pushing for end-to-end technical developments to better serve the future of luxury travel. In the meantime, there are certain apps, such as Tripscope, that luxury travel agents can use to check-in on their clients’ progress and adapt their itineraries as needed.
Luxury travel trends have favoured experience-based escapes for a long time, but until now these have focused on making memories and finding stories to tell. According to Globetrender Magazine, this decade instead ushers in the upskilling escapes, seeing people on a quest for self-improvement where they can return home excited by their new knowledge and ready to put it to the test.
Boutique hotel Salt of Palmar in Mauritius has created “Skill Swap”, where guests visit local artisans while they’re at work to learn pottery and basket weaving, for example. In return, they must share knowledge of their own. At the Como Uma hotel in Bhutan, guests can now learn Bhutan’s national sport, archery, in a cultural immersion session designed to teach guests more about the place they are staying while developing their sports ability.
Plan South America, a luxury travel agent for curated South American escapes, create courses to fulfil every quest for self-betterment, from Asado (BBQ) cooking classes to specialised art tours, where guests meet with curators to find out how they put together incredible exhibitions.
Meanwhile, traditional experiential trips will still be a part of the future of luxury travel, with companies like Black Tomato providing luxury consumers with a personalised, unforgettable experience that is never repeated twice. The experience can also be accompanied by aerial drone recordings of the whole journey, giving it that extra-personal edge.
Intuitive personal service
Luxury has always been about providing the best service, going above and beyond what the client expects. This is nothing new. But now, the Amadeus report states that brands are realising that different customers prefer different styles and approaches to service. More introverted people may not enjoy having all the attention on them, for example, while the more extroverted would appreciate chatting to different members of the team. Extremely busy UHNWIs may not enjoy highly interactive service, while those who enjoy the pampered lifestyle would expect 24/7 attentiveness at a minimum. It’s important that brands know this and are aware of the different personality types we have in the world, in order to better interact with each one of their customers.
Another aspect to this luxury travel trend is anticipating at which points within the travelling experience clients value their independence more and want to be left alone, and when they may desire more attention, as noted in the report by LuxuryEscapes.com. The future of elite travel depends on finding the sweet spot for each client on each part of the journey.
As luxury clientele seek a more personalised experience, we have also seen the concierge service market boom – something that the Deloitte Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook 2019 attributes to Millenial demand. In fact, according to Grand View Research, the concierge industry is predicted to reach US$773.3 million by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) equal to 5.3%. These concierges now possess a wider range of specialist skills, such as organising helicopter rides to private islands or helping to plan the perfect proposal, allowing them to better tailor their offering to each client.
UHNW travel has never looked more exciting, as we have seen from part two of the future luxury travel trends. Want to understand more about the latest and rising trends of your segment of the luxury industry, from supercars to real estate? Get in touch with our team today to get our scientific insight on high-net-worth behaviours.