The luxury travel report: Top 7 2021 luxury travel trends and behaviours

The pandemic has changed the face of luxury travel, with the world’s wealthiest demonstrating new behaviours and tastes. Forced to isolate for months on end, many have reevaluated their lives and are now placing more emphasis than ever on enjoying time with friends and families. Exclusive high-end experiences, privacy, and travelling with their dedicated entourage are now increasing trends within the luxury travel sector. 

Here Relevance’s luxury travel consultant, Emilia Jedamska, takes a look at some of the latest 2021 luxury travel trends that have emerged as the global luxury travel market adjusts to a new normal. 

Luxury travel report 2021

Luxury travel trend 1: Revenge Travel 

People are keen to travel more, further, and in style post-pandemic, that’s according to John Speers, the owner of creative travel agency Kemosabe, who attended the Drum Network Deep Dive Roundtable alongside Emilia Jedamska. 

This luxury travel trend 2021 has given rise to the moniker Revenge Travel, describing people who are more eager to travel and less willing to cancel their plans. Revenge travellers are also more likely to travel further, embracing world travel by exploring more exotic or elegant destinations, and spend large sums to ensure their dream getaway. According to AirDNA, a company that focuses on travel data, vacation demand is down by up to 46 percent in large urban areas as people seek more exclusive and private destinations. 

The last summer season in Saint Tropez aptly demonstrates this luxury travel trend. St Tropez House, a Relevance client and luxury real estate agent that focuses on high-end villa rentals for High-Net-Worth and Ultra-High-Net-Worth individuals, reported a 55 percent increase in villa bookings this summer. The growth came from mounting pending bookings from past seasons that had to be deferred, clients spending more per villa, and staying longer.  

Luxury travel trend 2: Bubble travel

Privacy and safety are primary concerns of HNW and UHNW travellers seeking luxury travel post-Covid. In a post-pandemic world, many people are still keen to maintain social distance, and therefore are looking for more private and customised accommodation choices. 

As the data from AirDNA highlights, today’s wealthy travellers wish to enjoy their downtime away from the hustle and bustle of other people, seeking personalised and private travel spaces.

Private villas, islands, and luxury yachts are now favoured over luxury hotels and resorts, along with private transportation, including high-end vehicle rentals, private jets and helicopters. 

Take, for example, the yachting industry, which has recorded a record year for yacht sales and charter, with many brokerages struggling to keep up with demand as wealthy individuals seek the safe and exclusive refuge of a luxury private yacht. Such is the demand for new-build yachts, according to Fraser, a leading yacht brokerage, many of the worlds’ best shipyards are fully booked for the next three to four years, meaning that those wishing to take delivery of a new yacht will need to be patient.  

High-end resorts are adapting their offerings to attract this new breed of travellers in search of destinations that offer space and exclusivity. For example, Aspen Valley Ranch, a luxury US resort, recently opened The Residences at Aspen Valley Ranch, a gated development of six luxury four and five-bedroom rental homes that offer complete privacy yet are coupled with all the comforts of a resort. They even come with a private horse stable and dedicated wrangler.  

“When you’re renting a US$20 million home versus renting even the most luxurious suite at a hotel, your experience is very different,” Simon Chen, Aspen Valley Ranch’s vice president, notes. “The homes allow for pressure-free lounging, couch potato days, and movie nights, with the bonus of endless activities and amenities nearby.”

Luxury travel trend 3: Service, service, service 

Service has always been of paramount importance to luxury travellers. However, in an ever-changing world, where service providers may suddenly be forced to close their doors, the world’s wealthiest are opting to ensure all services are provided in-house and on-demand. 

Since the pandemic, the world’s wealthiest are now demanding more staff than ever before, seeking on-demand access to private chefs, butlers, and personal trainers. Compared to 2019, St Tropez House saw a 15 percent market growth in 2021 for private chefs as this luxury travel trend gained traction. Cap Villas, another premium villa rental company located along the Cote d’Azur and Relevance client, catered to this demand by creating a curated collection of luxury staffed private villas. This allowed affluent travellers to holiday in style and enjoy a host of amenities and high-end service offerings without having to leave the safe confines of their villa. 

Luxury travel trend 4: Vacation from staycation, à la UHNW 

While the common understanding of staycations is staying within the borders of your country, HNW travellers reinterpret it slightly differently: luxury villas destined for short-term stays are being increasingly rented out for the long-term by high-end travellers seeking extended leisure travel. 

For example, a wealthy family that usually lives in London and takes seven international trips a year rents a villa in the South of France and treats it as their second home. They continue to take international trips; however, their new base from which they travel is also a holiday style villa. 

Cap Villas has reported experiencing this luxury travel post-Covid trend daily. These wealthy individuals are predominantly from the U.K., Monaco, Russia, and the Middle East, typically requesting a luxury villa for the entire season or even the whole year. 

Luxury travel trend 5: First come, first served 

With soaring demand for luxury escapes, travellers are now booking far in advance to secure their accommodations of choice. At St Tropez House, two top luxury villas – with a price tag of more than 100,000 euros per week  – are already booked out for 50 percent of the high-season weeks for 2022. However, as the window of opportunity opens thanks to vaccine passports, those who are not quick enough to book will find that window of opportunity quickly shutting again due to pent-up demand. 

“If you know exactly what you want, you’d better jump on it now,” Paul Tumpowsky, founder and chief executive officer of high-tech travel consultancy Skylark, said in a luxury travel report published on Bloomberg

Luxury travel trend 6: Family and experiences 

After months and years of families being separated, there is a substantial increase in multigenerational holidays. This is visible across the entire industry and especially in the luxury travel sector. A multigenerational holiday enables everyone to enjoy a getaway together. 

Additionally, travellers are particularly focused on authentic experiences that enable them to create lasting memories with friends and family. 

According to the 2020 Virtuoso Family Travel Community report, active adventure trips, experiential trips, and beach resort stays top the list for those seeking a multigenerational escape. The report states that destinations such as Italy, England, and France remain popular. However,  younger generations are driving up interest in more remote locales, including Antarctica, Morocco, Kenya, and Croatia, seeking more authentic experiences. These authentic experiences are at the forefront of luxury travellers’ minds, including animal interactions, such as a luxury safari, exploring local culture through food, and active experiences that enable immersion in the local culture. 

In the post-Covid world of luxury travel, wealthy individuals now expect more fun, more celebration, and more experiences from the family holiday. They want to get more out of the time spent together. That means providers need to provide a more customised, made-to-measure experience for travelling groups. 

Luxury travel trend 7: Silent travel, the growth of digital  

Luxury travellers are increasingly silent travellers in the sense that their entire escape is booked digitally. 

Our client St Tropez House has reported that their telephone lines are becoming increasingly quiet as wealthy travellers book their holidays online, everything from arranging private helicopters to reservations at their favourite Michelin-starred restaurant. 

All of this has been made possible by luxury travel providers offering a seamless digital journey across multiple touch-points, including mobile-optimised websites, well structured and thoughtfully designed content, informative social media posts, as well as on-demand communication through tools such as 24/7 live chats and WhatsApp messaging. According to an article posted by Stratos Jet Charters, more than 80 percent of travel bookings globally are done online and an estimated 700 million people will make a booking online by 2023, highlighting the importance of having a  sophisticated online presence. 

This 2021 luxury travel trend has been accelerated due to the pandemic with an increasing number of HNW and UHNW travellers now choosing to book their entire getaway online. Many HNW and UHNW travellers prefer the convenience of digital assistance with a guarantee of immediate real person assistance if required.

As our luxury travel report highlights, there can be no question that the way in which HNW and UHNW individuals are travelling is changing. Luxury travel brands and providers who can cater to increasing demand for exclusive escapes that are private yet still offer all the amenities of a luxury hotel, coupled with the ability to offer a seamless digital experience, are likely to capture the attention of affluent travellers. 

Relevance has been helping luxury and private travel companies reach this highly affluent segment through effective and hyper-targeted digital marketing campaigns. If you are a luxury travel provider and need a custom online strategy, contact our team today. 

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