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Thesis is devoted to the problem of new developments of luxury tourism in the international market. Luxury travel as an unique product is specified. Key factorswhichwill affect the luxury travel industry over the next few yearsare determined. Top luxury travel trends in 2008-2013 are identified.
Keywords: luxury travel, travel industry, trend, factors, international market
Despite the worldwide recession, there is one area of the tourism market that is rapidly expanding, that is the luxury market.Over recent years, luxury travel has been aligning more closely with traditional luxury, like fashion and jewellery, and following the same trends, although luxury travel is not commonly categorised within the luxury industry.
Luxury is a much overused term.Luxury is not the mass market; it’sa combination of privacy and uniqueness. Plato saw craving luxury as a sign of weakness, and Roman philosophers saw greed for luxuries as detrimental to the moral fabric of society. It was only when the higher echelons of society began showing off their wealth and standing by displaying their unattainable extravagances that peoplebegan to see luxuryas something to be coveted.Howeverluxury can mean different things to different people.One traveller’s luxury is another’s ordinary. The main guiding principles of the luxury sectorare:
1. Uniqueness of product is the result of a combination of such luxury components: creativity that assures a certain style; quality in ?ne material/fabrics; selectivity in the distribution network and strategy; prestigious location of sales outlets; limited production in terms of volume; an established tradition of knowledge, skill, expertise.
2. Brand imagerymeans that the image re?ected by the brand and the product is present in: brand attributes that guarantee customers access to the upper social circles (geographic origin, designer name, famous patrons, etc.), communication of the brand is exclusive and addresses aspirations of a particular group of consumers.
3. High price levels, justi?ed by the actual quality of product.
There has been a dramatic change in how we define the concept of luxury travel over the past few years, largely due to the current economic climate. The current climate has deepened the definition, making it much more multi-layered than it once was. It has pushed consumers away from conspicuous consumption towards more authentic, simple and genuine experiences that incorporate elements of environmental awareness and social responsibility. Sure, the traditional perception will always hold true for travellers, but more and more travellers are valuing the personal element experienced on their travels. This begins from the preparation stages, the service they receive, the people they meet and the memories they return with. Thus,luxury travel is determined by a range of products, from offering the unusual in the way of scenery and cuisines to breathing-taking decors, to an integrated travel experience that combines everything from gourmet foods to spa experiences.Luxury travel is about having time to enjoy the landscape; an opportunity to luxuriate in culture, to stretch outandobserve the place ofvisiting. Luxury travel is something away from the norm, something original.Labeled or expensive goods that may previously have been defined as luxury can ironically now come across as in bad taste. Similarly, once aspirational and exclusive items that become accessible to everyone lose their luxury moniker.
The luxury travel sector is characterized by impeccable quality, which involves:
– Prime location: luxury hotels and shops are clustered in the same neighbourhoods of large urban areas as well as in resort areas;
– High level of comfort: an emphasis on space and a high quality of materials in the furniture;
– Re?ned settings: artistic design, creative and elegant d?cor;
– Guaranteed safety, security and privacy.
The mode of travel and type of accommodation used can vary from a 5-star hotel or a boutique property to a unique building or an eco-style lodge but the common theme is that the experience is a special one. True luxury is a great travel experience, enjoyed in relative comfort.
Like traditional luxury, some luxury travel companies have built up strong brand awareness and are clearly associated with luxury, e.g. Ritz, Raf?es, Peninsula, Waldorf-Astoria and The Savoy.
Regardless of the volatile economy, luxury demand has continued to grow and diversify, with the ultra-richrepresenting an exclusive clientele for luxury tourism. 2011 was the year of luxury’s rebound. Almost allregions saw at least 6%year-over-year growth in the luxury travel sector – a key indicator of luxury in general. This surge isprojected to continue; industry experts project 10% growth inluxury overall in 2013.In fact, the luxury travel market is the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry worldwide. For example, in North America luxury travel produces almost a trillion dollars in annual sales.Affluent travellers include special-interest tourists, e.g., honeymooners, golfers, art enthusiasts and culinary vacationers, plus travellers in search of a lifetime experience. Luxury travelers understand that time is money and are willing to pay extra in order to save time;they are often health-conscious travelersseekinga full range of travel experiences from the active to the passive.
As travelers begin to demand more personalized, exciting and educational experiences from their vacations, luxury travel companies are expanding the services they offer. Thus, nowdays luxury travel market is characterized by such features:
- more privacy / less ostentation;
- more discreet style of luxury;
- highly desirable private islands.
There’s no denying that comfort factors still apply and high standards of accommodation and dining will always feature on the luxury traveller’s wish list. However, today’s luxury traveller seeks more depth of understanding and immersion into local culture than ever before. People don’t just want to see – they want to participate. The sales process is also critical and whilst the online proposition can be an asset in terms of booking more simple arrangements, clients looking for luxury experiential travel require a deep level of sophisticated knowledge and confidence during the sales process.
In Europe, the main luxury outbound markets remain the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Holland. Asia/Pacific region is the most growing destination.Top favourites are China, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar.
Russia represents the fastest growing market for outbound travel, and Russian tourists demonstrate a preference for leading brands, opulent hotels, and exclusive restaurants. Russians have contributed to the emergence of a luxury segment in new destinations like Montenegro, and have revitalised traditional destinations like the French Riviera and Courchevel[4, p. 12].
The luxury travel sector will be affected by five key factorsover the next few years(table 1).
Key factorswhichwill affect the luxury travel industry
Emerging destinations will gain in importance
The increasing demand for authenticity, new experiences and exclusivity will boost interest in places reflecting the culture and traditions of local communities
The need for personalisation will continue to impact the luxury travel industry
This trend is amplified by the use of ever-advancingtechnology, and especially by the phenomenal growthof social media
Simplicity and seamless service rank highly among the main expectations of travellers
With time the most precious commodity, allelements of the service chain must work seamlessly, from the planning process to returning home, including transportation, accommodation, ground services and tours
The luxury travel industry will continue to recover from the financial crisis
Demand is expected to grow. Like all sectors of the travel industry, luxury travel is always vulnerable to swings caused by political instability and fear of terrorism. Additionally, travel decisions can be swayed when visa and immigration issues are complex
Awareness of value will continue to impact travel decisions
The Internet and social media will remain a major influence on planning and booking
Source: compiled by author.
At the same time luxury travel trends over past decades demonstrate some changes in demand. In 2008 luxury tourism was characterized by relationships with family and friendsbut mature affluents seekedproducts that express personal interests, while in 2010 there were “bleisure”tripspopular – mixing business with pleasure. In 2013 industry experts think affluent holidaymakers now still place more emphasis on service, personalisation, and authentic and enriching travel experiences than the mere physical trappings of luxury.The key thing they want today is personal service(table 2).
Top luxury travel trends in 2008-2013
Top Luxury Travel Trends for 2008
Top Luxury Travel Trends for 2010
Top Luxury Travel Trends for 2013
Traditional demographics won’t define luxury consumers:mature affluents seekedproducts that express personal interests and style while requiring connoisseurship. They prizeduniqueness and limited-edition luxe: originals, one-of-a-kind objects, which wereexpensive and highly collectible.
Upmarket all-inclusives:money was still a major issue for people — even at the luxury end — so they’re looking for value more than ever: upscale packages were desirable as there were notany hidden costs or room service extras above and beyond what they’vealready shelled out
Gourmet Holidays: tours based around food experiences and fine dining are becoming more and more popular. Specialist tours now exist to show travelers the culinary experiences that can be had in the country that they are visiting. These tours cover everything from Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo to street food in Thailand.
Luxury travel companies provide tour guides with local knowledge in order to help tourists avoid tourist traps and facilitate desire to seek out the hidden food gems. These food tours sometimes also offer local-style cooking classes.
Relationships with family and friends take center stage: a significant rise in luxury travel among families. Family travel wasgrowing at a faster rate than all other sectors of leisure travel:82% wanted high-end hotels with kids programs and 56% were traveling with nannies.
Mixing business with pleasure: “bleisure”trips were on the rise — people who travelled a lot and wantedevery corporate need but feltanything but businessy. Alternatively, they likedto tack on time-off onto business jaunts and broughttheir spouse along for the ride.
Off The Beaten Track: many tours available today focus on taking touristsfar off the beaten path and away from the usual resorts. These tours offer the best of both worlds — the chance to explore a location touristswould not normally experience combined with the local knowledge and personal safety protection that can be missing from solo travel.
Latin adventures: this part of the world was seeing huge growth as a luxury travel destination, for example Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize, the Haciendas luxury hotel in the Yucatan as well asother outposts in San Jose, Uayamon, Santa Rosa and Temozon (Mexico).
Learning New Skills: luxury travel companies have begun providing opportunities to learn from the experts while enjoying a trip to a wide variety of destinations.
Source: compiled by author using [5; 6; 7]
Luxury travel and tourism however is not restricted merely to the travel component of the tourism industry.Many hotels have now opened a “hotel within their hotel”. These are special areas that afford extra comfort and service to hotel guests. In a like manner, upscale restaurants are offering a greater and more personal fare that take into account not only caloric intake, but a host of diets that cater to every form of dietary need.
Luxury travel now is more about the hidden extras; the privilege of gaining access to areas unavailable to the general public, exploring with expert guides, and gaining personal insights from local and unique perspectives.Luxury travel is now often multi-generational, with clients seeking both personal and family experiences on the same trip.