Tourists and Samburu dancers

The evolution of the luxury travel consumer

If once the luxury traveler pointed a bellboy towards their matching LV luggage and tripped to the beach of an identikit resort to sip Champagne, all the while glued to their Blackberry – now you will find them strapping an unbranded calfskin hold-all to a safari jeep, switching off the Vertu and heading out into Serengeti.

It’s not new luxury – it’s simply the current incarnation. The Future Laboratory at ILTM in December opened with statement that experience and engagement are now the top ranking luxury travel incentives.

People want to engage with destinations (not just observe them or feel removed from a sense of place within a hotel) and to experience places in a memorable and fresh way. As a result, there’s less focus is on material goods (“gold taps”) and more focus on an enhanced state of being.

As with the fashion industry, there’s also a growing demand for craftsmanship and sustainability. We have realized that simplicity can be luxurious too — it’s no longer about the sort of excess and flash now synonymous with emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India and China.

If luxury consumers are seeking more authentic travel experiences, tour operators and hotels have the chance to reach out to their communities and bridge the gap.

The days of flying into Mauritius and remaining behind the high walls of a resort are over. We want culture, connection, interaction. We want to engage, rather than observe. Learn as opposed to teaching. Explore instead of ignore.

Luxury travel companies are now faced with an exciting challenge – to engage the luxury traveller with their destination in an authentic and sustainable way. Some of our clients are already doing this, and we look forward to seeing the results.

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