The twenty-first century wealthy are looking for new and unique experiences. Luxury travelers want to learn and understand the culture and history of the places they visit. They want to experience it like a local, or more aptly, a very wealthy local.
The tour and activity industry is a multi-billion dollar market:
- In Europe, tours and activities account for around US$40 billion (WIT, 2016)
- The tour and activity sector generated 37,000 million euro in Europe in 2016, tripling the total market size of car rental (10,000, million euro) and reaching almost half the total market for hotel reservations (80,000 million euro) (Phocuswright, 2016)
- In the US alone are approximately 67,000 businesses valued at US$20 billion in the tour and activity space. This makes it the third largest segment of the travel industry after air and accommodation (WIT, 2016)
- Travellers are likely to spend more on sightseeing than on shopping, souvenirs and nightlife combined (TripBarometer, 2016)
According to Milton Pedraza from the Luxury Institute, “there is only so much caviar and champagne you can throw at them”.
It’s no longer about living in the most expensive hotels or eating off gold (or actually eating it); it’s now about providing clients with an experience they’ll never forget that no one else has Instagrammed.
Here are some ways you could provide a luxurious travel experience to those who want it.
Make it authentic
Modern tourists are looking for an authentic experience of the town, village or city they’re visiting. Although there will always be “must see” tourist spots to go to, you could also provide authentic and local experiences to your guests. For instance, offer trips to events that locals would frequent, like a salsa evening, a pop-up market or a jazz concert at a local bar.
For guests who love to shop, why not guide them around cozy alleyways where they’ll find the trendiest boutiques by up-and-coming designers? You could also look into partnering with other local businesses to provide the best experience for your guests.
Make it unique
As a tour company, you already have an existing inventory of tours and trips to offer guests. Why not give guests the option of arranging a unique experience by mixing and matching different excursions, day trips, cruises and activities to suit their personal preferences and interests?
You could even push the envelope further by providing guests with a personal travel planner and allowing them the flexibility of choosing their own arrival and departure times.
2017 is a year for adventure and new experiences:
- 69% of global travellers – of all age groups – are planning to try something new in 2017 (TripBarometer, 2016)
- 17% will try solo travel for the first time in 2017, and 15% will try adventure travel for the first time (TripBarometer, 2016)
- Tourists in 2017 are looking for opportunities to explore lesser-known destinations, especially those that are untouched or unique (Virtuoso, 2016)
- 1 in 5 global travellers have visited a destination because they saw it on a TV show (TripBarometer, 2016)
- Just 31% of travellers book a trip based on their own past experiences (Skift Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016)
Instead of outsourcing each excursion or day trip to different local operators, a truly luxurious travel company is able to provide an all-inclusive and seamless holiday.
Although having a full team at each destination might be difficult for companies looking to break into the luxury travel sector, something as simple as having the same well-trained guide to accompany guests on excursions throughout a trip can make the whole experience much more intimate.
Having a familiar face can create a more personal relationship, providing a personal touch that twenty-first century consumers seem to crave.
Make it memorable
As mentioned earlier, there will always be “must see” places for guests to visit at every destination. Why not go the extra mile to make it more memorable?
For example, luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent arranged a private tour for guests in Egypt to visit Queen Nefertari’s tomb despite being inaccessible by the public for decades. In Russia, they have arranged for guests to go on a private tour of the Kremlin and meet an ex-KGB agent who worked as a spy in London during the cold war.
A private opening to a tomb or a meeting with an ex-spy might not always be feasible, but what about a cooking class on a boat in the fjords of Norway? Or a relaxing afternoon cycling through the French countryside to a vineyard where a wholesome French meal awaits? The options are endless.
- 1 in 3 travellers (33%) are planning to spend more on travel in 2017 than they did the previous year, and not just because of rising costs (TripBarometer, 2016)
- The 5 most common things travellers are willing to spend more on as a treat: Sightseeing (53%), special dining experiences (41%), accommodation (41%), activities (35%) and shopping (24%) (TripBarometer, 2016)
- Among those who plan to increase their travel budget in 2017, 49% said they will do so because “because I or my family deserve it”, while 31% said they would spend more on travel because “it’s important for my health and well-being” (TripBarometer, 2016).
- Like last year, “Sand & Sea” is the most appealing vacation type; “Mountains & Nature” is #2 this year (tied #2 with “Big City/Museums” last year) (Adobe, 2017)
Make it safe
Being wealthy comes with strings attached and it’s no surprise that guests expect a certain level of safety and security when they trot around the globe.
Up-market travel companies often own “destination management companies” in Africa and Asia who can quickly respond to problems and emergencies. Another variation of this includes having a guide who is a phone call away 24/7 to provide guests with a peace of mind.