The tourism industry, like many others, has felt the massive impact of a changing cultural landscape and the adoption of a more digital world. Travelers rely more and more on online resources to find destination ideas and to book their travel. And, travelers document their adventures with their mobile devices and share their experiences with the world via social media.
To remain relevant, travel providers and marketers should pay keen attention to recent behavioral shifts in a key segment of this audience, the luxury traveler. We’ve collected four emerging travel trends that we think will impact luxury travel marketing in 2017.
Dinner as a destination.
Culturally, the way we approach dinner, and specifically eating dinner out, is changing. Dinning out has become the day’s main event both when we travel and are at home. This has lead many restaurants to evolve into destinations in their own right.
The criteria for selecting and enjoying a restaurant has shifted from star ratings to the unique atmosphere, drinks, dishes and experiences that a venue can offer. Mobile apps play a large part in this change; many offer travelers personalized recommendations based on price, cuisine, formality and location. Some applications even allow users to select dining establishments based on the average noise level inside.
Social media also plays a central role in this trend. Everything about the visitor’s experience at an establishment is picture-worthy, and well-known hangouts encourage users to check in to let their followers know they were there. Even the main dishes served at restaurants are specifically staged to be photographed and ready to share, because if you didn’t Instagram it, did it really happen?
The top Instagram posts for #shakeshack.
According to Skift’s 2017 Mega Trends report, the new standards of modern luxury are consumer-led rather than brand-driven. Luxury is not just about price point. The experience is the thing, especially with younger travelers who see choice as the ultimate luxury.
Modern luxury is centered on delivering experiences that delight and supplying travelers with share-worthy stories. The term luxury can quickly lose its value, especially when it’s applied to so many aspects of the travel industry. 2017 may be the year that small brands bring luxury back into focus. This could be the year that luxury travel roots itself in emotions and experiences instead of marble bathrooms and leather carry-on bags.
Access over acquisition.
Travelers are no longer seeking souvenirs or expensive goods to bring back from their trips. The items they want to show off to their friends are the stories they gathered while traveling. We are all storytellers, and with the rise of social media and digital outlets like blogs and online photo journals, telling our stories to the world has become a key component of travel.
Luxury travelers want to own the experience. Expensive handbags no longer carry the same weight as a series of social media posts that adventurers can share about a recent trip. Their Instagram posts, Facebook shares and tweets seek to inspire envy, cause FOMO (the fear of missing out) and acquire as many likes as possible to validate the exquisite view or unique experience they are sharing.
Travel agents offer simplicity.
In National Geographic’s 2017 Luxury Travel Trends report, Annie Fitzsimmons predicts that simplicity will soon replace other buzzwords in travel marketing. The travel industry is overwhelmed with aggregator sites, traveler blogs, review websites, reservation applications and booking engines. It can be a big challenge and a notable amount of work to sift through the vast amount of information to find what a potential traveler needs.
This complexity has created the perfect opportunity for travel agents to re-enter the travel planning and luxury travel space. Luxury travel agents can offer their services as a travel matchmaker. Finding the destinations, activities and accommodations that are not just “the best,” but truly the best match for that individual traveler. This attention to detail and stress-free travel planning and management will be considered a real luxury, as it saves travelers from spending hours browsing travel sites and reviews to determine the best destination and accommodations.