Rich still desire Luxury Tourism despite credit crunch
Friday 10, December 2010
The report "Luxury Travel: Understanding the Luxury Consumer" identifies seven new trends in luxury travel that are capturing the imaginations of the world’s wealthy elite.
It comes as VisitBritain is preparing a worldwide advertising campaign in the spring to attract more ‘’High Net Worth’’ individuals - rich people with more than $1 million in spare cash - whose numbers worldwide grew by 17.1 % in 2009 to 10 million. For the first time there are as many in Asia as Europe and North America - about three million.
The report identifies a fashion among the rich for dream-like, unreal "fairytale" holidays. Many want fantasy experiences where, for example, guests re-live the lives of residents in a British stately home. Another trend is for frictionless "flow" holidays described as "turning the mute button on life". It shows the wealthy have a growing appetite for luxury holidays planned with the skill of an art curator or choreographer, full of surprises and a compelling story they can talk about to their friends.
The report identifies three tiers of luxury: the "gold" for the wealthy who love bling and showing off, "platinum" for the rich who are less overt while "black" luxury is for those who love understated wealth but revel in utter exclusivity and the feeling of total freedom money brings. VisitBritain is using these insights to create a major new marketing campaign to be launched next spring aimed at boosting Britain’s burgeoning high-end tourism business.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain said: "Britain is already regarded by many of the international jet-set as the original home of luxury, thanks to our centuries-old aristocratic traditions and history of service.
"This report shows that while every country has 5-star hotels, luxurious spas, designer shops and championship golf courses Britain stands out because it has the original world renowned luxury experiences and brands. For example a stay at Claridges shopping in Selfridges or eighteen holes at St Andrews have a cache that can’t be found elsewhere."
1. “Sit Forward and Sit Back Holidays”
On a Sit Forward Holiday, consumers want to maximise their experiences and soak up knowledge and skill to use and gain status.
On a Sit Back Holiday, people want to relax and re-boot. Busy High Net Worth travellers juggle an "always on" lifestyles constantly connected to technology with little opportunity to switch off. They want to escape and be cocooned in a luxurious bubble.
2. Flow - The New Posh Package
This trend is about the perfect holiday carefully tailored to each traveller’s requirements transporting them to a world of seamless pleasure. All friction is removed, they forget their worries. No expense is spared but importantly everything has to be included in the original price – as even high end consumers require value. Consumers describe this experience “as pressing the mute button on real life”.
3. The Art of Curation and Choreography
The world of luxury is shifting from the ostentatious to something more refined. Luxury is not having more, but having the “latest”, the rarest and the best. Luxury travel organisers edit the finest experiences like a top art curator picks pictures or a clever choreography creates a dance to produce unobtrusive service allowing luxury consumers to completely immerse themselves in the experience.
4. Luxury as a Fairy Tale
For many, luxury travel is a childhood dream come true – like seeing an unreal fairy tale or revisiting history. A luxury holiday detaches them from everyday life, cannot be replicated in the real world and should constantly surprise travellers. They must live the dream, though, not merely observe it. “Clients want me to make their dreams come true. Simple!” one Brazil tourism trade executive told us. This is a big opportunity because Britain is often associated, especially in countries such as China and Russia, with myths, legends and fairy tales because of its strong literary history and its rich history. It offers opportunities to show a magical side of Britain which has a powerful sense of playfulness and fantasy. Example: Guests re-live the lives of residents in a British stately home in rural countryside in a very plush, indulgent manner.
Stories are extremely important part of deciding which luxury holiday to take. They must have the potential to take on a life of their own in consumers’ minds and when they tell others about it. Luxury travellers often want their holidays to establish their social status or kudos by giving them the chance to tell the story of how they did something new and unique or use an experience in their daily lives.
In today’s digital world travellers can experience much of their trip on the internet before they have left home. It can mean very little comes as a surprise. That’s why luxury travel must work hard to deliver magic, surprise and serendipity. “Now it’s even less about traditional luxury…It’s more about something unexpected… People call and say, ‘Surprise me!” said a travel agent in Russia. Example: British boutique hotels which often offer a fun, quirky retreat and knowledgeable concierges who are able to inject surprise by suggesting amazing activities.
7. Three tiers of luxury: gold, platinum and black
Gold is “bling-luxury” where people show off their wealth in every way possible. “They’ll choose the more expensive option BECAUSE it’s more expensive” said Chris Bicalho, Brazil tourism expert. Platinum is a less overt, comfortable luxury. The consumers live their lives according to a set of principles and don’t need to flaunt their wealth to establish their worth amongst their peers. Black is understated, minimal but substantial. It is the ultimate in exclusivity, somewhat old fashioned and established. It’s about old money, or at least a feeling of confidence in wealth and a person’s position in society. It is top of the tier and is about being part of the club, in the know or having the freedom to be whatever they want to be.
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