Travel trends and predictions for 2014
Read my contribution to TTG Luxury MENA Winter 2013 about the top trends in luxury travel for 2014. Below are my predictions in full for 2014. What an exciting year it is set to be!
1. Bespoke travel
Reports from our clients and from the market intelligence available suggest that luxury travel will continue to thrive and attract high-net-worth individuals in search of bespoke experiences. In 2014 expect to see an increase in hotel groups and tour operators catering to ultra-luxury travellers with personalised itineraries, private guides bespoke tours and concierge services.
2. Global, sociable citizens
The challenge for the luxury travel industry will be to evolve to meet the needs of the ultra-luxury traveller.These travellers are discerning, sophisticated, adventurous and connected. They are ‘global citizens’ yet very local in their outlook. They travel across the region as well as internationally. They value quality time spent with family and friends, yet welcome new experiences and encounters – and they like to share via social media. The luxury industry will need to maintain a balance between offering private experiences, yet at the same time catering to travellers who wish to remain connected via social media. The luxury travel industry is very much recovering from the financial crisis, and it is the socially intelligent brands that will thrive and capture the premium traveller. 2013 was an interesting year. We saw a polarisation in terms of social media. For example the ‘digital detox’ was very much in fashion with resorts offering complete escape from technology alongside lifecoaches to guide consumers through separation anxiety from their devices (as pioneered by St Vincent & The Grenadines in the Caribbean), yet we also saw continued growth in terms of social networking. Travel experiences account for up to 20per cent of social media activity – expect to see this grow in 2014.
For 2014, the top trends will include a rise in the ‘Invisible traveller’ a phenomenon identified by InterContinental Hotels Group in their future trends report “The new kinship economy: from travel experiences to travel relationships” whereby guests travel without touching the sides, and may never interact with hotel staff. From planning to booking, check-in at the airport to check-in at the hotel, room service and even concierge services, some travellers are already opting for an entirely independent, human-free travel experience.
At the same time, expect to see a growth in the celebration of ‘Simple luxury’ where hotels and resorts tap into these passions of guests and making it easy for them to access and pursue the activities they enjoy the most via private tours and bespoke experiences where the simple pleasures in life – from visiting a local market to search for fresh produce which are then created al-fresco by the hotel chef, to providing a behind the scenes view of a cultural exhibition, or a stroll on a secluded beach.