Luxury travelers are spending more, prioritizing experience and sustainability

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05:00:08 - September 27, 2022

Despite huge impacts of the pandemic after 2 years, luxury travel still can emerge. Luxury tourists prioritize experience over price, are willing to pay more and care more about sustainability, as Virtuoso and GlobalData said in their latest reports.

Virtuoso, the global network of travel agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel, conducted a survey and showed that luxury travel is booming. Specifically, high-net-worth individuals are planning to spend more and travel more in the coming years.

Another report from data analytics and consulting company GlobalData also revealed that holiday budgets of many travelers are increasing after Covid. Emerging trends include private aviation services, private buyouts of large villas or boutique hotels, and remote working (or workations).

Experience is top priority

Luxury travel is associated with unique or exclusive experiences, as well as personalized services at a high cost. Earlier this year, 85 percent of high-net-worth travelers surveyed by Virtuoso said they were ready to travel, and 86 percent planned to take an international trip.

In Virtuoso’s report, the majority of wealthy travelers are planning to spend more on travel in 2023 than in 2019. Even during the pandemic, they were the ones traveling when everyone else was grounded. Data from the Virtuoso showed travel sales for 2023 pacing 47 percent higher than 2019.

The survey of Virtuoso luxury travelers revealed that 74 percent agree that getting a travel experience that best fits their expectations is more important than price. For example, the average spend increases by 34 percent, from 20,700 USD per person in 2021 to 27,800 USD per person in 2023.

GlobalData’s latest report, titled “Luxury Travel Market Trend and Analysis of Traveler Types, Key Destinations, Challenges and Opportunities, 2022 Update”, said that luxury travelers are seeking experiences that are more immersive and exceptional than in previous years.

Luxury tourism associated with sustainability

According to Virtuoso, “purpose-driven travel remains paramount. Environmentally-friendly philosophies and practices and the preservation of natural and cultural heritage are top-of-mind concerns, especially among Gen Z and Millennials, and many are willing to pay more.”

In Virtuoso’s sustainability survey in May 2022 of around 300 people, more than 80% of respondents said the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly. Virtuoso said that number remains consistent with last year’s survey, proving that sustainability continues to be a top priority for luxury travelers.

Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents this year said they were willing to pay more to travel responsibly, so long as they know how the additional money is being used. About the top trips or destinations they prefer, land-based cultural tours topped the list, followed by river cruising, heritage sites, African safaris and ocean cruising, and island destinations.

Survey takers were also asked for the ways they support sustainable travel. They are reducing food and plastic waste with measures like bringing a water bottle and carrying reusable bags; supporting wildlife conservation; travel during the off-season or to lesser-known destinations; contributing to causes that help the destination and its community; and supporting travel companies with sustainability policies.

Virtuoso added that in addition to luxury travel, wellness-focused trips also see a year-on-year increase in popularity 2021 (13%) vs. 2022 (24%). After the pandemic broke out, health has been one of the top concerns.

According to GlobalData, there’s a growing demographic of high-net-worth individuals rejecting overt displays of wealth in favor of inconspicuous and responsible consumption. Their approach to luxury is driven by ethical living, artisanship, authenticity and sustainability. Experience is the new currency for those who seek self-fulfillment through green travel and eco holidays.

Commenting on the findings, Hannah Free, GlobalData travel and tourism analyst, said: “With travelers determined to make up for lost time, 2022 could see an increase in holiday budgets for luxury travelers, with an uptick in demand for once in a lifetime adventures.”

Thus, surveys by GlobalData and Virtuoso both showed that luxury tourism is on the rise. And the good news is that luxury travelers are increasingly spending more on tourism, which enables them to experience unique products and services as well as contributing to environmental protection. That’s why destinations and businesses in the tourism industry should focus on developing their brands in a unique and sustainable way to attract high-class customers.

Luxury travelers are spending more, prioritizing experience and sustainability

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