Our thanks go to Jenny Southan of Globetrender, which first published this trend report.
From group yachting and long-let villas, to multi-gen safaris and island castaways, new luxury travel trends are emerging from the global shutdown. Globetrender speaks with eight industry insiders about what lies ahead.
JAYNE ALEXANDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF LUXURY TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE PR FIRM THE DOVETAIL AGENCY
These challenging times have given us an appreciation of intrinsic luxury in our lives, from nature’s beauty to the simplicity of baking at home with family. By recognising the simple pleasures in life, travel at any level will become more precious, more exotic and more adventurous.
As travel bans lift and borders open, the world will provide opportunities to truly discover and relish every experience, whether it is a desire to surf in Devon, stretch out by a pool in Ibiza, explore the Arctic in an expedition ship or trek the Inca Trail.
Travel will slowly return to be one of the most valuable investments of our time and money as we look forward to a future where being able to fly and explore our beautiful planet is regarded as a rare commodity.
The issue of sustainability will maintain its relevance and importance as the travel industry recovers and an appreciation for the world’s fragility is more apparent than ever.
A trend for longer staycations and travel into the winter months will provide tourism in the British Isles with the bounce back needed. Bucket-list escapism will give travellers the desire to be bold with their planning for 2021.
To help travel companies adapt, we have launched Accelerate by Dovetail, an intensive media and marketing service to support existing travel, hospitality and luxury lifestyle companies, as well as start-ups, in this “new normal”, and help them tap into pent-up consumer demand.
Our clients are affluent and influential, they are well travelled and expect quality. They have high expectations when it comes to service and value for money. They expect the best and are looking for something different.
Many are looking for more than two weeks on a beach, they are looking for life-enhancing, sometimes, life-changing travel where they can expect a much deeper connection with the world around them. We achieve this through the insider access to people and places we can provide.
Over the last six months we have created personalised and private itineraries ranging from £30,000 to £250,000.
To ease the worry of booking in such uncertain times we are offering a 100 per cent money-back guarantee up to 60 days prior to departure or the opportunity to change dates or destination without charge.
We have also created itineraries that we feel will appeal to a new outlook on travel for many, such as: witnessing the total eclipse of the sun from a luxury camp in Patagonia (December 2020); cultural immersion in Japan during cherry blossom season (spring 2021); carefully crafted experiences in each of the world’s “Blue Zones”; and storm chasing (a trend that Globetrender predicted in its Future of Luxury Travel Forecast: 2020-2025).
We are finding that a growing number of clients are considering trips later this year and into 2021. Their first trip may well be a return to a destination they have been to before and know well which instills confidence, reassurance and familiarity. Villas, private houses and suites that are a separate part of a hotel are naturally the preferred choice.
Phase two will see more far-flung adventurous, bucket-list-type trips for 2021 for multi-generational families or large groups of friends to celebrate and re-unite. We can also see that there are others who want to travel to re-asses and re-evaluate life.
Destinations considered safe where there is a low Covid-19 count and no quarantine requirement are desired, as well as where there is the infrastructure and hygiene protocols. Europe is popular right now. There is re-assurance booking through a travel provider who can assist and make arrangements where and when needed.
Clients are looking for private and exclusive experiences, one contact/driver/guide throughout, private camps or retreats from start to finish. Countries that are soon to open for business and are more remote with lower populations, are past the peak and have a good heath care infrastructure are wished for, such as Iceland, Vietnam, Myanmar and Japan.
We see Isolation Vacations as an increasingly popular holiday option. We are continuing to create bespoke itineraries around space and privacy. For example:
1) Island Castaway: you and up to eight family members or friends may choose your own uninhabited island in Tonga, Panama, Philippines or French Polynesia. Travel by speedboat to an uninhabited island paradise where you will be castaway. Develop survival skills and techniques from a wilderness survival expert. Utilise basic equipment and natural resources to master the five key elements of survival: psychology, shelter, fire, food and water. Explore idyllic atolls and glassy lagoons, above and below the surface. Witness natural phenomena such as whales, turtles or crabs nesting, hatching and migrating. Replenish and reinvigorate yourself on one of the world’s few remaining pristine “desert islands”.
2) Glacier Party: an epic way to celebrate lifting of restrictions. Party under the Northern Lights in your own bespoke glacier camp with private bar and DJ. Snorkel between tectonic plates in the impossibly clear waters of the Silfra fissure. Feast on gourmet meals served in extraordinary private settings such as a lava tube chamber and a troglodyte cave. Explore volcanoes, black beaches and glaciers by buggy, snowmobile, dog sled and helicopter. Retreat to your private lodge with its own geothermal spa.
OLIVER CORKHILL, CEO OF LUXURY SKI HOLIDAY AGENCY LEO TRIPPI
Our typical clients are globally diverse – we really have a wide spread of nationalities booking with us. They tend to be high-net worth groups of family and friends. Our average holiday was around US$60,000 last year although we had a wide range from US$5,000 up to over US$1 million.
We’re talking one-on-one with our key clients to see what they’re looking for and how they’re approaching everything. There definitely isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that we could push out into the market.
We’re sharing a lot of content on social media and via our magazine to keep people engaged and dreaming of where they might visit next. Of course, we’re actively working on flexible booking conditions however we’re tailoring this based on when the booking is, where it’s to and where the clients are from – there are so many different elements to factor.
Trends we are observing include longer-lets, renting a property for a month or the whole ski season as well as more variable service offerings (some people are bringing their own staff, others want zero service – especially for the bookings over the summer). I don’t think that will last though; people will always want service on holiday. Other than that it’s the good old family holiday, people want to change their surroundings.
Who will be the first to start travelling again? High net-worth and ultra-high net-worth travellers – they are still travelling to some degree and have the means to do so, they can travel last-minute via private jet and have more flexibility.
Our clients form part of an ultra-affluent, discerning group of people who appreciate the world in which they live and value exploring it. They seek out the best and tend to wish to go off the beaten track to find the most beautiful parts of the world. They want to be closer to nature and to be more connected to others.
They have a natural spirit of adventure, and range from being adrenaline seekers through to being people who want to relax on the vessel and enjoy pristine pockets above and below the ocean peacefully. We develop and carefully craft itineraries which meet the age and dynamic of the entire group.
Interestingly enough, they rarely ask price; they are more motivated to understand that they can have privacy and that their needs will be met. Many of our clients value the time they spend with their families and as such they host multi-generational trips and use our unique offering of having a multi-vessel fleet to be able to bring family together and yet still retain privacy.
The budget ranges between US$60,000 per week on a single vessel and on a full fleet journey that can be US$300,000. We offer an easy booking service which means guests don’t have to worry about any added bills; all the drinks, food, all equipment and every possible ocean activity is included.
We are starting to see our club members wanting to take a break from the strain of concern that coronavirus has brought on. We have been fortunate to be situated in an area that we feel guests are going to want to escape to – places which are not throbbing with people and equally reconnect with the beauty of nature. We are really trying to inspire guests to remember the value of life, the outdoors and the power of nature to revitalise.
We have done everything to ensure that we have cleaning protocols in place from sanitising stations to air filtration on the vessels. Private jet travellers we find are looking for new destinations where they can truly escape, feel safe and immerse themselves in their own passion for the ocean.
Overall, a desire for quick escape seems less relevant. We believe that being in a small group or a groups of families, will be more on the rise.
Our main focus has been to ensure our guests know that they can postpone travel without any penalty or changed rates up until June 30, 2022. We want people to be excited about their travel to South Africa and be excited about the experience that awaits them.
We have a team that has remained on the reserve to ensure we maintain the environment, habitat and lodges in a condition that is suitable to welcome guests back at short notice. We also have safari guides heading out on safari to keep a keen eye on the reserve and its inhabitants.
At the same time, we have drawn up a detailed operations manual aimed at health and safety post-Covid-19. These include guidelines on social distancing, changing the dining arrangements, and fewer guests per vehicle.
The beauty of where we are is that everything is outdoors, and we are currently in a Covid-19-free area. Suites are very well spaced from each other and the variety of lodges/camps we offer will cater to those wanting to avoid any form of crowds. We even have two small camps ideal for exclusive use.
Ultimately, we believe that humans will want to be more mindful, and sustainable travel will continue to be a key factor in choosing a destination. People will also want to be seen as being philanthropic.
We also see a lot of demand for family travel. There is no better bond than enjoying your first elephant sighting or lion sighting out on safari together. Feeling the same emotions and learning new things together – regardless of age differences – is powerful. It makes us realise that there is so much more to enjoy once we strip away some daily technological comforts.
As soon as international borders open, we believe that travel will explode. People want to live and feel alive. The bush is a place to find yourself, your purpose, connect with nature or just relax and let the sounds and smells of Africa calm you. We have wide open spaces where one can experience the circle of life.
LOUISE GIBNEY, FOUNDER OF ELITE VILLA RENTAL COMPANY BOO IBIZA
I decided to build a high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth property rental model here in Ibiza – to give a seamless, magical experience which is not easy on a small “pirate” island. Budgets are from €10,000 a week to €300,000 a week in summer. All my houses have staff, who are part of the family. I work with families, successful entrepreneurs, hedge fund managers, fashion and film moguls.
Through my Instagram page, I have been working hard to share my Ibiza experience with listeners/watchers. I have also been very cautious to confirm bookings as the news changes every day on when and which travellers can come to Ibiza.
It’s important that the “right” people come to Ibiza in summer 2020 – those who understand and respect that we need to protect our island and who genuinely need a peaceful break from Covid-19.
No one is interested to stay in a hotel. I am inundated with requests for safe and secure passage from commercial and private airports to clean, sanitised luxury homes with healthy staff.
Travellers are looking to come for longer stays up until October 2020 as home schooling may continue into later in the year, and there is no need to stay in London, for example. I am also seeing more people looking to drive to Spain and arrive in Ibiza by boat – and bringing their dogs too!
The first people to start travelling again will be those who can afford it, and those who are nomadic and filled with wanderlust. They will come to Ibiza for healthy living and fresh air, clean food with private chefs, learning Spanish, home schooling, wild swimming, cliff jumping, paddle boarding, kayaking, boat trips and yoga. They will want quiet time with family or friends.
WILL SENIOR, CO-FOUNDER OF LUXURY TRANSFER COMPANY ICHAUFFEUR
As clients return to work in London and other major cities, we are being asked to provide ground transportation in order to eliminate their need for public transport. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in city-to-city transfers within the UK.
We are also seeing bookings for July and August for clients wishing to go on holiday and for us to provide support for staycations, as well as a few European trips. If we look as far ahead as September, there is a marked increase in inbound tourism with travellers across Europe booking tours across the UK.
We expect commercial air travel to pick up but only once airlines have adapted their seating configurations and introduced more contactless travel initiatives.
One of the areas of most concern for our clients is safety, which is why we have introduced the concept of “touch-free” travel (this includes the double cleaning of vehicles before and after journeys), but we also predict increased concerns over cyber security.
As a business we do not operate with cash, however, to encourage new consumers we have adapted our payment systems to send payment links through a secure, encrypted server. We do not hold card details if the client does not want us to. By sending a payment link we can verify the money is in our account without ever having to see our client’s card details.
We currently monitor our chauffeur’s temperature on a daily basis as well as ask health questions for all clients travelling with us.
As track and trace technology develops, we will work with our tech team to integrate this into our systems. It maybe that in the next few weeks and months new measures are put in place – for example health data for passengers – so we have to be agile as a business to be able to adapt our technology to incorporate new client information.
Our clients are generally affluent, well-educated travellers looking for something a little bit different. Our expertise lies around the fringes of travel in exclusive access, frontier destinations and specialist leaders.
When it comes to travel in the age of coronavirus, I think being open and honest is the way forward. We are working with our clients as much as possible to assist in either moving their current trips, or booking new ones.
In recent weeks, some consumer confidence has come back and we are assisting by offering flexible booking terms and having an open conversation about the risks and rewards of future travel within destinations of choice.
The obvious focus for the immediate future of travel is destinations that are less populated with more wide-open spaces. Exclusivity is also key, ensuring that travellers can manage their immediate touch points and local interactions. Our clients always want something different. But they also want travel that is relevant and worthy of their time and money.
I think the British are always sturdy travellers. However, where they go will be dictated by which travel bans are lifted first. I do think that the US has become more resilient in recent years to “travel issues” so I hope that this will also be the case post Covid-19.
Isolation Vacations will be in vogue for the foreseeable future, however, my hope is that things will go back to “normal” sooner rather than later as a number of properties will not be able to survive if having to limit numbers on their premises.
That is not to say, however, that the industry does not need to improve, refine its priorities and look at how it is going to protect the planet through conscientious travel going forwards.