Personalisation remains prevalent and the desire for new experiences will drive consumer travel in 2019, according to a new report from Virtuoso.
The latest Virtuoso Luxe Report, which surveys its portfolio of travel agencies in 50 countries, including 28 UK locations, found what the next year will bring in terms of travel trends and consumer preferences in high-end and experiential travel.
The report uncovered five key trends, with an overarching movement towards personalisation and experimentation.
1. Motivation: Social media’s influence is unmistakable, as it drives travellers’ desire to find the most captivating backdrops and the best time of day for snapping images. Clients are requesting on-site photography sessions to create Instagram-worthy content, including replicating shots they admired online. Virtuoso advisors are arranging themed photoshoots characteristic of destinations, such as wearing traditional geisha attire in Kyoto or ball gowns in Venice.
2. Transportation: When flying commercial, airlines with state-of-the-art business and first-class cabins are a favourite. Upon landing, VIP airport arrival services that whisk travellers through customs and ease tight connections are growing in demand. Requests are on the rise for private helicopter transfers to and from airports as well as from one city or resort island to another.
3. Accommodation: Experiential travellers who have seen it all are craving stays in unconventional accommodations. Those range from a treehouse to a monastery to an igloo in Norway, a tent in the Moroccan desert, the shores of the Red Sea, and even a bubble nestled in nature so they can gaze at stars before drifting off to sleep.
4. Recreation: People want to explore their passions through bucket-list experiences. Sports fans are asking for tickets to major events such as the Olympics, Super Bowl and Wimbledon. Art aficionados are inquiring about private tours of locales like the Vatican after hours. Shoppers want appointments at high-end stores such as Hermès to purchase signature items like a Birkin bag. Music lovers are booking trips to summer festivals and concerts. Advisors are also arranging private dinners with influential local figures.
5. Conservation: Travellers are expressing heightened interest in animal-related experiences. Some request visits to animal protection facilities or to observe animals in the wild, such as whale watching and viewing rhinos at close range. Some want to interact more directly with animals, such as at the Giraffe House in Nairobi or dog sledding to the North Pole. They also exhibit concern for animal welfare and want to ensure that interactions are sustainable.