Christmas is fast approaching. With millions of people traveling to visit family and friends, Christmas is one of the most productive times of the year for the global transport infrastructure. Indeed, the holiday season is not only a big market for retailers, it is also a rewarding time for travel companies. The tourism industry has experienced staggering growth over the last six decades, particularly during the holiday season, thanks to the continuous development in technology and transport infrastructures.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are among the busiest long-distance travel phases of the year. According to the United States Department of transportation, the number of long-distance trips during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period has increased by 54%, and during the Christmas holiday season, the number has risen by 23%. The travel industry has undergone tremendous changes over the past few years, and luxury travel is one of the newest subsets of tourism that is making headlines.
Fact check: The luxury travel industry is booming!
Luxury travel is defined less by thread count and more by access to the people, places, and experiences that signify all that is authentic and memorable about a destination. A traveller’s perception of luxury changes not only through his/her lifetime, it can be altered through the duration of a single holiday. Circumstances along the journey can potentially change set opinions and established norms. Thus, in the new era of luxury travel, companies must constantly monitor the traveller’s expectations, and adapt accordingly. In other words, now, luxury is real-time.
Over the last few years, the demand for travel and tourism has remained steady despite troubling economic times. Particularly, the luxury travel segment has remained fairly resilient, especially during the holiday season. According to a recent research, more people are expected to take to the skies this Christmas travel season than the years before, thereby continuing the surge in travel demand that is anticipated to generate substantial profits for tourism brands across the world.
As we enter a new era of luxury travel, exploring the latest innovations and trends is key for travel companies to achieve a new level of luxury that perhaps never existed before. Here are the top 5 trends to watch in the luxury travel market that will likely revolutionize the tourism industry.
1) Wellness tourism combines the quest for health with touring experiences
Wellness tourism is truly on the rise these days. According to the Global Wellness Summit, a significant number of travelers are placing more emphasis on health and fitness, and the travel niche is expanding 50 percent faster than the combined travel industry. From stop-smoking retreats to emotion-healing holidays, the increasing consideration of personal well-being has spawned an entire industry that offers wellness-themed travel.
While salons and spas were once the epicenters of wellness tourism, the industry has mushroomed to include holistic cruises, fine hotels, weight loss programs, hiking and backpacking trips, creative and spiritual retreats, medical travel and more. The wellness trend is being embraced throughout the tourism industry, and not only by hotels. A large number of destination marketing entities are including the theme of wellness within their branding as well as organizing health-related initiatives.
2) Online travel agencies are slowing taking the reins of the industry
The idea of booking vacations online might have seemed crazy when Microsoft launched Expedia in 1966. Today, after two decades, online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Priceline, TripAdvisor, and Expedia are generating significant revenue reservations. The online travel market looks matured in many countries like the US and UK. According to Statista, online flight booking revenue is highest in the United States, with a market value of roughly 110 billion U.S. dollars. The United Kingdom ranks third, with a market value of approx. 19 billion U.S. dollars.
This stat is expected to rise significantly. The incrementing number of people who own mobile devices indicates a definite shift in booking patterns inching towards these smartphones. The primary market drivers for OTA brands are higher digitization, mobile adoption, and international expansion.
3) Personalization of guest data to drive contentment
The luxury travel industry has been the subject of quite a bit of research recently, and most of it has reached the same conclusion: affluent travelers look for personalization and exclusive experiences. Today’s travelers have become increasingly savvy, and through customer reviews they are expressing their opinions about a trip and also analyzing the pros and cons of a particular destination that they are travelling to.
By analyzing what travelers are expressing, travel brands can eventually use this user-generated content to tailor or personalize their services in order to give customers a more satisfactory experience. For instance, many hotels link their software with the social media profile of the guest so that they can tailor the booking to the guest’s expectations.
4) Artificial intelligence: a game changer?
For several years now, the travel and tourism industry has dabbled in artificial intelligence (AI), seeking to unveil the promise of more efficient communications and superior customer service between travel suppliers, travel agents, and customers. AI, which several experts predict will have an immense impact on the tourism industry, is becoming a reality with the steady progress in technological innovation.
Today, several luxury travel brands are developing and using AI, and experts agree that a recognizable impact is not too far off, with the trickle effect likely to hit the travel agents’ workflows over the next several months. AI technology can be used to tap into traveler information to precisely target customers, which creates opportunities for selling an extensive range of services, improving the travel experience, and targeted advertising in a more personalized way.
5) Space, the final luxury frontier
Five decades after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to witness the wonders of spaceflight, commercial brands seem to be on the cusp of a breakthrough revolution- space tourism. Indeed, space tourism is closer to reality today then a mere decade ago. Right now, private firms are racing to offer paying customers the exclusive orbital and suborbital experiences in a bid to open up this final frontier.
Virgin Galactic was the pioneer in building space flights, and this vision is presently in an advanced stage of flight testing. According to Reuters, space travel should bring in anything between $600 million to $1.6 billion in the next ten years. No wonder, few revolutionary technologies enjoy the global attention and active participation as space tourism.