The latest Virtuoso Luxe Report has been released, with forecasts showing travel in 2019 will be highly personalised and inspired by a desire to experience new destinations in unusual ways.
Every year global luxury travel network Virtuoso surveys its force of travel agencies and advisors in 50 countries, including 82 locations in Australia, to gauge what the coming year will bring. The Luxe Report, which has established Virtuoso as a trusted trend predictor, unveils consumer preferences in high-end and experiential travel.
Virtuoso’s affiliated travel advisors revealed client requests that illustrate the desire for a deeper level of personalisation and one-of-a-kind experiences. From specific seat numbers on planes and hotel room numbers to particular rental car types, travellers are more vocal about their precise preferences. Nothing is left to chance, as increasingly clients ask for prearranged meals and appointments. They are seeking not just restaurant reservations, but exact tables at in-demand hot spots as well as pre-ordering wine to accompany the meal. They also ask their advisor to book sessions with hairdressers, massage therapists and even tattoo artists.
Through the Luxe Report, Virtuoso uncovered five trends – all with an overarching movement toward personalisation – shaping how Australia’s most affluent travellers will roam the world in 2019.
Those trends are:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Crossing off bucket-list items is the prevailing travel motivator for Australians in 2019, and Japan tops their list of emerging destinations, as it did in 2018. Multigenerational travel maintains its number-one spot from last year as the biggest trend among Australians, with luxury cruising rising to second place from third the previous year. Italy continues its reign as the top global destination, while also finishing in the top five in the honeymoon, Millennial travel and family travel categories.
Key findings from the Australian version of the 2019 Virtuoso Luxe Report:
Top Global Destinations – Italy, United States, France, Japan, Fiji , Canada, Croatia, Bali, Spain and England.
Top Emerging Destinations – Japan, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Cuba, Croatia, Sardinia, The Arctic, Portugal and Antarctica.
Top Travel Trends – Multigenerational travel, Luxury cruising, Active or Adventure trips, Ocean cruising and River cruising.
Top Adventure Destinations – Antarctica, Botswana, New Zealand, Kenya and South Africa.
Top Millennial Destinations – Croatia, Bali, Greece, Italy and Peru.
Top Cities – New York City, Paris, Rome, London and Tokyo.
Top Family Destinations – Fiji, Italy, Hawaii, Thailand and Japan.
Top Honeymoon Destinations – Maldives, Italy, Fiji, Oahu (Hawaii) and French Polynesia.
Top Cruise Itineraries – European river, Mediterranean, Alaska, South Pacific and Australia/New Zealand.
Top Travel Motivations – Crossing off bucket-list items, Exploring new destinations, Seeking authentic experiences, Rest and relaxation and Spending time/reconnecting with loved ones
A total of 1,071 travel advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated agencies in Australia as well as the rest of Asia-Pacific, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East were surveyed for the global version of the report, drawing on their vast experience as well as client requests to provide insight into 2019’s hottest trends.
Lead image: Cinque Terre, Italy – Australia’s leading global destination for affluent travellers.