Luxury travel forecast to continue upswing in 2020

Industry execs vote Four Seasons, Crystal and AmaWaterways "most admired" luxury brands

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

Political and economic instability are no match for the insatiable drive to travel, according to a recent survey of top luxury travel executives, who have predicted yet another banner year for the segment. That’s the verdict from US-based travel consultancy firm Strategic Vision in its annual Pulse of the Industry Survey.

The latest feedback indicates that 70% of respondents forecast an increase in revenues in 2020, while 50% described their clients’ attitudes as “optimistic” about both domestic and international travel. That positive sentiment largely overrides concerns about potential disruptors such as natural disasters, political unrest, and economic hiccups from Brexit or trade disputes.

Luxury travellers’ optimism is increasingly paired with a growing sense of responsibility and a clear-eyed perspective on travel’s impact on the planet.

Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity

“Once again, we are seeing that the desire to explore the world, make connections, and find self-fulfilment through travel remains strong at the high end of the market,” said Peter J. Bates, President and Founder of Strategic Vision, which services the luxury travel and lifestyle industries.

“At the same time, travellers are expressing concern about the impact of overtourism and climate change, and they recognise the need to ensure that their own travel behaviours are sustainable.”

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris | Royal Suite

Other findings from this years survey include:

  • 88% of respondents said their company’s overall revenues increased in 2019
  • Clients’ personal financial standing has the strongest positive impact on their travel decisions, whereas concerns about terrorism and crime had the greatest negative impact.
  • Japan, Portugal, and Iceland are among the top “trending” destinations for 2020, according to luxury travel advisors. Respondents foresee negative trends for Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and South America.
  • Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Crystal Cruises, and AmaWaterways are the luxury travel brands the respondents admire the most.

Japan was the destination expected to benefit the most from sustained demand for luxury travel experiences, on the back of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Other locations where advisors are seeing rising interest include Portugal, Iceland, Italy, Egypt, Australia and New Zealand, Croatia, St. Barths, and Rwanda.

AmaWaterways' extra-wide river ship, AmaMagna

There was consensus among respondents on the major trends in luxury travel. Nearly nine out of ten (88%) said they see more interest in experiential travel, followed by a focus on local experiences (86%); multi-generational travel (81%); adventure travel (77%); and once-in-a lifetime or “bucket list” trips (67%). Last year’s survey found similar results, signalling that the experiential travel megatrend is still on the rise.

Overtourism and similar concerns don’t seem to be stopping people from travelling altogether; rather, they shift attention away from destinations perceived as being too crowded, and toward the undiscovered and underappreciated.

Technology in general poses additional challenges to the luxury travel industry. Nine out of ten of the travel management executives surveyed said they face competition from suppliers and other partners who are marketing directly to their clients.

Spa House at Amanoi
Spa House at Amanoi, Aman Resorts

For the first time, the Pulse of the Industry Survey asked all respondents to indicate the luxury travel brands they admire the most. The results provide a ranking of the top names in hotels and ocean and river cruises by their industry peers, rather than by consumers. Here are the brands that received the most votes in each of the three categories:

Luxury Hotels Ocean Cruise
1. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts 1. Crystal Cruises
2. Aman Resorts 2. Silversea Cruises
=3. Oetker Collection =3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
=3. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts =3. Seabourn Cruise Line
5. Montage International 5. Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic
6. Dorchester Collection 6. Ponant
7. The Peninsula Hotels 7. Oceania Cruises
8. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas =8. Celebrity Cruises
9. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company =8. SeaDream Yacht Club
=10. Belmond =8. Windstar Cruises
=10. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
River Cruise
1. AmaWaterways
2. Crystal River Cruises
3. Uniworld River Cruises
4. Aqua Expeditions
5. Viking River Cruises

The Pulse of the Industry Survey is conducted annually by Strategic Vision and includes executives from the top travel management firms in the United States, which plan and book leisure, business, meetings, and incentive travel for some of the world’s largest companies and wealthiest individuals. For the first time, the 2020 survey also included top executives from the hospitality, cruise, and destination marketing segments, providing a more comprehensive outlook for the luxury travel industry.

For more information on the survey, click HERE.

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