Ultra-luxury travel trends to emerge post-COVID

Traveller Made identifies eight new tendencies of high-net-worth-individuals

Khwai Leadwood camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Traveller Made has identified eight main travel trends in the ultra-luxury market as a result of the pandemic.

Six years ago the network of luxury travel designers highlighted half-a-dozen trends it forecast would prevail over future years, some of which, including Experiential, Privacy & Intimacy and Slow Travel, have an even greater relevance today due to COVID-19.

Quentin Dersumont, President, Traveller Made

“In 2020, after several months of the pandemic, we saw some of those trends grow stronger, and others emerge,” Traveller Made’s Founder and President, Quentin Desurmont, said ahead of the group’s annual Essence of Luxury Travel event, being held virtually for a second time in late May/early June.

Those new luxury travel trends identified fell under the following categories:

  • Domestic and close-to-home,
  • Multigenerational
  • Privacy
  • Nature & Open Spaces
  • Sports
  • Wellness and Healthy Lifestyle
  • Sustainability and Self-improvement
  • “Workations” and The Exceptional Now

“We can now say, in April 2021, after more than one year of pandemic and travel deprivation for most of us, that those trends are here to stay.”

“The way we will travel is likely going to be an intertwining of two or more of these trends, as some elements such as sustainability, health and self-improvement will remain an inherent part of the travel experience,” Desurmont said.

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VOMO The Palms, Fiji

The Traveller Made Yearly Barometer which gauges the confidence of the group’s members, along with revenue growth, unsurprisingly hovered around historic lows in 2020.

The group’s network of 3,500 individual travel designers in 70 countries recorded its first negative revenue growth in the company’s short history, of -71.2%. (Traveller Made’s next lowest annual revenue growth was in 2019 – a healthy 10% growth.)

“-72% in revenue in 2020 is better than nothing,” Desurmont said. “It means they can still show their loyal clients that they can help tremendously.”

The Maldives | Credit: Asad/Pexels

Traveller Made’s confidence index, which is measured in the first two months of the year, was 58% in 2020 – down from a high of 83% in 2018, and 11 percentage points lower than 2019. In 2021, the confidence index dropped again, however not dramatically, to 57%.

“When Travel Designers provided their confidence for 2021, they were hesitant between the potentially strong recovery driven by the positive impact of vaccines and the understanding that international re-openings of borders and flights could take longer than expected and that the recovery might only come in 2022,” he said.

With its vision now locked on 2021 and 2022, Traveller Made remains adamant luxury travel will be the first market to “kickback” into gear.

“Ultra-wealthy have been desperate to travel, making bookings and cancelling. It is very likely they wish to travel a lot more and do extraordinary new travels” to remote, quiet and less crowded destinations.”

Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom

The firm expects corporate bookings and corporate events will continue to struggle to recover, but says private travel (jets, yachts and villas) will thrive, as will family and friends celebrations.

“The entire industry must be ready to work on maximum booking and cancellation flexibility to kick start business momentum: for shoulder and low season obviously, but also for peak seasons in case of new lockdowns,” Desurmont advised.

“Recovery will come from luxury leisure travel locally first, continentally second, meta continentally third and worldwide fourth.

“In the near future there will be a lot more last-minute opportunistic bookings and long term planned travels that will be changed, moved, upgraded…involving a lot more work for Travel Designers,” Desurmont concluded.

Traveller Made’s The Essence of Luxury Travel virtual conference will run from 31 May to 4 June 2021. Over 500 members and partners from around the globe are expected to participate over the four days.

Lead image: African Bush Camps’ newly opened Khwai Leadwood camp, Okavango Delta

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