Luxury travel network Virtuoso has shared its latest gathered insights from its data warehouse of more than US$49.5 billion in transactions to identify the leading trends for Australian and New Zealand travellers.
Here are the highlights leading into 2023.
International hotel bookings are on the rise
Virtuoso continues to see an increase in international hotel bookings from this region since borders reopened a year ago. In 2019, 87% of all hotel bookings were for international travel; this figure fell away entirely in 2020 and 2021, before rallying back to 72% in 2022. However, the percentage of all bookings made for international travel in 2023 is trending to surpass the all-time high of 2019, constrained only by air capacity normalising to pre-pandemic levels.
Travellers are planning and booking further ahead
High-net-worth travellers are booking international hotels and resorts further ahead than before. In fact, 2023 bookings are averaging 11 months in advance – that’s up 25% from nine months in 2022. The desire to book in advance is driven by increasing rates, the scarcity of inventory and the ongoing demand for revenge travel to make up for lost trips and experiences.
Prices show no signs of abating
The average daily rate Australian luxury travellers are willing to pay was up 37% for international travel, and 44% for domestic travel compared to 2019 levels, and rates show no signs of abating.
The USA remains top of the pops
The USA remains a hot favourite with Australians and New Zealanders and was at the top of the destination list for 2022. USA bookings outpaced 2019 visitation levels in 2022 by 60 %, and this trend continues into 2023. Hawaii and California are trending as the most popular states for luxury travellers, but Colorado, Nevada and Washington are emerging for 2023. The popularity of travel to the USA is supported by an increase in airline capacity, as airlines on the TransPacific route continue to normalise their scheduling into 2023.
European perennial favourites prove too good to surpass
2022 saw Italy and France re-emerge at the top of the list for travel to Europe, with Italy outpacing France almost two to one. The Greek Islands are back in favour at number three, and traditional spots Spain and the UK, round out the top five destinations for Australians and New Zealanders in 2022. In 2023, Switzerland is trending in the top five at the expense of Spain, which has fallen to seventh place.
Japan is back on the map
Since reopening in recent months, Japan is back in demand, placing third in the trending destinations list for 2023, behind long-time favourites Singapore and Thailand. Dubai is also trending as the most popular Middle Eastern destination for 2023.
Aussies and Kiwi luxury travellers are still loving their own backyards
While international travel is on the rise, Virtuoso’s data insights also show that domestic travel isn’t going away anytime soon, whether due to the ease or the intrigue of exploring one’s own country. In 2022, Virtuoso saw double the domestic visitation recorded compared to 2019. In 2023, Perth, Broome and Darwin are at the top of the list of domestic locations, strongly supported by the trending demand for a luxury cruise in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
“The revival of travel from this region has only just started,” said Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso’s General Manager of Australia & New Zealand.
“The affluent end of the market is certainly defying the odds right now and, so far, hasn’t been adversely impacted by rising interest rates and inflationary concerns.”
“If anything, rising interest rates fuel this end of the market, providing increased consumer confidence and stabilising incomes to allow high-value travellers to enjoy more travel experiences. Whether our partners or our members, the forward books from this region look robust and strong for 2023 and toward 2024,” Dalton noted.