Elsa Bacry, Virtuoso – Director, Europe, Middle East & Africa Member Partnerships talks about the key travel trends for 2019.
L.N What are the travel trends Virtuoso is observing right now?
E.B Every year Virtuoso surveys its force of professional travel advisors to determine the emerging trends, which we publish in our annual Luxe Report. According to the 2019 Virtuoso Luxe Report, social media’s influence on travel choices is unmistakable. It drives the 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 moments, including replicating shots they’ve admired online. Virtuoso advisors are arranging themed photoshoots characteristic of destinations, such as wearing ball gowns in Venice.
Upscale travellers also want to expand their horizons and be the first to discover emerging destinations, especially places they can feature on social media that will leave those at home just a little envious and give them a case of FOMO. The Luxe Report found the top three selections for the hottest up-and-coming locales are Japan, Colombia and Sri Lanka. Japan also placed in the top 5 Global and Millennial destinations; it is trending in popularity with luxury travellers worldwide.
Adventure travel is the biggest trend at the moment for U.K. travellers, with authenticity in second place. Both of those converge in an interesting phenomenon: driven by the desire for novel experiences, worldly travelers who have seen it all are requesting stays in unusual accommodations: a treehouse, a monastery, an igloo in Norway, a tent in the Moroccan desert, the shores of the Red Sea, or even a bubble nestled in nature so they can gaze at stars before falling asleep.
L.N What are the key travel needs for 2019?
E.B When people travel, they’re making an investment of their most precious resource – their leisure time. As a result, today’s travellers are looking for every aspect of the journey to be deeply personalized to their tastes and interests. From specific seat numbers on planes and hotel room numbers to particular rental car types, they are more vocal about their precise preferences. Nothing is left to chance, as increasingly clients of Virtuoso travel advisors 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.
As part of this trend towards ultra-personalization, people want to explore their passions through once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Sports fans are requesting tickets to events such as the Olympics 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. Advisors are also arranging private dinners with influential local figures.
L.N What is motivating upscale travellers for 2019 (based on Virtuoso’s Luxe Report)?
E.B Seeking authentic experiences is the prevailing travel motivator for Brits in 2019, according to the Virtuoso Luxe Report. Today people, especially Millennials, are prioritizing experiences over material goods, like the memories, they return home with bringing them more happiness than things. Crossing off wish-list items – both destinations and experiences – is the next most powerful influence for upscale travellers, who want to seize the day and make their travel dreams a reality. Dovetailing with the quest for authentic experiences, seeking adventure is also high on the lists of UK travellers; South Africa is their top adventure destination of 2019. Rest and relaxation to revitalize from the always-on pace of life today and exploring new destinations round out the top five motivators for British luxury travellers.