Wealthy U.S. travelers are one of the most lucrative travel market segments in the world, and an important driver of luxury travel demand and trends across the globe. Resonance conducted an online survey of 1,667 U.S. travelers with household incomes of $200k+ and/or net worth of $2 million+ (top 5%). 724 of travelers surveyed have household incomes of $400k+ and/or net worth of $8 million+ (top 1%).
We found that the wealthiest 5% take an average of 14.3 trips per year – about half for business and half for leisure – compared to just 4.8 by U.S. travelers in general. With an average of 2.9 people per household, and an average expenditure of $3,115 per person per vacation, that adds up to spending of approximately $390 billion per year on leisure travel alone.
The 2016 Future of Luxury Travel Report identifies 10 high level trends that reflect experiences and habits that are shaping the travel experience at the high end in the U.S. and around the world.
Experiences can only be deemed ‘transformative’ if they change you. But for the highly evolved species that is the luxury traveler, who has seen and done much, can transformation only come from an out of this world experience?
Food was once a quintessential expression of local, a placemaking tool, a destination-maker, and a refuge for connoisseurs and the curious. Today, art is the new food. And travelers, wealthy and otherwise, are developing a taste for it.
Once, there was a world without wellness; now it’s ubiquitous. Today, ‘Well-being’, a word that includes health, comfort and happiness, is the next addition to the vocabulary of health – and to the aspirations of luxury travelers.
As Asian hospitality interests look overseas for growth and aggressively buy up western brands, they’re targeting wealthy travelers from around the world. But they’re also looking ahead to providing accommodation for the ever-growing numbers of Asian leisure and business travelers.
Multi-generational travel has been the biggest trend in tourism for more than five years. Now it’s not changing the configuration of resort and second home destinations as the wealthy demand ever-larger lodgings to accommodate extended families and friends – and sometimes, entire communities.
Ownership of a vacation home, or many homes, has always been one of the most desirable luxuries for the wealthy. But today, technology is changing the way the affluent access, use and buy – or don’t buy – vacation properties around the world.
Hospitality design once placed wealthy travelers in an opulent bubble. Then came contemporary interiors, with their rarified materials and clean, hard edges. Now, luxury has warmed up to its surroundings and opened up to the out of doors. But the wow remains.
As extreme athletics take the place of golf as the go-to pass time for a new generation of executives, destinations and hospitality providers have new opportunities to attract a wealthy demographic that will go anywhere and spend what is costs to maximize their fitness and improve their results.
Luxury travelers want advisors, not agents; they seek connoisseur-level experts who cultivate relationships and deep knowledge of individual needs in order to assemble experiences as unique as the people who will enjoy them. The advisors who will flourish in the future are those who can combine the human element with innovative uses of technology.
It used to be that a vacation didn’t really start until travelers had checked into the hotel, found a quiet spot by the pool and taken that first sip of wine. But for wealthy, experience-seeking travelers, carriers are making the getaway begin before the plane even takes off. And in a world where flying is drudgery, the journey is once again becoming as memorable as the destination.
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