Managing director, Seabourn and Holland America Line
The new definition of luxury
Luxury has evolved, and continues to evolve over time as consumer habits and tastes change. There has been a shift in focus from ownership and status to experiential satisfaction. While in the past people might purchase an item of furniture or jewellery to mark a special occasion, now they are more likely to choose an experience. Today, luxury reflects consumer emotions, aspirations and passions.
Within the travel sector, 63 per cent of wealthy consumers agree the definition of luxury is not the same as it was even five years ago. They are increasingly seeking exclusive and authentic experiences that resonate with their desires. It’s all about providing individual, bespoke products for the luxury traveller.
Luxury consumers equate small with beautiful. They want curated experiences and access to places, spaces and faces – all that is personalised and authentic.
Luxury cruise – the future
According to GFK (Growth from Knowledge) the luxury sector is outperforming the mass holiday market. Although issues such as Brexit have had an impact overall on holidays, the luxury sector has shown strong performance and a more resilient booking curve.
All-inclusive bookings have become more popular within travel, and many ultra-luxury travel companies offer a high-quality all-inclusive proposition, as even wealthy travellers are seeking value and ease, with all their gourmet cuisine and fine wines included.
Within the ultra-luxury cruise sector there will be double-digit growth between 2019 and 2022. And more luxury capacity means more choice of unusual destinations only accessible on an intimate ship, such as tiny Greek and Caribbean islands, Greenland, Iceland and the Polar regions.
That means more opportunity for travel agents to convert their luxury land lovers to ultra-luxury cruise.
Luxury travellers need someone to really listen to them, to know their family, their lifestyle, their important milestones, their “passion points” – in fact, their mindset.
As Alistair Pritchard from Deloitte says, “Holidays remain special to consumers and a travel business can set itself up for success by understanding what, when and how consumers want their holidays.”
Converting the luxury land lover
We advise travel agents to focus on the luxury land lovers and luxury travellers. This is a huge opportunity for growth and these clients will love a luxury cruise on an intimate boutique hotel, which just happens to be at sea!
When talking to a client who stays at resorts and bijou hotels, use the language that luxury travellers will understand. For example, at Seabourn, we use the terminology “oceanfront suites” rather than seaview staterooms. We’ve even had one of the world’s top hotel designers create our latest ships, with hotel-style ambience and amenities in mind.
Expedition – an opportunity
Growth in the expedition sector has shown that consumers’ keenness to explore can be a powerful driver. With more than 40 expedition ships on order between now and 2023, there is an opportunity to attract adventurous travellers with an appetite for authentic wildlife and nature. They can travel to the farthest reaches of the globe with an experienced expedition team, and all in complete luxury – perhaps aboard an all veranda-suite PC6-class ship, equipped with kayaks, Zodiacs and two submarines, Seabourn Venture!