Of all the star categories and segments within the travel and hospitality industry, the luxury segment is growing faster than the rest. This is welcomed news for four and five-star hotels. As the B2B portion of ITB Berlin comes to an end, we explore the future of luxury travel and hospitality.

Today’s goal? To define New Luxury – What Top-End Customers Really Want. The panel discussion on this topic included five distinguished professionals within the luxury travel industry: Marc Aeberhard, owner of Luxury Hotel & Spa Management Limited, acted as moderator to Jillian Blackbeard, Executive Manager Marketing at Botswana Tourism Organisation; Sergio Comino, Director of Jesolo International Club Camping; Hon. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine in the Republic of Seychelles; and Samih Sawiris, Chairman at Orascom HD.

In this post, we’ll look at what each of these professionals believes the future of luxury travel and hospitality holds.

New Luxury – What Top-End Customers Really Want

As Marc Aeberhard put it, “the golden bathtub has gone democratic”, and the niceties of the original luxury segment no longer suffice. To drive luxury today, hoteliers need to move away from the tangible glitz and glamor of the past and focus on intangible rarities instead.

So what does this look like?

As mentioned in the first of our Live from ITB Berlin blog posts, the topic of security was a main focus of this year’s trade show. Notably, due to safety reasons, travelers within the luxury segment are increasingly looking for destinations off the beaten path.

Secondly, there’s a growing demand that accommodations should provide more than just lodging—travelers want unique experiences. To meet this demand, brands must provide a boutique experience in order to “pinch that luxury nerve” and simultaneously remain highly profitable, according to Hon. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.

Lastly, the value of sustainable practices begins with those who have the foresight and the funding to ensure green standards are both met and exceeded in business and the community. Jillian Blackbeard suggested that, “as a luxury tourist you want to feel good about what you’re doing. As a hotelier, you want to attract tourists with a top-end product first, and then amaze them with thoughtful sustainability.”

These trends come together in an eight-part manifesto, and are best explained within five specific parameters.

Satisfy the future of luxury market trends with five parameters

Time and space

“Let breakfast be 24 hours”. According to Marc Aeberhard, luxury is not having to keep track of the time, or place. As a luxury traveler, you’re not limited by the unattainable. Rather, its fuel is exclusivity. For travelers, this means nothing is impossible and exclusivity is key. As such, guests expect to have their time and space. For hoteliers, this means there’s no appetite for “efficiency-driven, square-meter-reduced rooms.”

Samih Sawiris pointed out that, hotels have an incredible role in declaring a destination worth visiting. True luxury offerings have the power to put an otherwise unknown location on the map. A large part of this success comes from an unspoken guarantee of safety, as well as the promotion of health through an exclusive blend of top-end wellness services.

Sustainability and authenticity

Picture a relaxing fishing excursion out on the reef, in a largely unknown marine environment on the other side of the world. Now imagine making your way back to the beach where an idyllic picnic for two awaits, with the day’s catch already grilling on the barbecue. This is the kind of sustainable and authentic experience guests crave, and according to Hon. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Seychelles are just the destination that will leave a luxury tourist “imprinted with the destination upon him.”

Exclusivity and individuality

To go above and beyond the guest’s needs is a mark of luxury, according to Sergio Comino. To do this, you need to understand and fulfill the individual desires of your guest. This is a highly personal matter. As such, your service becomes tailored and exclusive which is exactly what guests are looking for.

Connoisseurship and aesthetics

It’s not enough to hire a firm to decorate your property with the latest furnishings. There needs to be a strong element of purpose and passion behind every aspect of your hotel. As Marc Aeberhard put it, hoteliers need to “walk the talk” because luxury travelers want facts – they want what is true to a place. This is excellent news for luxury boutique hoteliers because guests will celebrate the new small luxury over the big brand with standard service.

These five parameters are the backbone of luxury travel and hospitality in the future, and you’ll want to consider them in every detail of your business.

What are your thoughts about the future of luxury travel and hospitality? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jamie Patterson

Jamie believes that playing host to guests from far and wide enriches the soul. Especially when it means having a full hotel. Born to entrepreneurial parents, she’s passionate about business growth. With a decade of traditional and digital marketing work behind her, she’s joined trivago to demystify metasearch and hotel marketing for you. One blog post at a time.

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