2019: The year of ultra-personalization for upscale travellers
In its Luxe Report for 2019, Virtuoso makes it clear that travel in the coming year will be highly personalized and inspired by a desire to experience new destinations in unusual ways.
Virtuoso gathered responses to the new survey from its agencies and advisors in 50 countries, including from 185 locations in Canada, in order to forecast what the coming year will bring.
From specific seat numbers on planes and hotel room numbers to particular rental car types, travellers are more vocal about their precise preferences. Nothing is left to chance, as increasingly clients ask for prearranged meals and appointments. They are seeking not just restaurant reservations, but exact tables at in-demand hot spots, as well as preordering wine to accompany the meal. They also ask their advisor to book sessions with hairdressers, massage therapists and even tattoo artists.
And through its Luxe Report, Virtuoso uncovered five trends – all with an overarching movement toward personalization – shaping how Canada’s most affluent travellers will roam the world in 2019.
Social media’s influence is unmistakable, as it drives travellers’ 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 content, including replicating shots they admired online. Virtuoso advisors are arranging themed photoshoots characteristic of destinations, such as wearing traditional geisha attire in Kyoto or ball gowns in Venice.
When flying commercial, airlines with state-of-the-art business and first-class cabins are a favourite. Upon landing, VIP airport arrival services that whisk travellers through customs and ease tight connections are growing in demand. Requests are on the rise for private helicopter transfers to and from airports, as well as from one city or resort island to another.
Experiential travellers who have seen it all are craving stays in unconventional accommodations. Those range from a treehouse to a monastery to an igloo in Norway, a tent in the Moroccan desert, the shores of the Red Sea, and even a bubble nestled in nature so they can gaze at stars before drifting off to sleep.
People want to explore their passions through bucket-list experiences. Sports fans are asking for tickets to major events such as the Olympics, Super Bowl 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. Music lovers are booking trips to summer festivals and concerts. Advisors are also arranging private dinners with influential local figures.
Travellers are expressing heightened interest in animal-related experiences. Some request visits to animal protection facilities or to observe animals in the wild, such as whale-watching and viewing rhinos at close range. Some want to interact more directly with animals, such as at the Giraffe House in Nairobi or dogsledding to the North Pole. They also exhibit concern for animal welfare and want to ensure that interactions are sustainable.
Virtuoso’s director, business strategy, Canada, Tim Morgan observed that: “Virtuoso travel advisors are unique in the industry, as their elite clientele set the pace for other travellers with their preference for cutting-edge destinations and experiences. As the professionals who design journeys for Canada’s luxury travellers, Virtuoso advisors spot coming trends such as ultra-personalization at a very early stage and share that knowledge in the Luxe Report.”
Crossing off bucket-list items is the prevailing travel motivator for Canadians in 2019, and Croatia tops their list of emerging destinations after finishing second to Iceland in 2018.
Italy continues its reign as the top global destination, as well as the leader for honeymoons; it also finished in the top five in the Millennial travel and family travel categories.
In all, a total of 1,071 travel advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated agencies in Canada as well as the US, Latin America, Asia Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East were surveyed for the global version of the report, drawing on their vast experience, as well as client requests to provide insight into 2019’s hottest trends.
Go to www.virtuoso.com for more.