Experts note that luxury travel is moving from conspicuous consumption to more meaningful and experiential experiences.
Travel and vacations are one of the luxuries on which Ultra High Net Worth households will spend the bigger bucks annually. If these wealthy investors are going to spend between $25,000-$49,999 in a year's time, the largest percentage (14 percent) will spend it on travel or vacations, according to Spectrem Group’s wealth market research of investors with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million. Similarly, of the items on which UHNW households spent between $15,000 and $24,999, travel comprised the highest percentage (19 percent).
What are this year’s luxury travel trends? Where do the ultra-rich want to travel and what do they want to do when they get there? Experts note that luxury travel is moving from conspicuous consumption to more meaningful and experiential experiences. This is especially true for affluent Millennials. Nearly eight-in-ten choose to splurge on experience rather than “things,” reports Forbes magazine. They are also 23 percent more interested in traveling overseas than older generations and comprise one-in-five international tourists.
Harvey Chipkin, writing for travelmarketreport.com, got the scoop from several high-end travel professionals. Immersion is becoming a travel priority for UHNW travelers, according to Jack Ezon, president of New York-based Ovation travel. When they go to a restaurant, they don’t want to be seated with the other tourists; they want to rub shoulders with the locals. They want insiders to guide them to the hottest (and coolest) nightspots.
Traditionally, people like to plan out their travel itineraries. Chipkin reports that some households are wont to work with their travel agents in creating five-year travel plans. But some can afford to rely on a kind of consultative kismet. Chipkin reports that one couple spending $100,000 on their honeymoon are taking it day-by-day and consulting with their travel agent about what to do next.
There is also a growing interest in artisanship. One operator of Italian tours told Chipkin that there is increased interest in travelers creating their own local product such as a personalized wine or perfume.
Another luxury trend, courtesy of Susan Farewell of Farewell Travels in Westport, CT, is socially responsible close encounters, such as a non-exploitative (meaning no riding) elephant experience in Southeast Asia. Luxury Travel magazine reports that Soneva Resorts, Maldives, offers volunteer opportunities to work alongside tropical ecologists and marine biologists.
Some experiences may be truly once-in-a-lifetime. World Travel Market reports that another luxury travel trend falls under the heading of “Last Chance to See It.” The website predicts that this year will see a spike in visitors to Iceland, Norway or any country where you can see the Aurora Borealis, which may be on the downward end of their 11-year cycle. Experts project that the next time the Northern Lights can be observed at their peak could be around 2024 to 2026.