Once known for its carefully created opulence and resplendence using high-quality materials in furnishings and design, fresh perspectives centered on experiences and emotional connectivity are invigorating the sector and demanding creative responses from destinations, hoteliers and travel management companies.
Hospitality and travel professional sponsors of the renowned MICE Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress, organized by Dubai-based QnA International, agree that experiences which assist in the making and retelling a story are a key requirement amongst luxury travel seekers.
“Consumers are becoming less interested in thread-count, caviar and other material objects and more interested in experiences. New luxury is about offering guests more authentic, genuine experiences unfettered by specific brand or quality standards like thread counts,” according to Francois Kassab, COO, Millennium & Copthorne, Middle East & Africa.
“There is a need for authenticity in all experiences which should convey the idea of a destination and its history, traditions, and culture,” said Arianna Pradella, commercial director, Caldana Travel Service Utat Viaggi.
For many years, the luxury sector was defined by fantastically designed interiors encapsulated in secluded locations promising exclusivity, privacy, and serenity for discerning luxury travelers and competitors differentiated along these characteristics.
Kassab said: “Luxury MICE travellers expect a high standard of service, fine finishes, exquisite products, incredible designs and little touches to already be in place in five-star hotels. What will set brands apart moving forward are personalized service and craftsmanship as well as an interesting story to tell.”
Meanings attributed to exclusivity include the need for more customized and personalized approaches to tailormade travel programs and service, said Jason Lim, COO, DMC, Smailing Tours & Travel Service, Bali, Indonesia.
Clients have to be consulted in the developing of these tailormade packages and travel professionals are expected to and should be experts in their destinations. Inclusivity is a key trend in the luxury tourism sector, and technological advancements such as the use of apps have shown to assist in including clients’ requirements and needs during their stay.
Others opined he luxury travel sector has always been insulated from economic fluctuations and would continue to be so.
“Differentiating and responding to emerging trends in the luxury tourism sector is becoming quite challenging, as there are those that are aspiring towards affordable luxury and high-net worth individuals seeking experiences of a lifetime that would last and even change their lives,” said Sidh N C, director, QnA International.