Some of the surprising travel trends amongst the top 1%.
Reasons for travel have always been as varied as the locations to which we travel. This holds even more true for luxury travelers as the 1% have the means and increasingly want to maximize every voyage beyond its fundamental purpose. As travel reasons, trends, and even globetrotters themselves have evolved, varying motivations for leaving home have become more intertwined. The old question of 'Business or Pleasure?' has almost become obsolete. More and more of our high net worth membership want to authentically experience the places in which they do business, and their relaxation often incorporates inspiration.
Also, as Millennials and Generation Z increasingly make up more of the luxury travel demographic, their priorities are influencing the market. Generally known to focus on personal values and global responsibility, they strive to be ethical, conscious visitors to the far-flung locations they crave. Driven by purpose and technologically advanced, they want to see the world without leaving a carbon footprint, and they know how to do their research. Brands and destinations that ignore these emerging priorities do so at their peril. As such, the goal is not just to use one’s time on the road for multiple purposes, but to do so in a way that leaves the world a better place.
Increasingly, travelers want to integrate wellness or self-discovery into their journeys, regardless of their purpose. The trend of 'bleisure' ('business' plus 'leisure') is on the rise as technology allows a work / life balance to become reality. With wifi and co-working options ubiquitous, there’s never a need to turn on the 'out of office.' True, bringing one’s laptop along to Tuscany may seem like a buzzkill, and it may feel unnecessarily enthusiastic to book a bike tour before a client meeting in another city; however, the trade-off can be longer, more frequent getaways, and more time with friends and family.
As a recent example, an Insignia member was travelling to Vancouver for business that required his presence from Thursday through to Friday lunch time. Through our suggestion, the member’s son joined him late afternoon Friday. Not content to do a simple sight-seeing tour, the father and son were dropped onto Vancouver Island with little but the bare essentials, tasked with navigating their way to civilization over the course of the weekend (of course, with many safety precautions and an expert tracking team mitigating their risk). The resulting bonding experience, forged at the end of a business trip, left them with a lifetime of memories.
Beyond just combining business and leisure, today’s luxury traveler is also looking for ways to upskill when they’re away from home. Not content to just simply lay out on a beach, travelers want to fully experience a location through interacting with local artisans and experts. These aren’t your typical resort arts and crafts program, though, but specialist skills and subjects intended to provide a richer involvement of the local culture. Rather than just seeing a place, visitors want to engage with it, and upskilling is one way to do so. Case in point, the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman offers the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, where families can be introduced to the cultural and natural treasures of the island. Through a living classroom, guest not only increase their scientific knowledge, but also about being a good global citizen.
When today’s luxury traveler does want downtime, though, they’re no longer simply looking to 'veg out.' With the rise in mindful awareness, more spas, hotels and resorts are offering proactive relaxation and centering services and classes that enable guests to take the experience home with them. Mindfulness lends itself particularly well to new travel trends. As the multi-tasking nature of 'bleisure' takes hold, and travelers shift from laptop to surfboard from one moment to the next, it is increasingly important to be truly present from one moment to the next. At Insignia we always recommend an endeavor that is tailored to the member and authentic to the destination, such as yoga on the beach in Southern California or hiking in the Alps.
The ability to fully engage with one’s surroundings, be it through work / life balance or higher consciousness, is the new luxury. Possessions have given way to experiences, and 'all-work-no-play' has given way to a holistic, healthy approach. At Insignia, we recognize that elevated travel is central to this shift. We look forward to working with our members on increasingly unique ways to optimize their lifestyles, both at home and abroad.
Richard Lewis is USA President of luxury concierge, Insignia, and Managing Director, New Markets