When luxury becomes average: the boom of luxury travel

 

Despite the current volatility in our global economy, the number of luxury tour operators has been rising in the last few years; more and more people prefer to experience the type of personalised service that luxury hotels and bespoke tour companies have to offer. Hotels are no longer a comfortable place to sleep at a chosen destination, they are increasingly becoming an essential part of the travel experience. The standardisation and uniformity brought by hotel chains are losing their appeal, and whilst hotel chains are still the choice of most business travellers, holiday goers are looking for something extra – for character, for personality and for personalisation. It is human nature the need to be different, and luxury services offer anyone the opportunity to feel special.

The problem with high demand in the luxury industry is that what was once exclusive becomes average, which means that standardisation and uniformity return, and we enter a vicious circle. What was once bespoke becomes standard and what was once extra becomes expected.

The word ‘luxury’ is overused and has lost its meaning. It has become synonymous with quality, not affluence or indulgence. Nowadays, any chauffeur offers luxury tours, tour operators get bespoke and luxury mixed up and the customer is the one who doesn’t know the difference in the end.

New words have been used to try to classify different types of luxury; ‘ultra-luxury’ and ‘ultra-travel’ are now mainstream terms.  What differentiates a luxury tour operator from an ultra-luxury operator is more than the money you will spend; it’s knowledge and exclusivity.

Take the UK-based company Loyd Townsend Rose (LTR) as an example. Customers can arrive by helicopter at their chosen private castle, and have their own private chef and staff. Activities are organised according to the customer’s wish and many of them would have been impossible without their local knowledge and contacts. International customers can hire private estates and exclusive houses for the London Olympics. There is luxury travel and there is ultra-luxury travel.

We are going through a fascinating period in the history of tourism, our buying behaviour is changing, more people are saving for special moments and looking for unique experiences. Consumers are expecting more quality and spending on what it’s worth. There is a whole side of luxury that we are yet to discover.

Renata Parolari Fernandes is Founder, Director and Editor of Five Star Magazine.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Kali says:

    There are major shifts now with luxury being available for everyone with all these discount deals on websites. Luxury is now in reach for everyone.

  2. Even with the downturn in the economy, there are segments are the population that still seek to reach a level above their means. Also, the endless deals cropping up everywhere add to the illusion everyone can live a life of luxury. It truly does become watered down. Thanks for the post.

  3. The same thing is happening within the real estate business: all of a sudden all apartments and villas are luxury properties, in most cases this generally means good quality construction. However, real luxury can only be associated with a limited number of homes for sale and a handful of construction companies, Luxury Homes by VAPF being one of the few Spanish companies specializing in top end property design, construction and materials.

  4. Carole Booth says:

    A really interesting article that I didn’t get chance to read first time around.

    I suppose its important to remember that the concept of luxury means one thing to one person and something else to another, its an undefined entity but something that everyone has a rough idea what it actually amounts to.

    Luxury tour operators are becoming more flexible to the needs of their customers and those aren’t just empty words, I genuinely believe that hotels are becoming more accessible in return, making luxury experiences more accessible to a wider audience.

    Just because luxury can be affordable does not devalue it in any way, of course there are different levels of luxury but you have to draw a line somewhere and say this isn’t just a good hotel, this is a luxury hotel.

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