Shifting notion of luxury in travel

Shifting notion of luxury in travel

Nowadays, travellers are increasingly looking for travel experiences that help set the stage for self-actualisation and personal transformation and growth. They want more than a simple visit to a new destination or days spent relaxing on a beach.

Throughout the world market, travel aspirations are undergoing a change and the definition of luxury is no longer limited to opulence alone. Apart from traditional perceptions, luxury experiences now carry a more multi-layered meaning, at the centre of which lies self-actualisation. As per a 2018, Skift Trends Report, travellers today are increasingly looking for travel experiences that help set the stage for self-actualisation and personal transformation and growth, which travellers are seeking through a more personal experience. They want more than a simple visit to a new destination or days spent relaxing on a beach. Instead, the travel they are seeking is an experience of the world that goes deep-one that change them in ways they may not even be aware of.

According to an Allied Market Research report, the global luxury travel market may garner up to $1,154 billion by 2022 and the India market will form a significant slice of this pie with an expected compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent as reported by Amadeus.

Cookie-cutter itineraries are passe

India is one of the fastest growing outbound travel markets in the world, second only to China, making Indians a well-travelled and well-informed lot. It comes as no surprise when the Indian traveller is veering away from the path well-trodden and looking beyond the standard run-of-the-mill offerings.

This change is reflective in family travel and individual travel alike. Fuelling this change in customer mindset is the changing demographics of the Indian landscape, helping redefine the notions of luxury for the average Indian family:

  • India's pace-setting 7 per cent GDP growth rate has resulted in increased personal disposable income of middle and upper class households making available to them previously out of reach travel options.
  • There is a burgeoning youth population comprising of millennials and Generation Z who are driven by exploratory, experiential or responsible tourism.
  • Internet access has crossed the 50-crore milestone in India as per the latest data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The increased penetration of the optical fibre network has created a substantial impact with social media influencing aspiring travellers. Authentic traveller photos and riveting travel stories posted online drive demand for unique.

Exclusive and Exploratory: The New Buzz Words

According to a 2017 Skift survey covering over 12,000 affluent customers across the US, the UK, China, Mexico and the UAE, two thirds of the surveyed agreed that "luxury goods and services are about differentiating them from others".

By that definition, material wealth is no longer the only differentiator of status which makes luxury consumerism's implications vast. The status is not so much restricted to affluence anymore but how much more creative, ethical, tasteful and adventurous one is in relation to others. The attainment of experiences which express an individual's self-best is driving today's traveller and redefining the very concept of luxury.

Private family moments are becoming priceless

Time-crunched families today are seeking exclusive locations, villas and activities where they can indulge in some uninterrupted and meaningful family bonding.

Fleeting Family Time

As per a Pew Research Centre study in 2015, there is a stark increase in the number of families where both spouses work. With advancement of technology, switching off is that much more difficult and working hours spill well into what was earlier set aside as 'family-time'. Full-time working parents feel as if they spend too little time with their children. The Ikea Play Report 2014, done across 12 countries including India, suggests time-starved Indian parents are most stressed and guilt-ridden about not spending enough time with their children.

Dwindling me-time

With the many stress points of city life, there is a higher rate of burn out in generation Y and youth with little or no opportunity to unwind and rejuvenate. Men and women, and young mothers more so, complain of not having enough leisure time.

Technology driving tailor-made luxury choices

The ubiquitous smartphone is throwing up envy-inducing authentic travel options on booking platforms, helping users to experience their own exclusive brand of luxury. Travel apps and social media are tapping into the two biggest motivators in today's times: Luxury and tuning the chaotic world out. A recent surge in luxury vacation rental business is hitting the sweet spot by combining these two motivators. Research and markets predict that the global vacation rental market will close in on $170 billion by 2019. They are soaring in popularity for making available private villas, providing amenities befitting a five star, coming replete with value-added benefits and tranquillity inducing comfort.

Whether selecting a sun-and-sand beach holiday home, one with a verdant biking trail, or one located close to a theme park; the implicit goal of luxurious exclusivity is what is driving the travel segment.

(The writer is co-founder of SaffronStays)