The days of operators “dictating what customers wanted” from a luxury holiday are behind us, with today’s high-end holidaymaker preferring a more emotionally driven, value-focused booking process.
That was the message from a panel of luxury suppliers, travel analysts and branding experts at Abta’s Luxury Travel Conference in London last week.
Kerry Golds, UK managing director, Abercrombie & Kent, said she believed “the consumer is the one who defines what luxury means these days”, adding: “It’s up to us to look at those drivers – we’ve seen over time how things have changed.”
Golds outlined a burgeoning demographic for A&K – the “Henry” (high-earning, not rich yet) traveller, aged 30-40.
“It’s who we’re focusing all our marketing towards,” she shared. “They are high net-worth people who want adventure and flexibility, but also want to do so in luxury.
“We speak to them differently and package the product differently – we do that with each demographic.
“We do have more traditional customers, but people shouldn’t be pigeonholed when it comes to luxury.”
Gold’s view was echoed by data from Marloes De Vries, travel analyst at Mintel, who outlined a consumer “after good value for money, flexible itineraries and amazing experiences”.
De Vries said around 70% of luxury consumers studied by Mintel in the last year wanted “a learning experience” as part of their trip, while 64% flew economy to reach their destination.
She also revealed 77% of over-55s luxury travellers were after offers.
Despite a cost-orientated mindset, luxury travellers were more likely to use a travel agent, De Vries added.
Advising delegates how to attract and retain high-value consumers, Beth Taubner, founder and creative director of brand agency Mercurylab, told agents to “dig into passions” of clients during the booking process.
“Get to know their tastes… the more you know, the more valuable your service becomes,” she said.
Sarah Buchanan, cluster director of sales and marketing for the Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch, also stressed the value of “more emotional intelligence” from travel advisors when dealing with high-earning clients.