Similar comments as the one below have been made recently on future travel trends, especially for the high end segment of the market.
How will this be reflected in online travel. It seems to me that a lot of products offered on the major websites are geared to the middle of the road market and the lower end, all in the name of “the lowest price wins.” With the largest growth in internet usage and online shopping being recorded in the affluent segment of the population, I see a certain disconnect between what these demanding travelers are looking for – increasingly on the web – and what the online travel players are offering.
It will be interesting to follow the development on this front. This seems to be the high margin market, where price is not the dominant factor, but the ease of the purchase experience, attractiveness of product presentation, or in other words – added value.
The Big Trend
Couples, especially families, will choose villa and private home rentals in lieu of booking a hotel stay. Frequent travelers value privacy and space and will skip big hotels for smaller, more personal stays. The newest crop of rental villas has every service that a hotel offers, such as housekeeping, a cook, a gardener and even a concierge. The new interest in villas fits in with the emergence of upscale vacation clubs, such as Exclusive Resorts, which is partly owned by Steve Case, and Abercrombie and Kent’s Destination Club, which is an ultra-luxurious club that allows members access to vacation homes and concierge villas anywhere in the world.
The Unconventional Wisdom
Adventure travel was the big trend a few years ago, but the new travel trend to watch is cultural travel. Food tours, especially throughout Italy, are hot and will continue to grow in popularity. We’ll also be seeing an increase in specialized tours which combine food, shopping and visiting art museums and galleries. Niche travel will also be big. Whether it’s a Star Trek convention, a sporting event, concert or film festival, people will be planning vacations around these events.
The Misplaced Assumption
Travelers do not want a cookie-cutter, one-sized-fits-all travel experience, especially when it comes to hotel rooms. Familiarity does not breed comfort–it breeds boredom. Hotels, especially the big luxury chains, are responding by tweaking hotels to have more of a boutique look, and to relate to their location. The new Ritz-Carlton in South Beach doesn’t look like every other Ritz. Instead, it has a distinctive Art Deco look that blends with the neighborhood. Expect to see more hotel customization in the next few years.