Travelers in 2020 are seizing the day and prioritising trips now, powered by the belief that customised experiences are the best investment of their money and time, according to the latest Virtuoso Luxe Report.
Global luxury travel network Virtuoso annually surveys its industry-leading travel agency members and their advisor sales force across 50 countries to predict what lies ahead in the coming year.
Untouristed and Unexpected: With some favorite destinations seeing an untenable rise in demand, the well-travelled luxury set is seeking remote, unspoiled destinations to avoid crowds at over-touristed locales. Virtuoso advisors report a rise in requests for places ranging from the culturally distinct to those steeped in nature, including Borneo, Greenland and Oman.
Country Coupling: Travelers are heeding the advice of well-informed Virtuoso advisors, who encourage clients to explore multiple countries, even during shorter journeys. Trips that mix locales are trending, especially ones with surprising combinations. Travellers may pair a ski adventure with a beach finale, or a city stay with a jungle adventure or a well-travelled place followed by a little-known spot to mingle with locals. The focus is on varied experiences that enrich the trip with each stop.
Tasty Travels: Culinary travel has transcended “trend” to become its own niche, with amazing food and drink now considered essential to any trip. Cooking classes, eating in private homes, Michelin-starred restaurants, farm-to-table visits, truffle hunting – culinary experiences are as varied as travellers themselves, and allow foodies to go beyond just having a seat at the table. Dining has become such a focus that some travellers are requesting restaurant reservations at the same time they book their flights – sometimes even before.
Group Getaways: Travel unites those who share common interests, and Virtuoso advisors say clients want to connect with like-minded people. Gen X-ers, Boomers and even Matures are travelling to bond with friends and others who share their passions or are at the same life stage. Women’s travel is on the rise as well, including soft adventure trips and affluent girl getaways to unplug, relax and play. Groups of couples are also travelling together, including buddymoons, where newlyweds bring pals along for the fun.
EQ Encounters: Today’s traveller is seeking more profound experiences leading to increased emotional intelligence. Pushing beyond their comfort zone combined with genuine interaction among locals provides travellers with a deeper appreciation for the people and cultures they encounter. Foregoing the usual attractions, Virtuoso clients are instead opting to tap into their passions, such as a tasting with the owner of a local winery, a motorcycle tour or a personal shopper to guide them through the latest pop-up stores. They also want accommodations that reflect the destination – inns full of character, small neighbourhood hotels and private homes.
Enjoying the Journey: Embracing the philosophy that the journey is half the fun, upscale voyagers are using exclusive services including meet-and-greets planeside to avoid the stress of changing terminals, locating gates, or waiting in customs lines. The Private Suite at Los Angeles International Airport offers a members-only terminal where travellers are escorted through TSA screenings, driven to and from aircraft in BMWs and provided a room to relax in between flights.
Rest and relaxation is the key motivation for British travellers in 2020, rising three places to take the top slot from seeking authentic experiences. Multigenerational travel is the top trend of the year, with last year’s number one selection, adventure travel, falling to fifth place.
A total of 1,300 travel advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East took the Luxe Report survey, drawing on their extensive knowledge, professional experience and client requests to offer insight into 2020’s top trends.