With totally different expectations from previous generations, what does the contemporary luxury traveller look for when selecting a holiday destination, and crucially what can luxury hotels do to accommodate these changing needs?
A recent report ‘A new Breed of Traveller’ by global hotel consultancy HVS highlights the danger the hospitality industry faces if it fails to understand and adapt to the changing demands of the contemporary luxury traveller.
We take a closer look at the 3 major factors driving these changes:
1.Rising Affluence. Changing Attitudes.
A major factor influencing this new breed of traveller is a shift in attitudes towards wealth, with importance and emphasis being placed increasingly on ‘time experiences’ rather than money. Unlike previous generations, millennials in particular no longer look to money as a means of demonstrating wealth, and certainly don’t regard five-star hotels as the only option. “Modern-day travellers are not looking for ‘rich’ luxury as such,” states Christoph Hoffmann, Founder and CEO of hotel group 25hours.
2.Globalisation Prompts The Search For Unique Experiences
Coupled with a move away from ostentation, modern-day travellers prize unique experiences and the story telling opportunities they provide. Increasingly, the further we travel the more frequently we’re reminded of home. As brands expand yet further into new territories, a certain amount of cultural homogenisation is unavoidable.
The effects of globalisation can be felt in the growing demand by travellers for unique experiences and personalisation, paradoxically this search for difference has created a global community of like-minded people sharing similar expectations. As a result, luxury travellers are ‘seeking hotels that are distinctive from others in style, design and service.’ No longer is there room for the standard or bland, however luxury it may be.
3.Technology: Integration Crucial At Every Stage Of The Customer Journey
Guests would much rather “participate than flaunt,” says Michael Tiedy, Senior Vice President Brand Design & Innovation at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Tiedy also observes that modern-day travellers prefer to take photos that can be posted to Facebook or ‘checking into’ local bars with friends. This shift in behaviour has a clear influence on purchasing decisions with the new luxury traveller seeking out hotel accommodation where they can ‘feel at home, connected and part of an experience.’
The huge role social media has to play in the purchasing path is perfectly demonstrated by the recent opening of Sydney’s 1888 Hotel. By putting social media at its core, the hotel claims to be the world’s most Instagrammable hotel, having had its interior designed specifically to be ‘Instagram friendly’. Paul Fischmann CEO of 8Hotels which owns 1888, echoes the report’s findings by saying “we thought we should embrace the fact that all modern travellers can take memories away with them using their smartphones and share their experience with friends.” The hotel even goes so far as to offer guests with more than 10,000 Instagram followers a free night’s stay.
Starwood Hotels have just made the industry-leading move of incorporating Instagram ‘Guest Galleries’ on all of its websites worldwide. With more than 1,150 hotels and over 40,000 guest-generated images per month Starwood is hoping that guests’ Instagram pictures serve as a powerful peer recommendation tool, providing travellers looking for inspiration with a sort of ‘visual seal of approval’.
Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President, Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital says “a picture is worth a thousand words and a picture shared is worth even more to our guests. Starwood’s mobile bookings are growing five times faster than the annual growth rate of the web channel 10 years ago. With an increasingly mobile, digital traveller we expect social sharing in places like our Instagram Guest Gallery pages will continue to change how our guests book travel and explore and interact with our hotels.”