The Changing Business of Selling Luxury Travel

by Greg Oates + Skift Team - Sep 2015

Skift Research Take

Driven by shifting consumer profiles and a demand for personalized discovery, luxury travel is evolving beyond its traditional parameters. Luxe travel brands are meeting these needs by developing more nuanced options for immersive destination experiences so consumers can customize their entire travel journey.

Report Overview

Selling luxury travel today is all about options. Luxury travel brands are delivering more immersive, personalized travel experiences targeting a broader consumer base by age, source markets, and evolving traveler psychographics.

The surging expansion of global wealth worldwide, the emergence of new inbound and outbound markets, and new generation of highly critical, well-educated consumers are forcing the luxury travel segment to undergo unprecedented disruption. The sector is redefining itself and what the definition of luxury is. This report examines how some of today’s most forward-thinking travel brands are recrafting their value propositions in the luxury market today.

After speaking with many senior executives working in the tourism, hospitality, tour operator and cruise verticals, there are commonalities around how they’re selling their products to the luxe traveler of the future. The result of that can be succinctly identified as the “5 C’s of Luxury Travel” that work in unison to engage consumers physically and emotionally, online and in-destination, pre/post and during.

Those 5 C’s of Luxury Travel are: Culture, Cuisine, Community, Content and Customization. Regardless of the actual travel product or destination, these five combined elements are the primary drivers of engagement in luxury travel worldwide. More specifically, the best luxury travel brands are integrating them holistically to create more visceral brand engagement and expand audience reach. None of the 5 C’s are new. How brands are integrating and leveraging the power of each in new ways is.

Culture refers to both local culture and the cultural arts. Cuisine is the common connector across all traveler types. Community and content revolve around the power of virtual storytelling and compelling travel programming to bring like-minded people together. Customization is, of course, the biggest trendline in travel to personalize the experience for the individual user.

There are many other trends that luxury travel sales and marketing teams have identified, naturally, ranging from the rise of multi-generational travel to the robust growth in river cruising, but those are sector and psychographic-specific. The 5 C’s of Luxury Travel impact every travel vertical and every consumer.