DIY Luxury: Trends for Big Travel Spenders

20 February 2014

A recent Google study takes us inside the habits of luxury travelers. They are spending more time than ever online planning their vacations and making some purchasing decisions that may surprise you. Knowing what they’ve been looking for online will help you package high-end reasons for them to get off the ship or out of the hotel suite and go do something luxurious.

Source: Ipsos MediaCT, Google Travel Study, May to June 2013

Seventy percent of affluent travelers are researching for trips online

Luxury travelers are using search engines more and relying less on offline sources for making travel plans -- a full two out of three will Google before turning to a magazine or friend. When they are looking to get inspired about a place, they value the internet equally with the almighty word-of-mouth recommendation, but note that while seven out of ten affluent travelers cite a travel agent as very important in the inspiration phase, only one in five uses them in the booking phase.

“What to do” top priority in choosing where to go

Rest and relaxation is yielding to more active itineraries for nearly all travelers. For the luxury set, this means packages that include a lot of reasons to leave the hotel room. According to the 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report, “Destination” is the number one factor in choosing a vacation, followed by “Once-in-a-lifetime Experiences.” They continue to seek custom itineraries with “bucket list” caliber experiences.

Source: Ipsos MediaCT, Google Travel Study, May to June 2013.

“Activities specific to my interest” is their most important factor when choosing a destination, followed by “new experiences”; these answers are up from years past when rest and relaxation and culture topped the list, reflecting growth of experiential and adventure travel within the luxury segment. While 57 percent of affluent travelers still use face-to-face concierge services on the ground to recommend activities once they’re at their destination, 52 percent use the destination’s website or app to make decisions. Again, a lot of this online research is happening before they even the leave the house.

Fifty-five percent watch travel videos online

You already know about the viral nature of videos. You’ll be happy to know that affluent travelers are more likely to watch your brand video online than vacation videos posted by family and friends. They trust brands, engaging with videos produced directly from airlines, hotels and operators more than travel experts, travel channels and their peers. Sixty-two percent watch videos when they’re choosing accommodations; 64 percent when choosing a destination; and 67 percent when they’re looking for activities to do when they get there. After watching a travel video online, nine out of 10 are prompted to action -- to consider a new brand, to visit a new website, to decide on a destination or to actually start the booking process.

Looking for more than just a place to stay

Keywords for what high-end travelers are looking for in a place to stay are ‘boutique,’ ‘private’ and ‘authentic’. The trend is toward experience over status. This means that they are less likely to upgrade their hotel room than they are to keep their room and use that money to book a day trip or private excursion. When it comes to upgrading amenities, nearly 50 percent of respondents in a Euromonitor International Survey said they would pay extra for an activity that got them out of the hotel. A surprising find in Google’s study is that many affluent travelers don’t mind getting out of hotels completely: nearly half of travelers polled plan on booking a peer-to-peer sharing service like Airbnb or Zipcar. They are spending less to have richer, more authentic experiences.

So, no more static pictures of white, fluffy linens. Luxury is now an action word. Create an experience, make a video, and get it out there for these affluent seekers to find.