An Exploration of Luxury Travel in Today's Market
The word ‘Luxury’ had always been synonymous with the very best that money could buy. Exclusive, indulgent, opulent. Chandeliers hanging from gilded hotel bars, hands sporting Cartier or Patek Philipe sipping vintage champagne. The luxury of yesterday: over-indulgent and ostentatious.
So what is luxury in today’s market? More and more it would seem that people are no longer content with just the ‘destination’ but to use an old cliché, it is more about the journey. People are hungry for personal experiences and encounters that crucially, they can share. We are discerning, hyper-connected people, but we still like to identify as individuals.
“For me it is not at all about opulence.” says Olivia. “Luxury for me would be a spiritual pilgrimage up a mountain with a monk in Japan.”
Darius agrees and explains that he believes it’s best summed up simply by not having to compromise. “12 hours on a bike can be grueling and our customers often use words like that: ‘spiritual’ or ‘pilgrimage’. For us it’s important that every touch point feels luxury. But luxury can be as simple as just enabling people to do exactly what they want; with what they need to do it.”
There is no doubt that social media, and in particular Instagram, has been a huge contributing factor to the popularity of destinations worldwide. There are now 60 million photos shared every day and out of the top 100 brands in the world, just over 90% have an Instagram account.
Visitors to Trolltunga in Norway between 2009 and 2014, increased from 500 people to 40,000, in a wave of what many attribute to social media-fuelled tourism, and both Olivia and Darius agree it has had a huge impact on their businesses and destinations.
The problem for Darius with social media for the kinds of trips that Rapha organise, is that “there is no way of accurately describing how good the trips are via an Instagram or Facebook post.”
And when it comes to the impact of this social media fueled tourism, Olivia says that is it “is really complex … It can have such positive impact and yet such negative effects at the same time.”
When it comes to trends, both Darius and Olivia agree that the rise in adventure travel and these ‘less trodden’ destinations is something we will continue to see. “Our lives have gotten so comfortable and convenient” says Olivia “that people want that sense of adventure.”
As for the future of luxury travel, one thing is clear. Companies will need to continue to become more creative, more personal, and more immersive, to meet these changing ideas of luxury.