With the recent unlocking of non-essential shops and the next staging post set for the 17 May (in England), all eyes are now on when we will be able to travel again, and in turn the return of the international traveller, on whom UK luxury retail as much as the travel industry, depends.
The global picture may still be uncertain, but in the UK what is clear is the pent-up demand for travel further afield, despite the discovery for many, of the beauty and variety of the British Isles over the past year. The Boston Consulting Luxury Customer Report showed that 60% of top tier luxury customers say they can’t wait to travel again, and for journeys abroad, short haul is expected to bounce back before long-haul and leisure travel, and long before business travel, as companies work out their new strategy.
But once we are moving again, what will change and what innovations and insights can the luxury travel market can take forward from the last 14 months? Trends we’ve seen take hold include flexibility in cancellation policies, last-minute bookings, longer stays, private jet use and large groups creating ‘bubbles’ within bookings.
The geography of travel will be shaped by local restrictions at any given time, of course, but increasingly serviced by integrated door-to-private-jet-to-door journeys for the luxury consumer. And much of the industry adaptation will continue to revolve around the individuality of the customer, the renewal of a savouring of the travel experience and the desire for thoughtful, memorable journeys where every detail is considered.
Creativity shown by consumers in their requests during the pandemic will likely translate into innovation in product lines, as well as helping to meet demands for sustainability, personalisation and safety – while trust in brands will continue to be important around the level and implementation of Covid health and safety protocols, something that will be a fundamental priority for months, possibly years, to come.
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