Virtuoso chief on experiential and multigen travel trends

By Jeri Clausing

*logoThe newest look at luxury travel trends shows a continuing surge in demand for experiences that can’t be found in guidebooks.

Whether that means seeking out new resorts and adventures in tried-and-true destinations or venturing to emerging hotspots, Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch says the newest data from its members shows luxury consumers want to absorb more of the local culture and are seeking a certain “feeling” rather than basing destination choices on what to see and do.JeriClausing 

“There is a race towards trying to get to some of the more pristine places because of the rise in mass tourism and globalization,” Upchurch said in a statement from the group’s annual meeting in Las Vegas this week, where the latest trends and top luxe destinations were unveiled. “The opening up of some of the new, nontraditional destinations that we’ve identified offer even more incentive for travelers to explore.”

Upchurch said the data shows luxury travelers are planning travel as much as a year in advance, while also booking impulse trips.

Virtuoso also said it has identified an evolution in family and multigenerational travel: using family travel to supplement traditional education for children. Virtuoso is calling this trend the Journey to Global Citizenship.

Upchurch says the desire to connect and build lasting memories as a family is still driving the high demand for multi-generational travel, but he says parents and grandparents are looking at travel as a means of giving the next generation a leg up in the world.

“One of the smartest things you can do, if you have the means, is take your kids to China or India or Brazil,” Upchurch said. “These countries will influence much of the business being done now and in the future, and kids who have insight into these cultures, who learn to adapt in unfamiliar surroundings early on, and who gain an understanding of the world around them, will have a certain advantage when it’s time to enter the workforce.”

Virtuoso also said that data from its more than $32 billion in client transactions shows that international travel is up 21% compared with the same time last year, and travel to Virtuoso’s 10 most popular destinations — Italy, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Spain, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, the Netherlands and Greece — are averaging an 18% uptick.

The countries seeing the largest year-over-year growth are New Zealand, Chile, Indonesia, Hungary, Hong Kong, Croatia, Australia, Ecuador, Greece and Norway.

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