At Virtuoso show, discussing what makes luxury travelers tick

At Virtuoso show, discussing what makes luxury travelers tick
Photo Credit: Maridav/Shutterstock

LAS VEGAS -- Affluent people do leisure travel for a variety of reasons, but all are tied to the way travel makes them feel, whether that's relaxed or like they've connected with their family members, according to Virtuoso.

Misty Belles, managing director of global public relations for Virtuoso, discussed that and other facets of how affluent travelers plan and travel during a press conference Monday at Virtuoso Travel Week at the Bellagio.

"Regardless of age or location, the affluent feel that travel is very important in their lives," Belles said, citing the results of a joint study by Virtuoso and public opinion and data company YouGov.

According to the study, 73% of affluent travelers 18-34 said travel is extremely important to them. That was mirrored in other age groups (75% of ages 35-44, 72% of ages 45-54 and 73% of ages 55-64).

The reasons they travel are, in order, relaxation, a family vacation, cultural, nature/eco-tourism and romantic getaways, Belles said. Those reasons vary a bit by region. In the U.S., relaxation and family travel are tied for first place, followed by cultural, adventure, romantic getaways and celebrations.

All of those reasons are connected to the way that kind of travel makes a person feel, Belles said (for instance, relaxed, or connected to nature).

Most affluent travelers will take 2-4 domestic trips this year. Nearly half will take 1-2 international trips.

According to Belles, domestic, short-haul trips are on the rise, up from 3.3 to 3.6 per year. 

Luxury consumers will spend on average $9,897 per year on travel. When segmenting the data and looking just at travelers advised by Virtuoso advisors, that jumps to $20,645 per year.

For U.S. travelers, the top five destinations for September-December 2019 are the U.S., Italy, the U.K., France and South Africa.

As for how travelers budget for their travels, Belles said 35% set an annual budget, 35% save per trip and 28% have no plan. 

During a panel at the press conference, advisor Anne Scully of McCabe World Travel in McLean, Va., said the emotional factors behind travel dictate how advisors should treat clients.

"As a travel advisor, you have to be a really good listener," Scully said.

Advisors should consider what their clients are feeling based on what they're saying and, in turn, take a "deep dive" into those emotions to create truly meaningful travel experiences.

Charlotte Harris of Charlotte Travel in Hong Kong agreed. In Hong Kong, for cultural reasons, it's often difficult for clients to explain themselves and who they really are, she said. That leaves it up to the advisor to pick up on context clues. For instance, if they're dressed in clearly branded clothing, it's probably a good idea to incorporate shopping into their trip. Or if their phone's background is a picture of a dog, intuit that they're dog lovers and plan something around that.

"We take little details from the clients that we've had and that we've met, and make sure that we translate that to their travels," she said.


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