Taking the Pulse of the Luxury Travel Consumer

Luxury Beat
Despite economic headwinds and geopolitical instability, luxury consumers will continue to travel Remember what the travel industry looked like one year ago? Travelers were hitting the road in droves, spending their ballooning savings, and satisfying their long-suppressed desire to travel. A new variant of COVID was spreading rapidly. And labor shortages among travel suppliers were causing disruption and dissatisfaction with how service was being delivered. Sounds a lot like Summer 2022, doesn’t it? Of course, there are many differences between what’s happening right now and a year ago. Many of those differences are clear from the results of a survey I just completed in partnership with Affluent Consumer Research Company, headed by Chandler Mount. As we did one year ago, Chandler and I surveyed affluent U.S. consumers on their sentiments and plans for…
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The Resurgence of Luxury Cruising

Luxury Beat, Uncategorized
What We Can Learn From How Cruise Lines Staged A Comeback Two years ago, at the peak of the pandemic, it seemed nearly impossible that cruise lines would escape the cloud created by COVID, darkening their reputation in health and safety. Today, however, pent-up demand and skyrocketing hotel rates have primed the market for cruise lines to gain market share exponentially. Through better bundled values, high-end service, and adaptive health and safety protocols, the trajectory of cruise lines is incredibly well on the rise. Within the last 30 days, Strategic Vision and The Affluent Consumer Research Company surveyed over 900 U.S. adults aged 25+, with a household income of $250,000+. From this research, the overall intention to cruise is up 12% from 2021, with a respectable 33% increase among those who say…
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That Was a Heck of a Quarter

That Was a Heck of a Quarter

Luxury Beat
How the Ukraine war, inflation, and market volatility impacted us — and what’s next? Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Greetings from Saudi Arabia! I am visiting this unexpected destination to look at tourism development opportunities in Riyadh, Al-’Ula, Jeddah, and elsewhere. Saudi is fascinating, stunning, hospitable, and, from my Western perspective, very surprising. There are obviously very serious human rights concerns to take into consideration. But the country’s efforts to slowly open itself up to tourism has me thinking quite a bit about the future of our industry. More on that in a future column. For now, I am dwelling on the present, which is also surprising and stunning… for very different reasons. I am referring, of course, to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian and…
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What’s in Store For 2022 (It’s Not All Bad)

What’s in Store For 2022 (It’s Not All Bad)

Luxury Beat
Normally at this time of year I send you the results of our annual Pulse of the Industry Survey. This year, well, let’s just say that the pulse is a little bit hard to read at the moment. Once the patient stabilizes a bit (sorry to torture the metaphor) and there’s more clarity in the marketplace, we’ll survey our industry peers to understand their feelings about business and where it’s going. In the meantime, I have been speaking to a number of travel advisors about the current state of affairs and thought it worth sharing a few of the common threads I’m hearing. Not surprisingly, everyone wants to talk about the omicron variant and how travelers (and we) are reacting to it. The general consensus:  Travelers are feeling anxious and…
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How We Are Dealing With Hiring Challenges Right Now

How We Are Dealing With Hiring Challenges Right Now

Luxury Beat
Struggling to find people to fill your open positions – or that have the skills the job requires? You’re not alone. “How is the recovery going for your business?” For every 10 people in the travel industry that I ask that question, I get 10 different responses — and 10 different predictions as to what might happen next. But just about everyone agrees on one thing: Hiring has become very, very challenging. The so-called “Great Resignation” is happening across industries (and across the globe, if unevenly), and even if it’s somewhat exaggerated, it seems to be hitting travel, restaurants, and leisure especially badly. And the problem is global, as far as I can tell. In the U.S. the accommodation sector added 23,000 jobs in October — a huge jump from only…
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How Luxury Travelers Are Feeling (and Spending) Right Now

How Luxury Travelers Are Feeling (and Spending) Right Now

Luxury Beat
Our new survey takes the consumer's temperature at a crucial time for the industry... We are entering a pivotal moment in our industry’s recovery from the pandemic, with both good and bad news across the board. Vaccines have unleashed a huge amount of pent-up demand. Airplanes and hotels are packed, prices have risen, and employers are struggling to fill vacant positions. On the other hand, corporate and MICE still lag far behind the leisure recovery. And the delta variant (and others) are threatening to put a halt to all our progress. As travel advisors and industry executives plan and implement their Q4 initiatives and refine their 2022 forecasts, I wanted to take the temperature of the luxury traveler consumer at this critical juncture. What trips are they planning now? Where…
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The Lessons We’ve Learned (And Are Still Learning)

The Lessons We’ve Learned (And Are Still Learning)

Luxury Beat
The great news from Europe last Wednesday, that the European Union will allow vaccinated vacationers back this summer, could not have come at a better time as there is no doubt we are seeing and hearing of booking momentum. Everyone I talk to is focused on forward bookings, staffing challenges, and other immediate-term issues. It’s an exciting time, if still chaotic and frustrating. It’s important to keep one eye on the future, as we build for coming success. What are the broader lessons we’ve learned in the past year-and-change that are worth holding onto? What wisdom can we use for our businesses in the future, but also guide our everyday thinking? I was fortunate enough to hear from many of our industry’s top minds at a recent virtual travel leadership…
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The pandemic’s not over, so how should we talk about it? Why innovative messaging is so critical to engage your customer.

The pandemic’s not over, so how should we talk about it? Why innovative messaging is so critical to engage your customer.

Luxury Beat
This must be what Purgatory feels like. One year after the first lockdowns, travel is still stuck in the in-between: much better than the catastrophe of 2020, but not quite ready to celebrate yet. For every reason to be hopeful — an uptick in bookings, progress with vaccinations, talks about global health passports — there is a reason for continued caution. As of this writing, about 18% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and just shy of 10% have had both. With progress this gradual, many consumers are still hesitant to make plans. Those sentiments were a theme at an industry roundtable I co-hosted last month with Jack Ezon, Founder and Managing Partner of Embark Beyond. Many of the travel executives in attendance shared a mix…
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Luxury Travelers Are Ready to Get Back on the Road in 2021 — a Potential Comeback Driven By Vaccines and Pent-Up Demand

Luxury Travelers Are Ready to Get Back on the Road in 2021 — a Potential Comeback Driven By Vaccines and Pent-Up Demand

Luxury Beat
More optimists than pessimists in Strategic Vision’s 2021 Pulse of the Industry Survey, which measured the post-pandemic travel outlook of both luxury travelers and travel advisors. Trending this year: Europe, safaris, domestic trips. Cruises and staycations? Not so much.  A new study of consumers and professional travel advisors shows a net positive outlook for the luxury travel industry in 2021. Slightly more consumers feel optimistic about their leisure travel plans for this year than pessimistic, and luxury travel advisors see their business returning, albeit slowly, in 2021. The affluent consumers in the survey, conducted by Strategic Vision, a consultancy specializing in the luxury travel and lifestyle industries, are intently focused on how they can get back on the road, as well as when and where. And they have retained their…
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We Are Living in an Age of Anxiety…

We Are Living in an Age of Anxiety…

Luxury Beat
To say that we are navigating an uncertain world is a huge understatement. The pandemic, the economy, the American election, the future of our great industry — are all causing substantial confusion, anxiety, and stress. While we are all focused on figuring out what might happen next and how to deal with it, one issue that I fear we are not paying enough attention to is mental health. Whether you are considering your workforce, your business partners, or your clients, emotional and psychological wellness is at risk. Studies are showing that the pandemic is having broad psychological repercussions. In a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-July, 53% of U.S. adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus — up…
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