Luxury travel is flourishing.
According to a report on luxury travel by travel technology company Amadeus, luxury travel is growing faster than overall travel.
Titled Shaping The Future Of Luxury Travel: Future Traveller Tribes 2030, the report adds that mature people are choosing to spend their money on experiences rather than material possessions.
But what are industry players doing to keep luxury travel exciting for customers?
Hongkong And Shanghai Hotels managing director and CEO Clement Kwok explained that personalised experiences and services, knowing your customer and pampering them are among the things emphasised for guests at their hotel.
Kwok was speaking as a panellist during a session titled “The Traveller Of The Future – Luxury Tourism” at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand on April 27.
Moderated by CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, the session also saw Siam Piwat Co Ltd CEO Chadatip Chutrakul, Silversea Cruises chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio di Balsorano de Clunieres and lebua Hotels and Resorts CEO Deepak Ohri as panellists.
Responding to Greenberg’s question about how the changing definition of luxury travel has affected hotel operations, Kwok opined that the idea of people wanting to be pampered is unlikely to change much in the coming years.
“However, the channels through which you do your pampering, or the trends or styles of how people want to be pampered, may change,” he noted.
“One example would be the use of technology,” he said, adding that there are customers who communicate with hotel staff via WhatsApp. We’ve always believed that technology is an important part of the experience.”
Meanwhile, Chutrakul, who operates Siam Paragon, an upscale shopping mall in the Thai capital, opined that it is important to establish an emotional connection and to customise the customer’s experience in luxury travel.
“We have visitors from around the world and their behaviour in the past 10 years has changed a lot,” she said, adding that customers do more than just shop.
Also, delivering memorable experiences to customers is vital.
“For example, when we have a VIP coming from overseas, they tell us in advance what they would like to do,” she said.
They co-ordinate with shopping malls, hotels and temples which the customer would like to go in order to customise their experience, adding that it is also important to work with others.
Echoing her was Ohri, who emphasised the importance of the element of surprise and the emotional connection in luxury lifestyles.
He said that some big hotels in emerging and developed countries are facing challenges because they lack that element of surprise for their guests.
“They (customers) need a surprise, an emotional connection and in technology, that is lacking,” he said.
He added that there was a need to “go back to the basics”, and elements such as culture and kindness cannot be replaced with technology. – Yasmin Ahmad Kamil