What links such diverse travel marketers, like airlines, hotels, cruise lines, rental car agencies, travel agencies, tour operators, and travel media outlets, in their pursuit of sales, growth and profits? Those marketers that win and beat their direct competition will be the ones that understand the needs, wants and desires of the best potential customers and put insights into action with marketing strategies, tactics and guest services that really matter.
When it comes down to the best potential customers for any travel marketer, it is the affluent consumer, people with plenty of disposable income to spend and an appetite for new, exotic, out-of-the-ordinary experiences.
New study reveals the prospects and opportunities for serving the luxury traveler this year and next
At first blush, the opportunities look ripe for the luxury travel market. Unity Marketing’s latest survey reveals that at any time about one-half of affluents are planning a vacation within the next six-months. But this year, affluents heading out on new adventures want the pleasures of luxury travel, but at a discount price.
There is a whole new style of luxury travel for 2015 and 2016, which may – or increasingly may not – include opulence or indulgence. Rather, affluent travelers are going in for more detailed DIY planning and special experiences where they can rub shoulders with the locals. Unity Marketing’s new trend report, Affluents Will Travel in New Luxury Style, is a marketers’ guide to capture some of the roughly $8,000 they expect to spend on their next vacation. It reveals detail research data from a new survey among 1,330 affluent consumers about their travel plans for this year, as well as historical data from Unity Marketing's quarterly Affluent Consumer Tracking Studies from 2008-1H2014, in order to track trends and shifts in this year's market.
More affluents are undecided about travel plans & waiting until the last minute to book
This year, affluents plan to take three vacations, but they are waiting until the last minute to book. This works in their favor, as they carefully research all the available options, compare the many promotional offers received, and tap the internet and social media for reviews and recommendations.
For travel planning, they are more DIY in 2015 and turning to travel professionals less than in 2013. Further, due to growing global unrest and the Department of State issuing a 'worldwide caution' on January 9, 2015, it only makes sense to wait until the window of opportunity is right.
This year, the share of affluents who are undecided about their travel plans more than doubled from Unity Marketing's 2013 luxury travel study. Further, the projected budgets for their next vacation is at its lowest level tracked by Unity Marketing since 2009. Consumer uncertainty and lack of confidence is never a good sign for marketers, and that is the environment that travel marketers face this year.
The saying goes, 'Hope for the best, but plan for the worst,' and that should be the mantra for travel marketers this year. Given all the factors that can impact people's willingness to travel, especially overseas, travel marketers need to plan that their customers will be harder to commit to proposed trips this year. Those customers will be more demanding when it comes to getting the most for their investment and may look more aggressively to cut expenditures wherever they can. This may be an especially good year for the travel insurance business.
Travel rewards programs less rewarding in 2015
Another important trend found in the new Unity Marketing study is that rewards programs, like those offered by airlines, hotels and credit cards, are less motivating for affluents in 2015 than two years ago. A growing share of affluents have no plans or are undecided if they will redeem rewards for travel this year. Further, affluents report being less influenced by collecting rewards points in their choice of travel provider.
Since travel marketers rely heavily on rewards programs to market their services, this is an important call to action. It points to the need for travel providers to focus their marketing and rewards programs toward rewards that are more meaningful and motivating to affluent travelers. Saving money is always welcome, but just offering rewards in the form of discounts and savings may no longer be the ticket to building a loyal and high-spending customer base.
About How Affluents Will Travel in New Luxury Style trend report
Tapping a new survey of over 1,300 affluent travelers about their plans for travel in 2015 and perspective from six years of market research data, Unity Marketing reveals what's on the mind of today's luxury traveler. The new trend report, Affluents Will Travel in New Luxury Style, digs deeply into the spending habits and preferences of high-net-worth (HNW) and high-earners-not-rich-yet (HENRY) individuals. Travel marketers will learn:
- Who has disposable income for travel expenses and where will they spend it in 2015?
- How does today's traveler define luxury?
- What is the role of the travel professional in today's luxury travel market?
- What influences affluents when making travel plans? Which websites and travel publications are most important?
- How affluents use social media to choose providers?
- What are the top 10 destinations for affluent travelers?
- How do affluents -- HNW & HENRYs -- spend their money while traveling?
- How can you build a relationship with the next generation of Millennial travelers?
This report includes eye-opening statistics and detailed case studies to demonstrate how your hospitality firm or travel destination can thrive in today's value-oriented luxury travel market. Success in luxury travel marketing begins with understanding the needs and desires of luxury travelers. Get an edge on the competition with the Affluents Will Travel In New Luxury Style: the Ultimate Guide to Winning the Hearts & Dollars of Today's Affluent Traveler by the luxury consumer experts at Unity Marketing.
To learn more about luxury consumer trends, download Pam Danziger's free white paper, Five Luxe Trends for 2015.
This post was written by Pam Danziger, President of Unity Marketing.
About Unity Marketing
Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. Pam received the Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum in 2007 by Harper's Bazaar. Luxury Daily named Pam to its list of "Women to Watch in 2013." She is a member of Jim Blasingame: The Small Business Advocate’s Brain Trust and a contributing columnist to The Robin Report.
Pam's latest book is Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury: How new consumer values are redefining the way we market luxury (Paramount Market Publishing, 2011). Her other books include Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience, published by Kaplan Publishing in October 2006; Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses-as well as the Classes, (Dearborn Trade Publishing) and Why People Buy Things They Don't Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior (Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2004).