Travellers have changed their definition of ‘luxury’, tourism panel hears

Travellers have changed their definition of “luxury” to be less about material items and more focused on experiences, according to Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) of the World’s Pegi Amarteifio.

The organisation’s vice-president of global PR and communications told the International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum that there had been a notable change in recent years.

“[Luxury] is no longer as much about the golden taps,” she said. “Now it’s more about expressing who you are as a person. People want immersive experiences and interactions with local communities.”


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She said the hotels under the SLH umbrella tend to recruit heavily from their surrounding areas and try to engage with neighbours.

“Our hotels respect what’s on their doorstep and really try to integrate and that in turn helps the local community,” she said.

Amarteifio was among the panellists during a session entitled: ‘Diversifying your travel product – people, places, perspectives’.

Klaudija Janzelj, Tui’s head of city experiences, noted sustainability elements were increasingly being built into trips.

She gave an example of visitors to Rhodes being invited to swim with a school of fish, which gives a chance to discuss fish farms and environmental issues.

Listing other trends she had identified, she said travellers were increasingly seeking handmade itineraries, off-the-beaten track destinations and authentic, immersive experiences.

Convenience remains a major factor for people when assessing tour operators, she said, adding that travellers want to be able to book, change or cancel trips with ease.

Patricia Bergler, TourRadar’s head of marketing solutions, recommended that tour operators seek as many points of view as possible when designing trips.

“By taking as many stakeholders into account as you possibly can, that will help you mirror all the different angles from which a travel product can be seen,” she said.

“We all have completely different needs,” she added, noting differences on preferred season to travel and who to travel with.

Among the recent trends she recognised were a growing number of trips being created for solo female travellers, as well as a drive towards more travel in the shoulder seasons.

She said: “We want to make places all-year destinations. That’s a beautiful challenge, and it also has a certain sustainability aspect to it. You’re distributing traffic throughout the year rather than having an influx which overwhelms the entire system.”

Vaishali Patel, a tour guide and writer, recommended that companies should “go local” in their research when creating products.

Patel runs a tour along Ealing Road in Wembley called the Immersive Indian Community Tour of North London.

Picture (from left): Vaishali Patel, Pegi Amarteifio and Klaudija Janzelj

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