While “jet-setting” is synonymous with luxury travel, the release of the top luxury travel trends for 2014 from Travel Leaders Group indicates that cruises are most favored among its top echelon of upscale clients seeking premier travel experiences.
The Travel Leaders Group survey reports two of the top three luxury destinations internationally are cruises – European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises. In addition, survey data also indicates that over 86 percent of luxury agents polled state that their luxury travel bookings are higher than or equal to their luxury travel bookings at that same time one year ago, and the most important component of a trip for their luxury travelers is luxury accommodations.
Conducted November 11 - December 14, 2013, the luxury travel trends are based on responses from 924 Travel Leaders Group owners, managers and frontline travel agents throughout the United States who identified themselves as luxury travel advisers.
“While private villas, exclusive luxury resorts and world-class spas are often considered the preferred ‘playground’ of elite travelers, our Travel Leaders Group survey results indicate that a large, significant percentage of them are opting for cruise vacations in 2014,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.
“From penthouse and ‘owner’s’ suites on large ships to luxury small ships and around-the-world cruises, traveling the oceans and waterways of the world appeals to a large number of discerning travelers – and bookings for clients who desire high-end travel experiences continue to rise," Liben said.
Liben noted that nearly 46 percent of luxury-focused travel agents throughout Travel Leaders Group state their luxury travel bookings are higher than last year and another 41 percent have indicated their luxury travel bookings are at least on par with last year.
Top trends in luxury travel for 2014 include:
Top “Region” of the World for Luxury Travel
Travel Leaders Group’s luxury travel agents were asked, “When considering your luxury travelers, in which ‘region’ of the world are the majority of your luxury travel bookings?” The top responses included:
1. Cruises 20.3%
2. Europe – Western (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, etc.) 16.7%
3. Europe – Southern (Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal, Spain, Monaco, Italy, etc.) 15.0%
4. South Pacific & French Polynesia 5.8%
5. Americas – North America 5.1%
Top International Destinations for Luxury Travelers in 2014
The following list displays the top international destinations for luxury travelers in 2014. (Agents were asked to name up to three top destinations they’re already booking for 2014):
1. Cruise – Europe (River) 33.1%
2. Italy 28.5%
3. Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean)23.8%
4. Mexico 18.4%
5. Australia 13.5%
6. France 10.8%
7. Dominican Republic 9.1%
8. England 9.0%
9. Costa Rica 7.1%
10. CRUISE – Europe (Baltic) 6.5%
11. Ireland 5.8%
12. Bora Bora 5.3%
13. China 4.8%
14. St. Lucia 4.6%
15. Turks & Caicos 4.5%
Luxury Travel Up-and-Coming Destinations
Among the top responses when asked, “What would you say is the top up-and-coming destination for your luxury travel clients?” were such exotic destinations as: United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Tahiti, Antarctica, and Vietnam.
Luxury Travel Bookings in 2014
When Travel Leaders Group agents were asked to compare their overall 2014 Luxury Travel bookings so far to their luxury travel bookings at this time last year, over 86 percent of those surveyed say bookings are higher than or equal to 2013 (45.7% said “higher” while 40.5% said “even”). That compares to 41.5 percent “higher” and 44.6 percent “even” in 2013.
Most Important Component of a Luxury Trip
When Travel Leaders Group agents were asked, “When spending money for travel, what is most important to your luxury travel clients?” the top responses were:
1 Accommodations – Luxury 38.3%
2 Experience – Unique activities 17.6%
3 Air – First or Business Class 16.9%
4 Experience – Exclusivity 11.2%
5 Accommodations – Ultra luxury 8.4%
The luxury trends are part of a comprehensive travel trends survey which included responses from 1,358 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.