INTERNATIONAL REPORT—More than 90% of luxury travelers don’t want to book online but prefer to have a bespoke highly personalized service that includes all the concierge aspects of the trip, according to a survey of top vacation rental trends for 2019 by Exceptional Villas of its clients.
The survey included seven different criteria and values including the importance of service, experience, safety, value, trust, freedom, access and ease of booking.
When booking, guests want to speak to an expert who has been to the destination and to the various properties. They want a company that can provide the pro and cons of both the destination and the property. Above all, they said that expert knowledge is essential.
While 90% of luxury travelers don’t want to book online, they do want to do their research online. Therefore, a company with high visibility combined with very thorough information and excellent search functions is essential. Luxury travel companies, therefore, need to embrace the digital revolution in order to be successful.
Seventy percent of clients surveyed said that ease of access was important. Direct flights are essential for 40% of those surveyed, and no more than two flights are important for 40%. Twenty percent of clients surveyed said they didn’t mind the extra travel to get to the destination they really want rather than settling on their second or third choice.
An interesting outcome of the survey was that 40% of clients who traditionally wanted a pure beach destination and vacation are now looking for destinations that provide a more experiential vacation. Top on the list for experiential destinations was Costa Rica, Bali and Hawaii.
All of the clients surveyed said that trust was extremely important. In this regard, word of mouth recommendations, testimonials and good reviews with a company such as Trust Pilot were very important.
Personalization is another very important aspect of booking luxury travel, and recognizing that every client’s needs and requirements are different and catering for those needs. In addition, 60% surveyed stated that they wished to participate in activities outside the normal touristy things to do. Having off the beaten track information and recommendations is very important for them. Clients want to be able to peel back the layers of a destination and feel and experience the destination like a local and not like a tourist.
The 2019 season’s most popular destinations are Barbados, Turks and Caicos, St Barts, Italy, The Bahamas, Hawaii and Costa Rica.
Even for very high-end properties, the price is still very important, and 60% of clients surveyed said that booking with a company that offer guaranteed best prices will sway their decision.
The survey also noted that booking trends are changing. More and more clients are booking well in advance. Fifty percent surveyed are booking at least six months in advance. Forty percent are booking between two-six months in advance, and 10% are booking their vacations at the last minute. More and more clients want to ensure that they have the full choice of accommodations.
“The way clients are traveling is also changing,” said Alexandra Baradi, owner/CEO of Exceptional Villas. “Multi-generational bookings have increased by 200% over the last 12 months and more and more people are opting to travel to celebrate their special occasions such as wedding, anniversaries and birthdays.