I was interested to hear Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, say that there is a new definition of luxury. In his remarks at an August 13th press conference during Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, he defined luxury as “actually having somebody listen to what I want and delivering on that.” It’s personalized travel catering to the individual.
It used to be that luxury was defined simply by price tags and designer labels. I distinctly remember accompanying my parents on a so-called luxury vacation which made an impact mostly because we stayed at a “fancy” hotel, were offered champagne and then were ushered through a series of must-see attractions. It occurred to me that the only luxury was in the marketing; some genius figured out we would pay more if it was called luxury.
What Virtuoso learned by listening to customers is that luxury travel isn’t about the latest, greatest new discoveries or standard experiences anymore. It’s not about dictating what luxury is. Travelers who have “arrived” now want to explore personal interests and immerse more fully in destinations old and new (particularly in hot destinations). Among their top trends are special interest and health/wellness travel, along with getting to know destinations through cultural and local experiences. The luxury set is also taking to private residences and villas to further immerse themselves.
The key to customer satisfaction has always been listening to customers and delivering on that. It’s good to hear leaders in luxury travel reinforce that.