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Next generation luxury: what do upcoming travellers want?

Luxury is subjective – you’ll never find two people defining luxury travel in the same way. But the definition of luxury travel is shifting and adapting with a new generation of travellers, particularly the much talked about millennials.

Travel is incredibly important to the millennial generation and one of the key reasons they work – 70% say that aside from basic living expenses, they see their jobs mainly as a means to pay for personal travel (FlexJobs) – which makes incentive travel rewards particularly appealing to this generation.

Younger generations are seeking self-discovery, personal experiences, authenticity and downtime, resulting in a move away from the flashy group on tour-feel that incentives once were. Whilst luxury is still important, millennials care less about over-the-top glitz and glamour and are more focused on visiting destinations that offer a diverse itinerary that enables them to experience the unknown.

To find out what the next generation of travellers are really looking for, we asked some of the newcomers to the events industry – the youngest team members at several event agencies and the people who will be helping to shape incentive programmes of the future – to share their views on luxury travel and dream incentives.

Molly Maelzer and Michael Pollard, events project executives, BI WORLDWIDE
“For us, luxury is about the little touches and a high impact item. It is about having the opportunity to relax and feel pampered, for example enjoying a five-star hotel’s spa and pool facilities. It is also about those once in life time opportunities, experiences we would not be able to afford or create ourselves whether that be with high-end brands or cultural experiences.

We really love short city breaks. This gives us the opportunity to fit in a lot of exploring and gain cultural insight in a short space of time. It also helps by not taking too much time off work or costing a fortune!

At least once a year we also love to have a beach holiday. It’s important for us to have the opportunity to switch off our phones and escape the real world! The perfect option would be a good standard resort property with nice weather where we can chill and relax.

We also like travelling to gigs that take place in different areas of the world, making more of an experience out of it rather than just picking the most local venue.

The best incentive trip for us would be to gain an experience of something we couldn’t do ourselves, creating memories that last a lifetime. We would want to feel recognition for what we had achieved to earn our place on the trip. As an added bonus, it would be nice not to know everything up front and enjoy some surprise elements throughout the itinerary to increase the wow factor.

Molly: My dream incentive would be a high-end cruise. It would be an amazing experience to have the base of a luxury property, facilities and service at the same time as being able to experience so many different destinations and cultures.

Michael: For me the destination doesn’t matter, it is all about the experience! It could even be London where I have been many times, but experience something that I’ve never done before. It is not necessarily where you are but what you do that makes all the difference.

We both agree a key ingredient for us is to personally interact with the culture of a destination, to go off the beaten track, interact with locals and understand their way of life.”

Sascha Lewis, apprentice events assistant, DRPG
“The definition of luxury to me is something that is truly impeccable and spectacular. If I were to pick a destination that reflects this, I would unquestionably have to choose the Maldives, Mexico, or Barbados in the Caribbean (sorry I couldn’t just pick one).

These destinations all have four things in common – the white sandy beaches, electric blue seas, tropical heat, and, I’m sure, some tasty cocktails! In the future, these are places that I definitely want to visit and tick off my bucket list.

On holiday I always try to explore and find out about the countries culture and history, go into town and explore all of the best things the locals suggest, and then wind down after all of the fun excursions.

If I were to be incentivised to go to any of these amazing destinations, my dream incentive would be to do water sports – maybe a jet ski or snorkelling activity – tasting the countries delicacies, learning about their history and visiting the countries landmarks.”

Joanna Darby, marketing assistant, Top Banana
“My passion for travel started with the much-trampled gap year route of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and America. When it comes to destinations, Europe and America aren’t as appealing because of the accessibility and familiarity of those destinations. For me, luxury means travelling to places that my annual two-week all-inclusive holiday wouldn’t take me, such as Tanzania, Vietnam, Peru or even an eco-cruise in the Arctic.

My ideal incentive experience would include adventure and immersing myself in different cultures – seeing and doing things I’ve never done before.

Travel and accommodation still need to be the five-star experience, but with a difference. Not the expected high-end, extravagance of a luxury hotel resort, but something unique such as an eco-camp in Patagonia, wilderness lodge in Canada or a luxury tent in the middle of an African safari experience.”

Izzie Lachecki, marketing & events coordinator, Sleek Events
“After graduating, I went backpacking for a year. Travelling is, and always has been, a huge part of my life and one of the things that most appealed to me about joining Sleek Events, and the events industry in general, was the opportunity to travel. I have been lucky enough to travel to some amazing destinations with work, which for me is the dream.

To me, luxury isn’t just about visiting exotic places, trying delicious food, and staying in beautiful hotels. This is all great, and I love a five-star hotel but, for me, true luxury is the opportunity of experiencing things I wouldn’t usually experience – things I can look back on and be proud that I’ve done.

For example, I love reminiscing about my skydive in Fiji, or scuba diving with sharks in Australia! The next trip I have started to plan for myself South America – it excites me to plan the things I want to see and what activities I can throw myself at. I also speak Spanish, which definitely helps!

Pushing myself to do new (sometimes scary!) things and seeking out once-in-a-lifetime experiences are more appealing to me than going to the same beautiful hotel in the same place every year – and I think this would make for much more memorable incentives trips too.

I think the key elements in a great incentives trip are doing a really unique activity, staying in a beautiful, stand-out location, and experiencing the true culture of that location – trying the traditional food and meeting the local people.

My dream trip would be going to Iceland to see the Northern Lights – it is at the top of my bucket list. It would be a really impressive and extraordinary incentives trip – if only we could guarantee the Aurora Borealis would make an appearance!”

This article is part of our first inSPIRE: the ANNUAL edit – an in-depth report on current and future trends in the luxury events and incentives market, featuring exclusive research and interviews with industry experts from across the globe.

Stay tuned – the full report will be available to download soon…

By Susie Harwood

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