Luxury Travel – Not What it Used to Be

For decades, luxury has had one simple definition: “The state of great comfort and extravagant living. [An] inessential, desirable item that is expensive or difficult to obtain.”

Back in the day luxury meant having things that most people couldn’t have. In the 1790s, luxury was eating cake instead of bread (as Marie Antoinette found out). In the 1890s it was a first class cabin on a steam ship to America. In the 1990s it was a satellite phone. But defining luxury is not so simple anymore.

Indeed, a recent article by Ad Age revealed that 92% of people with above average wealth agree with the phrase: “To me, small indulgences can be just as meaningful as purchasing a high-end luxury product.”

Over the past 15 years we’ve begun to see a radical redefinition of paradigms that have remained unchanged for decades, even centuries. The ways in which we create, consume, learn, spend, meet, and travel have all been turned on their head. Consumers are simply better informed, and resent being told how – and with what – their lifestyle should be defined. To a younger generation, brand name loyalty is not as strong as it once was. One’s lifestyle is personal, valuable, and defining, and made from components chosen specifically by them. The same should go for travel.

Bring travel into the realm of luxury – or adding a touch of luxury to the realm of travel – is far more complicated than taking an expensive mode of transport to an expensive place to stay. The new luxury travel is an adventure that each one of your senses takes. It’s the connectedness of a journey that no one else has done in the exact same way. It’s something intangible that you tell friends about, and something that makes you feel like you’ve experienced something no one else has.

Smiling Albino Director Daniel Fraser recently gave a talk entitled “Beyond Price“, which discussed the value in taking high-profile travellers street side and showing them that unique local experiences, well-choreographed, create the lifetime memories that all travellers – luxury or otherwise – seek.   “We’ve taken billionaires for noodles, but delivered it with context and a narrative to provide deeper meaning. Value is added by taking advantage of what is already there – such as unique forms of transit, festivals, local food – and making it a personalized, relevant experience.”

[Tweet “Things come and go, but experiences help define us and how we see the world.”]

Essentially, discovering and indulging in luxury travel is about unique experiences, not just desirable things. Things come and go, but experiences help define us and how we see the world, and how we remember it.