Asian and Latin locations rose to the top of the list as up-and-coming destinations in the 2010 Virtuoso Luxe Report released today. India, Vietnam and Cuba are the top emerging destinations in this year’s report, which provides invaluable insight into the future direction of high-end travelers. Rounding out the top emerging-destination selections were the Galapagos Islands, China and Chile.
Based on expert feedback from its sought-after network of travel providers and advisors, the Luxe Report results reflect booking trends, new travel destinations, comparisons to travel in 2009, and above all, forecast the travel aspirations of some of the most upscale travelers in the United States.
The top three trends ranked by Virtuoso travel providers as influencing clients’ vacation choices included: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest & relaxation; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones. Interestingly, the survey also found that private villa rental is booming, with 41 percent saying that this sector will increase in 2010 over 2009 bookings, supporting the trend towards connecting with loved ones in a private group setting.
Travelers in 2010 are booking longer vacations to more distant destinations. Of the travel professionals responding, 71 percent said clients are seeking international travel for 10+ days. Weekend getaways to domestic destinations garnered the smallest share with only 18 percent.
The primary reasons for Virtuoso clientele booking their travel through a Virtuoso agent as opposed to booking directly were cited as: expertise; the comfort level of working with their travel provider; the pre- and post-trip support they receive; and the ability of the travel provider to fully customize the trip for them. The largest influences on consumers’ travel decisions are word of mouth, travel magazines and lifestyle magazines.
“The Luxe Report findings confirm people’s continued drive to travel – to see and experience the world firsthand,” said Virtuoso CEO Matthew D. Upchurch. “Although favorites such as Italy and Australia appear on this year’s list of popular vacation locations, the results point to new interest in emerging destinations such as India, Vietnam and Cuba, the latter of which is revealing, given the current US restrictions. The Luxe Report also affirms the value that high-end travelers place on working with a professional travel advisor. In this era of on-line marginalization, experience, knowledge and personalized service still emerge as the very things travelers value.”
Key findings from the 2010 Virtuoso Luxe Report are outlined below:
What are the five most popular international destinations for travelers in 2010?
3. South Africa
What are the top five U.S. destinations where you expect to send travelers in 2010?
3. New York City
4. Napa Valley/Sonoma
5. Las Vegas
Which of the following do you see as “emerging destinations,” meaning those on the cusp of becoming popular, either for the first time or all over again?
4. Galapagos Islands
What do you anticipate are the top five most popular destinations for family travel in 2010?
5. Australia & Costa Rica (tied)
Which luxury cruises saw the biggest increase in demand in 2009?
3. European River
5. Baltic Region
Which itineraries do you anticipate being popular in 2010?
3. European River
5. Greek Isles
Rank your clients’ motivation in choosing a vacation:
1. Seeking authentic experiences in new destinations
2. Rest & Relaxation
3. Spending time or reconnecting with loved ones
4. Discovering new experiences in previously visited (or more familiar) destinations
5. Personal enrichment (e.g. voluntourism, cultural experience, learning, etc.)
6. Seeking adventure
Rank the most important determining factors for your clients when choosing a vacation:
1. The right destination
2. Value for money paid
3. The right activity (activities)
For socially and environmentally conscious travelers, which aspects of their travel are they most concerned about?
2. Activities or excursions
3. Means of transportation
4. Giving back to local communities through monetary donations
5. Giving back to local communities through voluntourism
Advisors from Virtuoso travel agencies were invited to take the survey in November and December 2009. Results were tabulated from more than 250 responses from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. The sampling represents 10,000 of the Virtuoso network’s 1.3 million-name database of affluent clients.