Despite Coronavirus restrictions high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth travellers are still willing to make plans.
“Affluent travellers tend to be a little more comfortable with the wait-and-see scenario,” said Misty Belles, managing director at Virtuoso, a global network of 1,100 travel agencies and more than 22,000 travel advisors specialising in luxury travel.
Belles was recently quoted in an article on CNBC.com. Belles goes on to say in the article: “Because they’re well-versed at travel and it’s such an ingrained part of their lifestyle, our clients are really more in that sit-and-wait camp — especially if there’s no financial penalty for them to do so.”
So where are they booking?
St Tropez holiday rental agency St Tropez House noticed a 28% growth in rentals from 2019 to 2020, despite Covid-19. Businesses like St Tropez House and French Riviera holiday let agency Cap Villas have been enticing potential holidaymakers with 360-degree videos and digital tours.
Length of stay
The average length of stay at St Tropez House’s rental properties has grown compared to last year. In 2019, the average stay was two weeks, while in 2020 the average stay was 3.5 weeks, likely indicating people wanting to make the most of their holiday in a time when many of us didn’t know when our next chance to escape would be. St Tropez House also noticed something it had never experienced before: certain clients who had already booked extending their stay, on average by 25% compared to the original length of their stay.
How are they getting there?
Some 35% of St Tropez House clients came by private jet during COVID times – a significant increase from 15% in 2019, driven by the wish to travel safely and avoid being in the same space as other travellers.
This aligns with data from private jet firms such as VistaJet, which charters private jets through a membership program and reported that July 2020 saw a 320% increase in new memberships compared to July 2019. Fractional jet ownership business NetJets also reported that between January and October 2020 they saw three times as many new customers as the same period in 2019.
The uncertainty of 2020 has led to a change in the contracts of many businesses in the luxury travel industry working with HNW and UHNWIs.
Companies such as yacht charter agencies, villa let businesses and hotels have felt pressure to modify their contracts to allow clients to rebook or cancel their holidays as needed in the light of the pandemic.
St Tropez House witnessed an increase in cancellations in 2020, rising from one in ten in 2019 to three in ten last year. Out of these, 70% of St Tropez House’s holiday rental clients were moved to 2021 and 30% were simply refunded. The vast majority of cancellations came from the UK, where the situation seemed to be most volatile due to ever-changing restrictions.
Top 5 ultra-luxury travel trends for 2021
- Private buyouts. HNWI and UHNWIs book an entire private residence, a group of chalets to spend quality time with friends and family in a home-away-from-home environment.
- Hyper-personalisation. Starting from the moment their guests share their interests and preferences, the goal is not to just get to know their preferences, but to anticipate their needs weeks before their arrival to make sure they feel special.
- Home-to-Home holidays. UHNWI individuals are relocating to private residences, often for several months at a time, that can accommodate a working environment and provide the facilities required to continue day-to-day life as normal.
- Ultra-itineraries. Determined to make up for lost time, 2021 is set to be a blow-the-budget year for luxury travellers, with an uptick in demand for ‘once in a lifetime’ adventures.
- Heli-Hopping. What better way to bypass airport check-ins than with 2021’s latest travel accessory, the helicopter transfer? Luxaviation reported a significant rise both in helicopter ownership requests and long-term charters, with the wealthy looking to hop safely from airport to property to yacht.
Source: Travel daily media