India, China to lead luxury travel rebound
The International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Leaders Forum has confirmed that 2012 is likely to be the first year of significant growth since 2007. Whilst overall the recent recession showed that luxury travel was not insusceptible to the global economic climate, both China and India have experienced significant growth in this period.
Highlighting this trend, Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) CEO, Paul Kerr, said bookings out of India last year grew by 129%, albeit on a small base.
“The Indian luxury market comprises regular guests rather than aspirational travellers saving for a one-off luxury holiday,” he commented. “And just like any other luxury traveller, the Indian millionaire wants freedom of choice,” Kerr said.
The Indian luxury market is predicted to grow at a rate of 21% with luxury travel growing at approximately 15% in the next five years, representing a fast-emerging, high-spending sector across Asia as a whole.
As the world prepares for 100 million outbound travellers from mainland China and 50 million from India by 2020, the ILTM Leaders Forum stressed that achieving the right balance of a geographically diverse source of business is crucial at all times.
Panellists from the range of sectors represented at the Leaders Forum agreed that individually their definitive goals were to increase profit margins. The lesson learnt from the recession was that discounting is a disservice to luxury and that reducing rates to increase occupancy levels is a short-term fix that creates a larger problem in the long run. One factor the industry is expecting to encourage the recovery is the growth of family/multi-generational travel with 2011 marking the year that the oldest baby boomers turn 65.
Maintaining the highest level of standards of service and satisfaction as well as offering unique and authentic experiences that get under the skin of a destination are essential for the luxury travel industry to continue to grow successfully and sustainably, according to the ‘think tank’.
Tom Marchant, Founder of Black Tomato, commented; “Today’s luxury traveller is ultimately seeking a ‘meaningful’ travel experience - and in this context that means the pursuit of something that is authentic, reflects the local landscape and is genuinely real.”
Debbie Joslin, Group Exhibition Director of ILTM commented; “The luxury traveller is constantly evolving: the industry needs to adapt - and remain adaptive in the future. Consumers are more cautious with their travel decisions and the industry must adhere to the promises we make.”
The ILTM Leaders’ Forum was a representation of luxury hoteliers and hotel representation companies, high-end tour operators and travel advisors who gathered to discuss issues impacting their globally valuable sector including sales performance, rate integrity, delivering customised travel experiences and customer satisfaction.
The ILTM Leaders Forum will meet again Monday 13 June 2011 at ILTM Asia in Shanghai to continue to address global trends in global luxury travellers’ buyer behaviour, as well as explore the importance of the buyer and supplier relationship.