FEATURED Spa Handbook: Luxury Travel in the Post COVID-19 World


Agility Research’s Affluent Traveller TrendLens Report finds reasons to be optimistic about the return of luxury travel. Amrita Banta highlights the report’s most interesting insights

Limitations in international travel brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are clearly affecting the bottom line not only of travel and hospitality brands, but of the luxury sector overall, with sectors heavily reliant on travelers suffering the most.

While it may take some time before the situation normalises, our data from across eight key Asian markets and the US shows that there are reasons to be optimistic in the mid- to long-term.

As travel restrictions start to loosen up with the establishment of travel bubbles between countries and as affluent individuals around the world start making new, tentative travel plans, we see that the past year of repressed travel needs will fuel a resurgence of travel to those destinations that are able to reassure guests they are safe to visit.

What follow are some of the most interesting insights we picked up from our Affluent Traveller TrendLens™ 2020/21 Report, studying affluent Asian and American consumers’ behaviour and needs post-pandemic:

■ Women will drive the luxury rebound in Asia: in China, affluent women see their future being as bright as men, with 54 percent of both men and women expecting their income to increase. This is good news for many luxury travel brands, given how important the female segment is in driving growth, especially in the wellness and health category. Women in the US tend to be less optimistic: they believe that the COVID-19 crisis will have an impact on their income, with only 29 percent believing that their income will increase, vs 42 percent of US men.

■ Consumers have different travel plans: While affluent consumers in larger Asian countries like China, Indonesia and India are optimistic about restarting leisure travel – particularly domestic travel – within the next 12 months, affluent consumers in the US are not: a majority of them expect to considerably decrease their travel overseas (58 percent) and domestically (56 percent) in the next year.

■ Key reasons for taking the next leisure trip: Given that 2020 has been such a stressful year, spent mostly indoors, it is not surprising that ‘to relax and unwind’ and ‘to enjoy nature’ are the main reasons for affluent Asian consumers to take their next leisure trip. In addition, US affluent consumers say they plan to travel to ‘visit a loved one’. Interestingly, American male travelers are more likely than women to take leisure trips ‘to improve their health’.

■ Key reasons not to do any international leisure travel: Understandably, in both Asia and the US, ‘fear of getting infected with COVID-19’ emerged as the top reason not to travel internationally in the next 12 months, followed by imposed ‘COVID-19 restrictions’ and to try to ‘limit the spread of the virus’.

■ The top 5 destinations to travel to: In general, affluent Asians say they prefer to stay closer to home when they travel again: in six different Asian markets, Japan and Australia dominate the top five destinations to travel to in the next 12 months, followed by South Korea and Thailand. The US and Europe rank high on the Korean and Japanese travellers’ list. With seven out of every 10 Americans having some domestic travel plans, the US is the top leisure travel choice for affluent Americans, followed by key European countries – Italy, the UK and France.

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