Virtuoso Luxe Report Says Affluent Canadians Demanding Personalization

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

The latest Virtuoso Luxe Report shows travel in 2019 will be highly personalized and inspired by a desire to experience new destinations in unusual ways. 

Every year global luxury travel network Virtuoso surveys its force of travel agencies and advisors in 50 countries, including 185 locations in Canada, to forecast what the coming year will bring. The Luxe Report previews consumer preferences in high-end and experiential travel.

Virtuoso’s affiliated travel advisors revealed client requests that illustrate the desire for a deeper level of personalization and one-of-a-kind experiences. From specific seat numbers on planes and hotel room numbers to particular rental car types, travellers are more vocal about their precise preferences. 

Nothing is left to chance, as increasingly clients ask for prearranged meals and appointments. They are seeking not just restaurant reservations, but exact tables at in-demand hot spots as well as pre-ordering wine to accompany the meal. They also ask their advisor to book sessions with hairdressers, massage therapists and even tattoo artists.

Through the Luxe Report, Virtuoso uncovered five trends – all with an overarching movement toward personalization – shaping how Canada’s most affluent travellers will roam the world in 2019.

Motivation: Social media’s influence is unmistakable, as it drives travellers’ desire to find the most captivating backdrops and the best time of day for snapping images. Clients are requesting on-site photography sessions to create Instagram-worthy content, including replicating shots they admired online. Virtuoso advisors are arranging themed photoshoots characteristic of destinations, such as wearing traditional geisha attire in Kyoto or ball gowns in Venice.

Transportation: When flying commercial, airlines with state-of-the-art business and first-class cabins are a favourite. Upon landing, VIP airport arrival services that whisk travellers through customs and ease tight connections are growing in demand. Requests are on the rise for private helicopter transfers to and from airports as well as from one city or resort island to another.

Accommodation: Experiential travellers who have seen it all are craving stays in unconventional accommodations. Those range from a treehouse to a monastery to an igloo in Norway, a tent in the Moroccan desert, the shores of the Red Sea, and even a bubble nestled in nature so they can gaze at stars before drifting off to sleep.

Recreation: People want to explore their passions through bucket-list experiences. Sports fans are asking for tickets to major events such as the Olympics, Super Bowl and Wimbledon. Art aficionados are inquiring about private tours of locales like the Vatican after hours. Shoppers want appointments at high-end stores such as Hermès to purchase signature items like a Birkin bag. Music lovers are booking trips to summer festivals and concerts. Advisors are also arranging private dinners with influential local figures.

Conservation: Travellers are expressing heightened interest in animal-related experiences. Some request visits to animal protection facilities or to observe animals in the wild, such as whale watching and viewing rhinos at close range. Some want to interact more directly with animals, such as at the Giraffe House in Nairobi or dog sledding to the North Pole. They also exhibit concern for animal welfare and want to ensure that interactions are sustainable.  

“Virtuoso travel advisors are unique in the industry, as their elite clientele set the pace for other travellers with their preference for cutting-edge destinations and experiences,” said Tim Morgan, director, business strategy, Canada for Virtuoso. “As the professionals who design journeys for Canada’s luxury travellers, Virtuoso advisors spot coming trends such as ultra-personalization at a very early stage and share that knowledge in the Luxe Report.”

Affluent Canadian Travel Trends

Crossing off bucket-list items is the prevailing travel motivator for Canadians in 2019, and Croatia tops their list of emerging destinations after finishing second to Iceland in 2018. Adventure travel maintains its number-one spot from last year as the biggest trend among Canadians, with multigenerational travel again finishing a strong second. Italy continues its reign as the top global destination as well as the leader for honeymoons; it also finished in the top five in the Millennial travel and family travel categories.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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