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 most concerns of travelers are: accommodations, activities and means of transportation.
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."