Luxury travellers in Germany want not only five-star hotels and top comfort but also unique experiences and quality time with their family, according to a new survey as well as specialist tour operators.
High-end customers want a mix of traditional luxury travel products and new elements, the latest annual “Consumer generations” survey of the top-earning one third of the population by German consultants Keylens and Inlux found. The main results for tourism showed that luxury customers are paying more attention to internet ratings and reviews but a five-star standard remains by far the most important factor.
For example, luxury cruises are not only popular with older customers but are a relevant holiday option for more than half of those born since 1967. Expedition ships are attractive for many well-off travellers aged below 50. And nearly half (47%) of those born after 1995 would go on a luxury cruise holiday.
In terms of general travel motivations, there are two main types. Quality time with family or friends is the most important element for 62% of all respondents. Ideally this is combined with special moments or unique experiences that remain memorable for a long time. Another major need across all age-groups is for relaxation and compensation for stressful everyday life.
However, there are also significant differences between the five different generations, according to the survey:
Silent Generation (born before 1946). Familiar surroundings on holiday and recognition by hosts is decisive for this customer segment. Five-star classification is less important than for other age-groups.
Baby Boomer (1947-1966). Intense experiences, self-reflection, ‘getting into balance’ are the top factors for this customer segment. They are least likely to switch away from first-class hotels towards less comfort.
Generation X (1967-1982). This age-group has the strongest desire for relaxation and recovery. They do not want to make any mistakes with their holiday booking and are most likely to rely on travel agents.
Millennials (1983-1994). This generation has the highest proportion of ‘discoverers’ who want to combine five-star luxury with intensive personal experiences. But they also have a high desire for relaxation.
Generation Z (1995-2010). A change from everyday life, surprises and unique experiences on holiday are especially important for this age-group. But at the same time they also have the second-highest score in terms of desire for relaxation.
The survey findings are largely in line with the experiences of German tour operators in the premium market.
Karl Pojer, head of premium cruise operator Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, said luxury customers want “everything apart from the mainstream”, and are especially interested in “unique, individual and customised experiences in exciting parts of the world.” He emphasised that although digitalisation is becoming more important it does not replace individual service and comfort. “High Tech does not replace High Touch,” he declared.
Steffen Boehnke, head of Airtours, TUI’s premium holidays brand, highlighted the need for flexibility given that customers want to have individual travel planning. Time is another important element. The desire to save travelling time while continuing to enjoy high standards of comfort is getting more important, he pointed out. Such factors are often much more important than the price of the holiday.
Stephan Braun, head of Windrose Finest Travel, noted that many high-end customers also put priority on enjoying gastronomy on their trips, including regional specialities. A new trend, according to Marion Aliabadi, chief of Design Reisen, a winner in this year’s fvw Tourism Champions awards, is ‘healing’. This refers to living sustainability and ‘giving a meaning to your life’. This is particularly important for younger customers, she said.
The overall importance of the premium market, according to experts, is not only its financial value in terms of revenues and profits. It is also seen as an early indicator of preferences and trends that later emerge in the larger mainstream market. For example, demand for more individual, customised holidays started in the luxury market and has spread into the mainstream market in recent years.