The Busi­ness of Lux­ury Travel: Is Africa Ready?

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Inside - Words: BRUCE GERMAINE

In­dus­try in­sid­ers say a change is afoot, with more trav­ellers per­son­ally re­defin­ing their def­i­ni­tion of “lux­ury travel”. For a lot of trav­ellers, lux­ury means a limou­sine trans­fer from an air­port, 1,000-thread count bed sheets and three-star Miche­lin restau­rants.

the more a trav­eller is used to lux­ury, the higher up the pyra­mid their ex­pec­ta­tions are. Lux­ury trav­ellers are gen­er­ally at the level of ex­pect­ing ex­clu­sive ex­pe­ri­ences. The VIP de­mands are lim­ited to a small group, used to the high­est level of lux­ury in their daily lives.

Lux­ury trav­ellers are gen­er­ally look­ing for such things as; per­son­alised ser­vice (prefer­ably one-on-one), good qual­ity beds with good qual­ity bed linen, so­phis­ti­cated de­sign, re­li­able trans­port, com­fort­able seats (with plenty of legroom) when trav­el­ling, food and wine of out­stand­ing stan­dards, ex­clu­siv­ity, pos­i­tive and pro­fes­sional in­ter­ac­tion with staff (such as greet­ings by the door­men) to men­tion but a few.

Lux­ury travel is no longer a niche sec­tor. It’s grow­ing at a faster rate than the ‘over­all’.

Ac­cord­ing to Amadeus’ lat­est re­port “Shap­ing the Fu­ture of Lux­ury Travel” this is not about to slow down: Be­tween 2011 and 2015, lux­ury travel grew by 4.5% com­pared to a 4.2% growth for over­all travel. The growth rate in out­bound lux­ury trips in the next 10 years is pro­jected at 6.2%. That’s al­most a third greater than over­all travel (4.8%).

The global growth of 7% of the lux­ury hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket is said to be pow­ered by the chang­ing life­styles of new af­flu­ent mid­dle classes around the world. These mid­dle class peo­ple, who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­creased wealth, have the pos­si­bil­ity to travel around the world. They have started ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of trav­el­ling long-haul to new des­ti­na­tions and are en­cour­ag­ing their friends to also ex­plore the cor­ners of the globe. That is also why lux­ury ho­tels have no­ticed an in­creased de­mand from the grow­ing mid­dle classes in the de­vel­op­ing mar­kets.

The term “Lux­ury Travel” has in its essence changed from what we used to know. If it hasn’t al­ready, it will be­come less ex­clu­sive as more peo­ple are ac­cess­ing the more daz­zling side of travel. What is con­sid­ered lux­ury to­day will con­tin­u­ally shift to be­come main­stream to­mor­row. All this change is mostly due to the way, in which travel busi­nesses con­trol their stan­dards. This in turn has much larger ef­fect on the re­main­ing parts in the in­dus­try.

African Travel Inc., the Glen­dale, CA-based tour op­er­a­tor, is among sa­fari sup­pli­ers that have in­tro­duced more af­ford­able itin­er­ar­ies, while main­tain­ing lux­ury stan­dards. Feedback from agents, it turns out, gets some of the credit.

“When our guests and their agents rec­om­mend ad­di­tional des­ti­na­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences for sa­faris, we lis­ten and make it hap­pen,” said Sher­win Banda, pres­i­dent of the com­pany, which was founded 40 years ago and is now part of The Travel Corp. “When vis­it­ing our agent part­ners, many con­sul­tants re­quested lux­u­ri­ous and value-packed itin­er­ar­ies for their guests. Agents said their clients have be­come ac­cus­tomed to lux­ury travel and are look­ing for af­ford­able tours to ex­otic des­ti­na­tions. As a re­sult, ATI has im­ple­mented new sa­fari va­ca­tion pack­ages, where heart-pound­ing wildlife sa­faris are paired with out­stand­ing food, ser­vice and ac­com­mo­da­tions, plus un­for­get­table in­ter­ac­tions with the lo­cals for a glimpse into Africa at its most au­then­tic.”

Africa’s growth in the lux­ury travel in­dus­try is quite im­pres­sive with leisure travel be­ing ahead of busi­ness travel. The re­cent eco­nomic growth in African coun­tries such as Nige­ria and Ghana give travel and tourism a hefty boost.

Ac­cord­ing to the “Shap­ing the Fu­ture of Lux­ury Travel”, there are var­i­ous fas­ci­nat­ing trav­eller types glob­ally;

“Sim­plic­ity Searchers” value ease and trans­parency in their travel plan­ning and hol­i­day­mak­ing above all else, and are will­ing to out­source their de­ci­sion-mak­ing to trusted par­ties to avoid hav­ing to go through ex­ten­sive re­search them­selves. “Re­ward Hunters” fo­cus on self-in­dul­gent travel that will of­ten mix a fo­cus on lux­ury with self-im­prove­ment and per­sonal health. The seek­ing of ‘re­ward’ for hard work in other ar­eas of their life is what mo­ti­vates them. They are look­ing for lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ences that are sev­eral notches above the ev­ery­day.

“Obli­ga­tion Meeters” have their travel choices re­stricted by the need to meet some bounded ob­jec­tive. In ad­di­tion to busi­ness travel com­mit­ments, these obli-

gations can in­clude per­sonal obli­ga­tions such as re­li­gious fes­ti­vals, wed­dings and fam­ily gath­er­ings. Busi­ness trav­ellers are the most sig­nif­i­cant mi­cro-group of many fall­ing within this camp. Al­though they will ar­range or im­pro­vise other ac­tiv­i­ties around their pri­mary pur­pose, their core needs and be­hav­iours mainly are shaped by their need to be in a cer­tain place, at a cer­tain time, with­out fail.

The other three Trav­eller Tribes are “Eth­i­cal Trav­ellers”,” Cul­tural Purists” and “So­cial Cap­i­tal Seek­ers”, but do not tend to nec­es­sar­ily dis­play ob­vi­ous lux­ury be­hav­iours.

As mid­dle-class mar­kets de­velop and ma­ture across the globe, the lux­ury hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket is ex­pand­ing to meet their needs. A re­cent re­port from Trans­parency Mar­ket Re­search found that the global lux­ury ho­tels mar­ket will con­tinue to ex­pand at CAGR (Com­pound An­nual Growth Rate) of 4% from 2015-2021. The in­creased wealth and re­fined travel as­pi­ra­tions of these new mid­dle classes will com­pel them to in­vest in long-haul travel to new des­ti­na­tions, thus en­cour­ag­ing their peers to fol­low suit and ex­plore other cor­ners of the globe.

Newly pros­per­ous trav­ellers are emerg­ing from dif­fer­ent re­gions around the world, in­clud­ing Africa. For the past few years, African trav­ellers have con­tin­u­ously cho-

Newly pros­per­ous trav­ellers are emerg­ing from dif­fer­ent re­gions around the world, in­clud­ing Africa. For the past few years, African trav­ellers have con­tin­u­ously cho­sen the front sec­tion of the plane for their in­ter­na­tional trav­els. The de­mand for out­bound Busi­ness Class flights from Africa grew un­til 2013, and has re­mained steady ever since.

sen the front sec­tion of the plane for their in­ter­na­tional trav­els. The de­mand for out­bound Busi­ness Class flights from Africa grew un­til 2013, and has re­mained steady ever since. The de­mand for First Class flights in Africa dropped con­sid­er­ably in 2014, but has also re­mained flat since that time.

Lux­ury ho­tels have con­se­quently no­ticed an in­creased de­mand from the grow­ing mid­dle classes in the de­vel­op­ing mar­kets. The lux­ury hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket’s global growth of 7% is said to be fu­elled by the chang­ing life­styles of new af­flu­ent mid­dle classes around the world. Peo­ple from the mid­dle class, who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­creased wealth, now want to travel around the world. Not only have they started ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of trav­el­ling long-haul to new des­ti­na­tions, they are also en­cour­ag­ing their friends to also ex­plore the cor­ners of the globe.

Some of the more sig­nif­i­cant find­ings from the “Shap­ing the Fu­ture of Lux­ury Travel” are; North Amer­ica and Western Europe ac­count for 64% of global out­bound lux­ury trips, de­spite only mak­ing up 18% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, from 2011-2025, Asia Pa­cific’s lux­ury travel mar­ket will see faster over­all growth than Europe’s - but this growth will de­cel­er­ate from 2015-2025, In­dia’s lux­ury mar­ket CAGR of 13% is higher than any of the other BRIC na­tions and is the high­est of the 25 coun­tries ex­plored in the re­port, a hu­man de­sire for more re­ward­ing ex­peri-

Lux­ury means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and this is es­pe­cially true to­day. As emer­gent mid­dle classes seek the ma­te­rial as­pect of lux­ury travel, more ma­ture mar­kets are crav­ing a new, evolved kind of lux­ury. This is why of­fer­ing lux­ury cus­tomers a rel­e­vant per­sonal and ex­clu­sive ex­pe­ri­ence will be­come even more cru­cial than it is to­day.”

- Rob Sin­clair-Barnes, Strate­gic Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor, Amadeus IT Group.

ences pro­vides an es­sen­tial cat­a­lyst to evolve and im­prove travel in­dus­try qual­ity and ser­vice stan­dards, a hi­er­ar­chy of lux­ury travel needs is iden­ti­fied, rang­ing from 5-star qual­ity and ser­vice stan­dards to ex­clu­sive VIP pri­vacy and se­cu­rity. “Lux­ury means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and this is es­pe­cially true to­day,” said Rob Sin­clair-Barnes, Strate­gic Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor, Amadeus IT Group. “As emer­gent mid­dle classes seek the ma­te­rial as­pect of lux­ury travel, more ma­ture mar­kets are crav­ing a new, evolved kind of lux­ury. This is why of­fer­ing lux­ury cus­tomers a rel­e­vant per­sonal and ex­clu­sive ex­pe­ri­ence will be­come even more cru­cial than it is to­day – it will be a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor be­tween old and new lux­ury.

“Un­der­stand­ing your busi­ness’s role in de­liv­er­ing an end-to-end lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence for a trav­eller is key to im­prov­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion, and re­in­forc­ing an in­dus­try-wide push for con­sis­tent lux­ury ser­vice. Ex­plor­ing the lat­est tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions for mak­ing the in­dus­try work bet­ter as a whole is key to achiev­ing a new level of lux­ury that has never ex­isted be­fore.”

Lux­ury travel con­tin­ues to grow steadily all year round, with some­what sur­pris­ing re­sults as the re­sults seem to be buck­ing the trends, es­pe­cially in the face of to­day’s eco­nomic cli­mate.

Africa’s growth in the lux­ury travel in­dus­try is quite im­pres­sive with leisure travel be­ing ahead of busi­ness travel. The re­cent eco­nomic growth in African coun­tries such as Nige­ria and Ghana give travel and tourism a hefty boost.

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