The Return of Luxury Travel Is Boosting Innovation

    The death of the office is creating a generation of digital nomads. From zoom backdrops to curated immersion, it’s a chance for luxury to innovate.
    The death of the office is creating a generation of digital nomads. From zoom backdrops to curated immersion, it’s a chance for luxury to innovate. Photo: Shutterstock
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    The “death of the office” seems unstoppable. When Apple asked people to come back to the office for part of the week, employees (including the head of AI) resigned. While Tesla has doubled down recently on insisting that all employees come back to work, the trend towards more remote work seems unstoppable, at least for the foreseeable future. This puts enormous pressure on the hospitality industry and offers huge opportunities for innovation.

    In the past, luxury hotels did not have to worry about where the desk was placed, but in times of sheer endless zoom and teams calls, the lighting and the backdrop in a hotel can become as critical as other amenities for digital nomads in the luxury segment. And from my own experience, traveling extensively worldwide, few hotels have adapted successfully to the needs of high-end business travelers that manage a significant part of their work while on the go. I remember a recent stay in London, where — in one of the best hotels in town — it was literally impossible to find a quiet space for an important video call.

    And as luxury travelers become more digital, new innovative services emerge. Brevity is a travel tech company that caters to high luxury travelers, taking the stress out of the trip planning experience by giving people trusted, vetted, and personalized recommendations. It’s an app-based service that empowers total immersion in any place in the world. The idea is simple, yet powerful. A traveler spends, say, four days in Paris, Tokyo, or Los Angeles, and has a program mixing work meetings and leisure. The app will provide highly curated and personalized immersions at the travel destination that are matched to the preferences of each discerning traveler.

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    The founder and CEO of Brevity, John O’Korn, told me that “the modern travel experience is often so stressful and time consuming that it robs us of the joy that should come innately with new experiences. We exist to make life better for people who live in constant motion by providing them with personalized recommendations that will surprise and delight them again and again. They can immerse themselves as a local would anywhere in the world without the need of complex preparations.” The future of luxury travel will be ultimate personalization, flexibility, and context-sensitivity. Receiving precisely the information a traveler needs, when they need it.

    Another disruptive move was recently done by Airbnb. The landing page was completely overhauled to provide travelers, including the most affluent, with destinations that are curated for them based on their passions and interests. Instead of looking for a stay in one particular place like traditional travel searches, Airbnb now offers categories like, “beach,” “amazing pools,” “OMG!,” or “lakefront.” Customers now choose to be surprised with destinations worldwide or in a specific region or place.

    Airbnb allows travelers to search for places to stay based on a variety of categories. Photo: Screenshot
    Airbnb allows travelers to search for places to stay based on a variety of categories. Photo: Screenshot

    Of course, traditional luxury travel concierges remain important for top-end clientele. However, many younger affluent travelers prefer to curate trips themselves or have personalized apps or digital services do the job for them before they travel or while on the go. Destinations are often chosen, especially by Gen Z, to deliver social media content. Influencers on TikTok now have more persuasion power on where customers travel than traditional travel publications. And at the highest level of customers, the demand for “barefoot luxury” is increasing dramatically. Often, super high-net-worth individuals now ask their travel advisors to avoid Michelin star restaurants and find places where locals would go that are topnotch, immersive, experiential, but yet relaxed and casual.

    New hotel concepts emerge, like the Equinox Hotel, where wellness and fitness rituals are the total focus. These concepts attract customers that do not want a disruption in their daily routines while they are on the go. And for some customers who have regular sessions with their personal trainers, and go several times a week to a spin or pilates class, the opportunity to have their habits and lifestyle while they travel makes concepts like these extremely alluring — and a threat to traditional luxury hotels that usually place more emphasis on ambiance and personalized service.

    Gen Z, technology, and new lifestyles are not just changing many of the tangible luxury segments, including cars and fashion, but also are deeply disrupting travel and hospitality. I see this as an opportunity for brands who dare to lead the change. These trendsetting brands will be driving a significant demand and accelerating the shift further.

    This is an op-ed article that reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Jing Daily.

    Named one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch,” Daniel Langer is the CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité, and the executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He consults many of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several best-selling luxury management books, a global keynote speaker, and holds luxury masterclasses on the future of luxury, disruption, and the luxury metaverse in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Follow @drlanger

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