Google travel head: 'luxury growth fuelled by younger audiences'

: 0cm 0cm 10pt; font-size: medium; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; line-height: 12.65pt;">Luxury brands need to be ready for a growing market of younger holidaymakers who want to book online instead of going into a high street travel agency.

Currently, luxury customers tend to research online and book in store, and are less seasonal in terms of when they look for holidays, according to Ruairidh Roberts, senior industry head of travel, Google.

He cited figures from Bain & Company showing 85% of the growth of luxury market in 2017 was fuelled by a younger, aspirational audience of generation Y and Z holidaymakers.

“They would like to have the option to book online and if you keep directing them to the store there will be a growing audience who want to do everything online and they will go to a competitor,” he warned.

Roberts said there had been a 20% growth in ‘luxury’ related searches on Google in 2017 compared with the previous year, with 62% of retail searches for luxury products taking place on a mobile phone.

However, the majority of purchases took place in a shop in 2017.

“Every customer I work with uses digital as a route to purchase: 75% of luxury purchases are influenced by digital but 91% of luxury purchases take place in store (Bain & Company).

Roberts added 64% of luxury holidaymakers preferred a package holiday where everything was included, compared to 35% booking accommodation and travel separately (Mintel Luxury Travel Report, November 2016.)   [*doesn’t add up to 100% because 1% said ‘no preference’]. 

“Luxury means not having to do everything themselves; the majority steer clear of booking separately where you have to do all the aspects yourself,” he said.

In terms of their priorities, activities and facilities such as spa treatments and access to a private pool or beach, were far more important to the luxury traveller than transport to their holiday.

According to Mintel’s Luxury Travel Report in November 2016, 29% of respondents said spa and beauty treatments were important; 27% said private pools; 24% said access to a private beach from a seafront accommodation, and 21% gourmet standard dining. Business class air travel was important to 16%.

This backs up the current trend for experiences in the luxury sector, he said.

“The whole of the luxury market is being driven by experiences. It used to be destination, then price. These days the experience is leading in growth, and destination is less important,” he said.

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