6 Things Travelers Want from a Luxury Experience

What really creates a luxurious experience? Is it the champagne and caviar or breathtaking views? In an effort to pinpoint the exact characteristics, global travel deals publisher Travelzoo®and the Global Hotel Alliance collaborated on a survey involving more than 4,800 people from their respective membership bases.  The results were pretty astounding.

Richard Singer, Travelzoo president, Europe, discussed the findings at the recent Ultratravel Forum in London, saying, “It’s easy to assume that consumers are looking for sophisticated perks and indulgences when seeking a luxury travel experience. What our research suggests is that people really value getting the basics spot-on. The ability to properly recharge in a restful environment far exceeds other considerations, such as endorsements from famous people or high-tech gadgets. We can also see just how important gold-standard service is when it comes to luxury. In a commoditized world, travel brands should focus on this and on creating spaces for people to relax properly and switch off.”

Overall, the ultimate luxury experience isn’t that complicated. In fact, people prioritize basic amenities such as cleanliness, comfort and good service. Here are the survey’s major findings.

First-class is all about the recline  

It’s not the glitz and the glam that attracts people to first-class –it’s the seats. The survey found that the main incentive for splurging on the elite section was the ability to recline and therefore get some shut eye. This was true regardless of disposable income or average spend on travel.

Only 2 percent of British respondents, and 4 percent of Germans, listed better food and drink as the reason to go up a class. One in 10 Americans prioritized better food— still a negligible amount.

Emirates is up-and-coming

Apparently, Americans don’t feel too much loyalty toward their homegrown airline brands. Only 4.4 percent of U.S. respondents preferred American Airlines and 3.2 reported United Airlines. Emirates was mentioned the most in all markets when it comes to luxury airlines. A whopping 21 percent of U.S. respondents pointed to Emirates when questioned about luxury air travel. In England this was 31 percent, and in Germany 29 percent.

Luxury through and through isn’t necessary

More than half of all survey respondents said that they were open to “mixing and matching” when it comes to luxury, i.e. flying economy and then staying at a luxury resort, or vice-versa. Convenience was ranked as a higher priority, especially for short-haul flights. For long-haul travel, however, things were slightly different. High-income respondents cared about traditional carriers that are thought to be more luxurious for longer flights.

Celebrity influence is pretty minor

New celebrity styles may drive sales at the mall but this isn’t the case with travel. Less than 5 percent of respondents in all markets said that a celebrity sighting was an influential factor in booking a trip. Instead, American, British and German travelers stated that the most defining luxury amenities are exemplary service followed by an ideal location. For Americans, a luxury bathroom comes in third while a sizable room is third for Germans and Brits.

Cleanliness and sleep (again) matter

Unsurprisingly, respondents reported that the biggest luxury turn-off is an unclean hotel. They also reiterated their appreciation for sleep, as thin walls that prevent sleep came in second place as a luxury turn-off. Meanwhile, Germans had their own complaints, such as being most frustrated by expensive Wi-Fi.

Rolls-Royce is the queen of luxury travel

Rolls-Royce received the most mentions in an unprompted question about the ultimate luxury brand across all sectors of consumer goods and services. The runner-up was Rolex.