Luxury travel in the post-pandemic world

Mike Harlow, general manager of bespoke travel operator Scott Dunn, predicts luxury travel trends for 2022

While quarantine and ongoing restrictions dictated that travel looked very different in 2021, wanderlust is at an all-time high. A recent survey of our Singapore guest database, of 4,000 people, on travel aspirations for 2022 revealed that many are desperate to travel, with more than 80 per cent keen to take a minimum of two international trips this year.

In addition, with companies and employees adopting work-from-home for the past two years, more people are able to work remotely and in turn have become comfortable with the idea of serving stay-home notice/mandatory quarantines upon their return, driving the demand for travel and allowing for a wider range of destination options and longer travel periods.

Managing your travel risks
Travel is expected to remain relatively volatile as new variants continue to emerge globally. This is fuelling consumer appetite for bespoke tailor-made travel, especially for the middle and higher income segments, as they move away from DIY-ing their own trips.

Travel operators can add value by helping travellers to navigate this fast-evolving world of travel seamlessly, by settling the necessary admin and managing their travel risks.

A flexible approach to travel is key for guests to book with confidence. Additionally, offering 24/7 support is impactful in making guests feel assured to know that they are in safe and experienced hands, with a team ready to react quickly should the need arise.

We have seen an increase of new guests approaching us to deliver their first holiday after two years. And we expect this trend to continue as travel continues to evolve.

Strengthening focus on meaningful travel
With everyone having different risk appetites and reasons to venture out in such a time, we foresee a renewed focus on meaningful travel. According to the guest survey, reuniting with family/loved ones is one of the top three reasons for guests to travel and we’ve noticed an increasing number of guests looking to combine leisure travel with such trips, allowing them to spend more time together while on holiday.

From emerging travel preferences, we are forecasting these three key trends for travel in 2022:

Ed-venture: From cooking to painting, the inactivity during the pandemic has encouraged many to take up a new hobby. Dubbed “ed-venture,” this new trend of booking trips based on new interests is taking travel by storm, particularly families looking to combine education and holidays for the youngest members of the family – especially conservation trips.

Tick off the bucket list: Guests are doubling down and planning extended trips in 2022 due to postponed trips. Based on the survey, travellers seem to want to scratch their explorer itch, after staying home for a prolonged period during the pandemic. Some 29 per cent of respondents are looking forward to ticking off their extensive bucket lists in 2022 that includes epic polar expedition cruises in Antarctica and exploring the ancient Incan ruins in Peru.

Celebratory holidays – reconnecting with loved ones: Families can once again look ahead and plan epic trips to celebrate special occasions like birthdays and big anniversaries that were missed in 2021. Private yacht charters, self-drive itineraries, and exclusive-use properties will work well for multi-generational families.

As we ease into 2022, the clouds of the pandemic linger with the rise of Omicron delaying further re-openings globally. However, it’s encouraging to see a strong desire to push forward for a recovery. I look forward to the opportunities that 2022 will bring, allowing travellers to reconnect with the rest of the world again; a chance for them to reacquaint themselves with familiar haunts and to make special memories discovering new places.

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