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Luxury insight from Sarah Miller, Conde Nast Traveller

What does luxury mean to different people? How are luxury buyers changing? These are just two of the areas discussed by Sarah Miller, editor of Conde Nast Traveller and publishing director Simon Leadsford at a presentation at bgb this week. Key trends highlighted by Sarah Miller included:

  • The need to continue to deliver the best levels of service and value during the recession. Short-term price will be a big factor, but value is more important than discounts and customers don't want to compromise on quality. Sarah described luxury as quality of time. Luxury is a much overused phrase and should mean authentic, bespoke and service
  • Conde Nast Traveller website will relaunch this October with many more features to connect with luxury consumers. A magazine and website like Conde Nast Traveller can also help time-poor travellers by providing an edited view of the world.
  • A change in the way luxury consumers research their travel in the past decade as more information has moved online. Where research was once tackled by more women than men, many more men are now clicking online doing the research and then discussing booking with their partners.
  • Gap year travellers of today are the luxury consumers of the future. But new generations are better travelled and more experienced than any generation before them. They've been up Machu Pichu, worked on a cattle farm in Australia, done voluntary work overseas. By comparison Sarah said her most exotic trip as a student was a car trip through Spain. The way we as an industry talk to and deliver services and standards for new generations of luxury travellers will have to change
  • Younger luxury travellers are not only focused on destinations but the intense experiences they can have when they are overseas - such as amazing active skiing in the Dolomites
  • Ethical travel, driven by younger customers' concerns will be increasingly important. They won't want to be preached to but will expect guilt-free travel and that their travel provider will have done its best to minimize any negative impacts and ensure money goes into the local economy
  • Products and services selling well now to readers of Conde Nast Traveller include train travel, small ships, "the near far" of destinations like Eastern Europe where you can discover something exotic, low-cost flights and non Eurozone destinations such as Turkey and Egypt.
  • Simon Leadsford, Conde Nast Traveller publishing director described the reaction of their readers as a "flight to quality". While they are changing travel plans they are still travelling. He proudly confessed to being a man who took and continued to take five holidays a year. He felt travel was affected later and less than other luxury sectors such as cars, cosmetics, beauty and luxury retail and said he saw signs of an upturn this autumn but predicted 2010 would not be back to 2008 levels, but would be moving towards it.

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