Quick Takes on Travel: Part VII


A Look into the World’s Most Resilient Travelers.

Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir, explains how ultra-high-net-worth travelers are blazing their own trails in the next evolution of luxury experiences and Greg Oates, SVP, Innovation, MMGY NextFactor, defines why resilience, not just sustainability, will be key to long-term success in tourism strategy.

Read their quick takes below and click here for even more in-depth research, insights and webinars.

How will travel brands need to shift their experience in order to meet the needs of luxury travelers?

Our clients are already seeing surges of people asking for more curated, tailor-made plans more than ever before. But I believe that they’re doing things slightly differently. We’re sourcing new partnerships for clients to make life as easy and safe as possible for that luxury traveler: working with private jet companies, hygiene companies, medical companies – and tying those links together like never before. We have one client that’s worked closely with Lloyds of London. As soon as COVID-19 broke out, they were in discussions on how to offer their luxury clients special travel insurance. We’re seeing the luxury travel market in the early stages of recovery and doing clever, collaborative things that guests are buying into.

-Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir

Are these needs being driven by consumers, or are the decisions coming from the top among industry leaders?  

There are standout leaders and entrepreneurs who have a very clear vision, and they know what their luxury clients would want and need. They can see it before their clients can see it sometimes. What you have to remember is that distancing has always been part of their lives through private holiday homes, private villas, private floors in hotels. So it’s going to be a continuation of that theme.

-Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir

Is this an opportunity for travel advisors to hone in on the luxury market?

Operators in the luxury sector are finding that people want contact with one person that they trust. Everything from complete takeovers from hotels to complete takeovers of jets, and having that one individual to sort it all out. I think advisors can provide a very interesting service in the upscale market.

-Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir

How important will sustainability be going forward in luxury travel?

Only a year ago we were talking about the fact that the luxury guest doesn’t really ask about sustainability and giving back. I think that question is being asked now, and it probably wasn’t being asked before. For luxury holiday curators, agents and concierges, I think it’s the duty for them to sell that as part of their holiday package. I think it will encourage people to travel in a more considered way, with more meaning and possibly better travels.

-Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir

Are luxury travelers also looking for great value in the short-term?

With the ultra-high-net-worth travelers, I don’t think that’s as much of a consideration. They put safety first, and getting three nights for the price of two is not going to be on their radar. But I think at the next level – the high-net-worth traveler – they will be looking at places they might not have gone to before because of encouraging deals to entice people back. That could be a huge opportunity to get people to go to some really exciting destinations in the future.

-Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir

We know that in the U.S. the first wave of travel will be regional and close to home. What does that look like in the UK luxury market?

From a British perspective, we’re a nation of travelers. We’re calling it the “bubble transfer” as certain countries are partnering to open up travel. It’s a little bit like building bridges slowly to connect to each country. The discussions are underway in which the UK would potentially bubble in with France. Greece wants to bubble in because the UK is massive to their tourism industry. It’s a very recent term that’s come to light over here because it describes the methodology quite well.

-Claire Griffin, Partner and Managing Director of MMGY Grifco and Ophir

What do you think consumers are seeking right now to inspire confidence in travel?

I think what customers are looking for right now as we enter the early phases of recovery – coming out of this pandemic – health and safety is first and foremost. Destinations are taking on this role as trust merchants, where it’s paramount for them to work with communities to establish protocols, communicate those protocols to potential visitors feel safe when they come to the destinations. What we’re seeing now is that the travel industry and hospitality industry are working together with government  and health organizations to really establish standard protocols for everyone in the destination to adopt. That way, when the visitor comes to the destination or is researching the destination, there’s not conflicting messages and I think that goes a long way in establishing that level of trust.

-Greg Oates, SVP, Innovation, MMGY NextFactor

Are sustainability and corporate responsibility something that we should be embracing moving forward?

I don’t know if there’s a more problematic word in the entire scope of the visitor economy than “sustainability.” So many times, at least in a mainstream conversation, you bring up sustainability, the automatic connotation revolves around environment and resource management. But really when we look at sustainability we’re looking at much more holistically in terms of economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability—looking at those long-term impacts for the destination. what we’re seeing now is a shift toward resilience. We know clearly every 5, 10 years there’s major disruptions to the visitor economy, so how can we prepare for that? That’s really that’s how we’re coming at resilience now. Communities will continue to experience shocks, whether that’s climate or economic, a lot of issues around inequality. So how can the tourism industry work with community organizations, work with the government to see the future and try and build a more resilient visitor economy and more of a resilient local economy, and really align community tourism and economic development.

-Greg Oates, SVP, Innovation, MMGY NextFactor