Kayla AtwaterKayla Atwater

In recent years, a notable shift has emerged in the preferences of discerning travelers, moving away from solely seeking high-end accommodations and instead prioritizing meaningful experiences. Whether it’s a desire for personal growth, experiential learning or genuine connections, discerning travelers are increasingly seeking out unique opportunities to connect with destinations—and the people amongst them—on a deeper level.

This changing landscape has brought about a new definition of luxury travel, one that goes beyond upscale guestrooms and fine dining and focuses on the intangible elements of unforgettable moments. As luxury travel trends continue to evolve, it’s important to recognize these shifting preferences and adapt our PR strategies to effectively cater to this redefined market.

The shift beyond materialism

Luxury travel is no longer solely defined by physical spaces and material offerings. Today’s luxury travelers yearn for experiences that are immersive, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings in a more hands-on and interactive way. Through the rise of the “experience economy,” the experiential value of the trip is held to a higher regard than the actual cost, and luxury travelers are willing to spend more for those that they deem truly special.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's July '23 Travel & Tourism PR Magazine
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To cater to these preferences, travel providers must evaluate their offerings to ensure they provide enriching benefits and elevate the perception of luxury. As travel PR professionals, we are consistently working with our clients to suggest new and innovative ways to meet the evolving demands of luxury travelers. From incredible behind-the-scenes tours with local experts to private cooking classes with renowned chefs, discerning travelers are turning to exclusive opportunities that offer true escapes from the ordinary.

Authentic cultural immersions

Cultural immersions have become a cornerstone of luxury travel. One of the most important aspects of cultural immersions is incredible culinary experiences, offering a further look into the heart and soul of a destination. Culinary adventures that allow travelers to sample authentic local dishes, learn about traditional cooking techniques and celebrate locally sourced ingredients are at the top of many luxury travelers’ lists during the trip planning process, as the industry shifts to more authentic pursuits.

Another way that travelers are embracing cultural immersions is through the opportunity to give back while on their trips. Volunteering or participating in community engagement initiatives has been brought to the forefront of many travelers’ minds, especially after the pandemic, inspiring them to leave behind a positive impact on the local communities that they visit. Whether it’s participating in conservation efforts, supporting local businesses, or contributing to sustainable tourism initiatives, travelers more than ever recognize the significance and value this adds to not only their overall experience but the economy as a whole.

Tailor-made experiences

Undoubtedly, personalization is a key factor in the preferences of discerning travelers. Luxury travelers have come to expect customized experiences that cater to their unique interests. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all itineraries and standard vacation packages. It’s paramount to provide the personalized touches that transform their trips into once-in-a-lifetime memories that resonate with what they value most.

When it comes to personalization, a highly skilled concierge is an invaluable resource, enabling travelers to have a key point of contact that anticipates their needs. Luxury travelers, known for their meticulous attention to detail, place great importance on knowing that they have a dedicated professional working tirelessly to make their trip exceptional.

To navigate the ever-expanding world of options and rising complexities of the trip planning process, many luxury travelers are also turning to the help of travel advisors to ensure a truly personalized experience. Discerning travelers recognize the value of expert knowledge and the insider access that travel advisors can provide. According to a recent annual research report by financial services company Flywire, 81 percent of respondents said that working with travel experts is the only way to have a true luxury travel experience. Furthermore, 67 percent said they could not imagine traveling without an agent/advisor, with 62 percent citing the benefits of agents’ ability to take care of everything.

The role of PR

PR professionals play a crucial role in capturing the attention of this highly selective audience. To effectively reach luxury travelers, firstly, it’s essential to recognize the importance of storytelling and narrative-driven communications. As luxury travelers are no longer merely looking for products or services, our PR messaging aims to highlight the transformative power of travel and evoke emotions that go beyond traditional marketing tactics.

Another key strategy to reach luxury travelers through PR is by establishing thought leadership. Discerning travelers often turn to the advice of trusted resources and industry experts to curate their travel experiences. By highlighting the faces behind our clients as authorities in the luxury travel space, our PR efforts can foster credibility and build brand trust.

To amplify a brand’s visibility, we do this by arranging executive interviews on trending relevant topics, securing speaker roles at industry conferences, submitting bylined articles to target industry publications and hosting intimate media events to share valuable insights, among many other tactics.

The expectations of discerning travelers will continue to redefine luxury travel, however, the importance of unique experiences will hold strong. With the value of the global luxury travel market anticipated to rise at a considerable rate, from $1.4 trillion in 2022 to $3.3 trillion by 2032 (according to findings from Acumen Research and Consulting), the future of luxury travel lies in striking a balance between the material and experiential components. As luxury brands adapt their offerings and strive to stand out in the competitive landscape, travel PR professionals are ready to craft strategic storytelling and develop stand-out campaigns to promote this redefined means of luxury.


Kayla Atwater is Associate Vice President of the Travel and Tourism division at Hemsworth Communications