LOS ANGELES — What are your luxury clients looking for in a once-in-a-lifetime getaway in 2016?
Cox & Kings’ annual ‘What’s Next’ forecast highlights worldwide travel trends including ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, ‘The UnGoogable’ and ‘Friends With Benefits’ shaped by the company’s early adopter clients.
“In 2016 we will see the guest change how they are using their time when in these locations. The immersive cultural experience will be more personalized, and include their families,” said Scott Wiseman, President, Cox & Kings, The Americas. “Our guests want to stroll city streets as locals do and take more time to celebrate the actual journey rather than moving swiftly from one locale to the next. ”
Here’s Cox & Kings’ take on travel trends for 2016.
Where to Next?
While South America “is still the darling” of the experiential traveller, Cox & Kings guests are diving deeper and wanting to explore Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador. However, Central America is giving it a run for its money with rising interest in El Salvador and Guatemala. “In Europe, we are also seeing a whole new group of trending locations emerge, far from the usual suspects,” said Wiseman. Next year look for Sardinia, The Baltics – Estonia, Lithuania & Latvia, Poland; The Balkans, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and The Caucasus – Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan, he adds.
More recently, Cox & Kings Destination Experts find themselves fulfilling their guests’ desires to explore a destination via their personal passion, says Wiseman. “These experiences seem to broaden their understanding of a culture and create a more intimate relationship with that country.” Whether it is requesting tickets to a sold out baseball game in Japan, taking a motorcycle journey through Patagonia, textile shopping in remote India or a private polo lesson in Argentina, today’s traveller is limited only by their imagination, he says. “Our greatest is joy is to present our guests with an experience they could not have discovered on Google or have planned on their own.”
Tales of the City
Historically, the mindset of many travelers was to get as far from the city as possible so they could see and feel the rural countryside. Over the last year, there has been an increase in travelers wanting to more deeply explore the urban landscape, whether large or small, in whatever destination they are visiting. With this resurgence, Cox & Kings’ destination managers have handcrafted programs to meet this rising demand, including Tales Of The South China Sea (Seoul, Taipei & Okinawa), Colonial Bolivia (La Paz, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosi), Japan’s History & Traditions (Hiroshima, Osaka), Regal India (Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Hyderabad), and Storybook Cities: Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, & Budapest.
Where the Wild Things Are
Family travel has definitely undergone a makeover as parents are choosing far-flung family-friendly journeys over beaches and theme parks, says Wiseman. “Parents want their children to experience the thrill of Safari and get up close with the Giant Tortoises in the Galapagos. So, with that in mind, our Destination Experts, who thrive on creating journeys that engage the entire group regardless of age, have created journeys such as Brazil Wildlife Safari, Thailand Family Adventure, and Peru & Galapagos: Legends & Explorations to really push the envelope.” South America’s Eastern Standard (or Central Time) is perfect for keeping younger children on schedule and certain regions of South Africa offer a malaria-free safari option, he adds.
Friends with Benefits
“More and more we see couples choosing to travel with another couple and families bringing along friends,” said Wiseman. “This is why we launched new pricing flexibility, so small private groups can realize the savings by sharing fixed costs that they may not have realized otherwise.” The company’s new Banded Pricing, based on two or four people traveling, reveals savings up to $1,000 per person for a group of four versus just two people traveling. Many Cox & Kings journeys also now feature flexible pricing for the accommodations portion of the journey with Elite and Preferred hotel options.
Earlier this year Cox & Kings launched a collection of three-night single destination trips named Spotlight Journeys in Europe. Now travellers view these itineraries not as add-ons but rather as stand-alone itineraries and as an opportunity to zero in on one destination, says Wiseman. “There are so many great destinations that are usually overlooked and our guests want to visit them all in the same way they would a larger destination,” says Wiseman. “Given the popularity of our European Spotlight Journeys, we’ve expanded the concept to North America, India, Africa and Latin America, and added more than 45 standalone, three- to five-day journeys.”
Slow Ride, Take it Easy
From train travel to river cruising, guests seem to be celebrating the journey as much as the destination, and wanting to see a destination from a different vantage point, he notes. “Taking the time to see to see a place from the viewpoint of a train or a river, makes a huge difference. So this year we added five new train journeys across the globe including Switzerland, India and France.” European river cruises are being booked a year in advance, sometimes even longer, he added.
Out of Africa’s Tourist Routes
Repeat guests on safari know that in the large public reserves they can get stuck in a traffic jam of game-viewing vehicles all trying to jockey for positioning to spot the illusive leopard they’ve been waiting days to see. Guests are now more frequently choosing private game reserves and the more remote National Parks in Africa as they offer the best in accommodations as well as more flexibility in terms of wildlife viewing, says Wiseman. “The more we have clients experience the raw nature of Africa by staying in private game reserves, without all the crowds and typical park traffic, the more appreciation they have for the region, its people and the wildlife,” he adds. For 2016-2017 Cox & Kings is launching a series of new itineraries that feature smaller lodges on private concessions and in National Parks that feature lesser known, but higher valued experiences in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.