Lisa Fitzell, managing director of Elegant Resorts, speaks to Globetrender about the rise in six-figure holidays, the growing allure of all-inclusive family vacations and why luxury travel companies need to pay more attention to TikTok.

What are Elegant Resorts’ areas of expertise?

Every holiday we put together is designed personally for each individual client. Each of our team members has an average of 25 years of experience, and travels extensively to ensure they get under the skin of a destination, allowing us to offer the best experiences.

Our relationships with our supplier partners allow us to offer added value, and our dedicated concierge team acts as an extension of our service, offering clients a seamless experience from start to finish. They can arrange anything from VIP meet-and-greet airport assistance, to private beach dinners. We also have dedicated teams in Barbados, Antigua and Mauritius.

Who is your typical client?

Our typical clients are high-net-worth individuals who are time poor and appreciate the finer details that make a holiday seamless. They rely on us to organise all their travel needs whether that be a UK staycation, cruise, or multi-centre itinerary. They typically live in the south-east of the UK and range from retired industry leaders or business owners to high-flying professionals. They are well-travelled and don’t like to compromise on service and cuisine.

Our client base is, however, evolving, and as we continue to expand our portfolio, we have seen the average age reduce, and more families travelling with us. This new and younger demographic is focused on value as well as service, with all-inclusive options becoming more popular.One&Only

How do you build loyalty among your clients?

Each client is account managed by a travel lifestyle specialist and relationships are based on trust and really understanding their needs. Trusting that we offer the best advice, knowledge and ultimately value, clients appreciate the service of our dedicated concierge team. This is supported by the rest of our team to ensure every client receives VIP treatment throughout the booking process and when they are away. They also know that if they need support unexpectedly, we will be there via WhatsApp, text, email or phone.

Our business culture is centred around excellence, continually improving, and putting the client at the heart of all the decisions we make, resulting in referrals being our largest source of new business. For our most loyal and high-spending clients, we have the Chairman’s Club, which is a loyalty rewards-based programme where we continuously engage with them in person at events over the course of the year.

What were your most popular trips and destinations in 2023?

Barbados has been our number-one destination for 2023, followed very closely by the islands of Greece and the Spanish regions of the Costa Del Sol and Canary Islands. We’ve seen a significant growth in cruise holidays throughout the year; and multi-centre holidays across South Africa and the US have been very popular.

What booking patterns do you predict for the months ahead?

As the economy is still uncertain, we are predicting a continual trend toward booking holidays late within three months of departure, or much further out outside of nine months. However, January and February continue to be our peak booking months.

Download the free Elegant Resorts x Globetrender ‘Luxury Horizons’ trend report here

Luxury Horizons trend report

What is the typical spend and trip length among clients?

Our clients typically spend an average of £21,000 on their holidays, and travel for an average of nine days. They currently take an average of three holidays per year, which include short- and long-haul, as well as a city break or ski holiday.

What percentage of your clients spend over £100k on a single trip?

High-value bookings have grown exponentially during the past few years with more clients travelling with multiple generations. We can expect around 5% of our bookings to be over £100k.

What are people looking for from a tailormade trip with Elegant Resorts?

Something unique that truly immerses them within a destination and connects them with local cultures, cuisines, and unique experiences. They also seek exclusive experiences that are designed for them alone. We have a team of expert guides in all of our destinations, and we are receiving more requests for private viewings of key attractions, uncrowded viewing points and one-to-one experiences with local communities and wildlife.

How are client needs and desires changing?

The price of luxury holidays has increased by 30% since 2019 and clients’ expectations are higher in terms of the service and standards they receive. There is also a feeling of not compromising on the number of holidays or experiences since the pandemic. There is more of an urgency to make memories together and take those holidays they have always wanted to.

How are older, retired travellers travelling?

Cruise holidays are increasing in popularity and the new luxury lifestyle ships are attracting first-time cruisers who want ease of travel to multiple destinations. We are also seeing our older travellers take advantage of our seamless airport concierge service where we escort clients from their vehicle right to the aircraft on both sides – this takes away any anxiety about travelling and provides a flawless way of navigating busy airports.

How are you engaging with Gen Z travellers?

Our marketing is most definitely evolving to ensure we are reaching and engaging with Gen Z travellers. We are keen to introduce our brand to this generation at a much younger point than we’ve ever done before, to get them to engage with our company and take them on our journey through mid to lower funnel channels predominantly on social media. This acts as a long-term brand strategy and has also resulted in clients now being influenced by this generation in terms of where and what experiences they desire from a holiday.

TikTok has been introduced as a key channel for us, and many members of our team are also within this demographic so have the skills and knowledge to produce content that performs well on social.

What trends have you been noticing among Gen Y travellers?

Millennials are much more digitally savvy than older generations, so it’s about educating them on the additional services and added value they can receive through Elegant Resorts. When it comes to multi-centre holidays, they have done lots of research and know where they would like to go, but they need the guidance and expertise of our team to pull it all together for them, with the security that a tour operator can offer. It’s also then up to us to demonstrate the differentiation with the experiences we can offer.

How are luxury family vacations evolving?

Younger families are looking for good value, and don’t worry about paying for it as long as they have everything locked into the price. This is why premium all-inclusives are becoming so popular, and we’re seeing more hotels offering this option. It’s also not always about traditional kid’s clubs – families want to feel more connected to destinations via cooking classes or visits to community projects, for example.

We are also seeing more extended families travelling together, with larger combined budgets. They are seeking activities that are suitable for all ages, with accommodation that works for each too. Sometimes that could be many rooms within a resort to take advantage of all of the facilities on offer, or large villas that have space, privacy and facilities for each generation.

What do you predict for the future of luxury travel over the next five to ten years?

Research tells us the luxury travel market is predicted to grow 7.6% per year until 2030 and we will see more destinations and hotel groups investing in the luxury traveller.

New destinations such as Saudi Arabia will attract a range of clients looking for truly unique experiences that they combine into one holiday and more traditional destinations will evolve their product to connect more with local communities and experiences.

Finally, sustainability will be at the heart of everything, with more focus on reducing waste, buying and growing local produce, reducing carbon footprints, and creating individual experiences to combat overtourism.