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The Evolution of Luxury Tourism: At the Roots of Experiential Tourism

Especially in the world of high-end tourism, memorable experiences have become the most valuable currency. These travelers are indeed seeking emotions based on unique and authentic experiences that leave a lasting impression.

In general, this condition is driving more and more people to prefer investing in intangible consumer goods rather than material ones.

The research group Amit Kumar from Cornell University explains this well. They summarized the results of research on consumer needs (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 05/2020) as follows: "Material purchases concern money spent to 'have' things like clothes, jewelry, furniture, gadgets, and so on. Experiential purchases, however, involve money spent to 'do,' such as tickets for concerts or theater, vacations, or dining out." 

In general, experiential consumption tends to provide more lasting satisfaction than material consumption.

Experiences are less resistant to adaptation processes, constitute a larger part of one's identity, and foster successful social relationships.

People also talk more about their experiential purchases and derive greater benefits from them.

Moreover, the greater satisfaction people derive from experiences is evident over a long time span: we not only enjoy our experiences but also anticipate them with great enthusiasm and joy.

"As markets mature and people age, materialism becomes less important, while time and enrichment become fundamental," says Ian Yeoman, Travel Futurologist. "This is a particularly important feature in European and American markets: from Maslow's perspective, it is about Self-Actualization."

In this ever-changing new context, the traditional concept of luxury, which traditionally evokes the celebration of the superfluous, the ephemeral, and the unconditional excess, is transcended by a new dimension that seeks exclusivity in the authenticity of personalized experiences encompassing art, history, tradition, refinement, harmony, well-being, and innovation.

From the luxury segment, a new market has emerged, unstructured, liquid, and transversal across many segments. 

This is the new high-end tourism of which the luxury sector is a part, and driven by the pursuit of experiences, it is exponentially growing outside the frameworks of the industrial system.

High-end and luxury are thus two market segments and two concepts that are seemingly similar but very different in content.

A luxury product/service is always high-end, but a high-end product/service is not necessarily always a luxury product. 

From the perspective of travel, this process is synthesized in the development of two macro trends:

  • The convergence in the high-spending market of new flows of travelers who are not necessarily wealthy but have a medium-high to high cultural level, willing to spend significant amounts for a valuable travel experience.

  • The evolution of the luxury segment, which is rapidly opening up to factors no longer strictly tied to wealth and its stereotypes, but to a new, culturally elevated, and creative vision of travel.

To delve deeper into how experiential tourism is redefining the luxury sector, explore "The Silent Revolution" by Giancarlo Leporatti. Check out the 2024 edition in the Library of Eureka MICE International [].


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