Glion Institute of Higher Education partnered with The New York Times Luxury Travel conference, which took place on 1-2 December at the Grand Hyatt Singapore.

For this event, Glion sent representatives to exchange ideas with global thought leaders at this crucial summit to explore the future of luxury travel. Meeting at the iconic Grand Hyatt Singapore, Times journalists and influential thinkers from the worlds of travel, hospitality, technology, retail, fine dining, and more, came together to share insider insights into the luxury trends, innovations, strategies and challenges that are redefining the industry at a time of unprecedented demographic and social change. Here are the highlights.

Asian tourism will continue to boost luxury sectors

Melissa Ow, Deputy Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board, outlined some new research on Asian tourism. For example, Asia is experiencing rapid advancement and purchasing power for luxury travel, 40% of global outbound travel spend will be from Asia by 2020. Singapore is seeing an increase in spend in indulgences and experiences.

Space travel is an exclusive frontier in luxury travel

Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor Virgin Galatic, joined from NASA after working as a spacewalk system manager for the International Space Station. She discussed that space travel is a very rare experience (only 558 people have ever been in space) and that customers are not just wanting an experience but also to help contribute to the development of space flight.

Authenticity is key to attracting luxury customers

Authentic hospitality and how to create it was the focus of the first panel with Andreas Kohn, VP Sales and Marketing Capella Hotel group, who said that people are at the center of authentic hospitality. Eddie Teh, GM Belmond Hotels and Cruises said that highly customized travel is important based on knowledge and data of the customer, an experience is important versus a visit. Loh Pik Peng, Founder and Director Unlisted Collection said all stakeholders need to be responsible for ensuring authenticity.

Asian millennials spend big on shopping and food

A look at Asian millennial luxury travelers, with Amrita Banta, Managing Director and Co-Founder Agility Research and Strategy, who pointed out that ‘Service is the new luxury’. For this group, travel spend is a large portion of disposable income with shopping and restaurants being most favored when traveling.

Sustainable luxury respects local lands and cultures

James McBride, Managing Partner Nihi Resorts and Burch Creative Capital led a great panel discussion around sustainability and community engagement. James also runs the Nihi resort on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. He works with the Sumba Hospitality Foundation which Glion is also collaborating with and the Glion Charity Committee has raised funds for the foundation this year. James emphasized the need to be highly respectful of local people, culture and the land.

Luxury lifestyle services are growing

It was also great to see a Glion alumnus on one of the panel discussions – the technology revolution. John Blanco, co-founder and CEO of Afini. Based in Singapore, John has established an exclusive destination club. Membership based, it offers a personal lifestyle consultant who can arrange highly personalized and unique travel experiences.

Travelers want transformation and education

Antoine Chahwan, RVP and GM Four Seasons Hotel Singapore said that travelers are perhaps now looking for a transformational experience that involves learning.

The taste for fine dining is evolving

The discussions around fine dining and F&B as a luxury sector were interesting considering the first day’s research findings which showed that food and dining is one of the highest areas of spend during travel. Janice Wong (center) is a renowned Singaporean chef specializing in desserts and runs restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. She said people remember the experience the most with taste and flavor being memorable. Woman are increasing influential on where to dine and the overall trend is on awareness about what’s in our food and nutrition. MPS Puri (right) Chief Executive, Nira Hotels and Resorts said food and culinary is an important part of all our lives. Trend being seen is that customers are mindful of what is authentic and what is locally sourced.

Food and wine are cornerstones of luxury travel

Yolanda Perdomo, Director of UNWTO Affiliate Members Programme, presented some key facts from the range of UNWTO reports. Studies show that with spend on luxury goods being challenged, increased spend on food and beverage experiences had resulted in the rise of culinary tourism.The UNWTO is working with member states to promote an authentic experience in their countries with a focus on providing a learning experience. The themes of food and wine are becoming the cornerstones of luxury travel.

Consumers want a “true”environment and digital detox

Yann Deblle de Montby (right), founder of his own design agency in Shanghai, stressed the importance of a luxury brand to tells its story through design of the physical environment. Brands should stay true to their roots and values. Petter Neby (center) founder and CEO of Punkt talked about the desire by many to have a ‘digital detox’ – going back to simplicity.

The conference was wrapped up with some light-hearted experiences from Simon Thomas, Head Concierge The Lanesborough London.

Thanks to Scott Noble, Glion Global Marketing Director, and Vivien Ivanyi, Business Development and Partnerships Manager, for flying the Glion flag and gathering this intelligence for us.

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Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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