NEW YORK, April 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading luxury travel network, Virtuoso®, today unveiled the much anticipated 2012 Virtuoso Luxe Report. Virtuoso's elite travel agency membership provided input for the annual survey, which is recognized throughout the industry as a respected trend-predictor for luxury travel based on insight garnered from some of the most upscale travelers in the world.
Findings indicate that Virtuoso's client base is a well-seasoned force, not easily dissuaded by rising fuel prices and hotel costs, as is evident by its continued support of Europe. Italy and France ranked as two of the most popular international destinations, with England joining the top five on this prestigious list for the first time. Similarly, Virtuoso's clientele showed a strong desire to explore new, undiscovered destinations with Cuba, for the first time ever, topping the polls as the most popular emerging destination. Similarly, Cambodia and Belize made their debut as new additions to this category, marking a distinct trend towards more intrepid travel locations than in previous years.
This year's report demonstrates that international travel continues to be the most popular type of trip in 2012, with high-end river cruises being named as the second of five biggest emerging travel trends, just behind family and multigenerational travel, which continues to sell strong among the upscale traveler and takes the number one spot in this category.
Unsurprisingly, following the boom in luxe hotels in Miami over the past 18 months, Miami and predominantly South Beach joined the list of top five U.S. destinations, coming in at number five on the list after Maui, New York City, Napa Valley & Sonoma and Las Vegas.
For families traveling in 2012, joining Italy and England, which ranked highly in 2011, were Turks & Caicos and South Africa, both were first time arrivals to the family travel list replacing Alaska. Also included in this category were Hawaii and Costa Rica.
The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia and France; however, the 2012 report saw both Bali and the Seychelles join the top five, again demonstrating that long haul travel is not a problem for hopeless romantics seeking their piece of paradise.
Of those booking travel, top motives influencing travel choices were similar to those in the 2011 Luxe Report including: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; and personal enrichment – further supporting the increase of family travel, which remained the biggest travel trend in the 2012 report.
The Luxe Report also affirms the value that high-end travelers place on working with a professional travel advisor. When booking vacations, Virtuoso found that the largest influences on consumers' travel decisions are recommendations from friends and family combined with their travel consultant's advice on the right destination, the offer of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and also value for money paid.
"The Virtuoso traveler continues to look for new resorts and destinations to visit, personal enrichment and tailored experiences from their travels," says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC. "Whether it's a desire to explore new lands, reconnect with loved ones or seek new adventures, Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to plan the ultimate travel experience. The Luxe Report is an extension of that relationship and those ongoing advisor-client conversations."
Key of findings from the 2012 Virtuoso Luxe Report are outlined below:
What are the five biggest travel trends emerging for 2012?
- Family and multi-generational travel
- River cruises
- Active or adventure trips
- Luxury cruises
- Celebration travel
What are the five most popular international destinations for travelers in 2012?
- South Africa
What are the top five U.S. destinations where you expect to send travelers in 2012?
- New York City
- Napa Valley / Sonoma
- Las Vegas
- Miami / South Beach
What are the five most popular "emerging destinations," meaning those on the cusp of becoming popular, either for the first time or all over again in 2012?
- Galapagos Islands
What do you anticipate are the top five most popular destinations for family travel in 2012?
- Costa Rica
- Turks & Caicos; South Africa
What are the five most popular cruise itineraries for 2012?
- European River
- Greek Isles
What are the five most popular destinations for romantic getaways in 2012?
- French Polynesia
What are the five most popular destinations for adventure travel in 2012?
- South Africa
- Costa Rica
- Galapagos Islands
- New Zealand
What are the top reasons clients are traveling in 2012?
- Seeking authentic experiences in new destinations
- Rest & Relaxation
- Personal enrichment (e.g. voluntourism, cultural experience, learning, etc.)
- Spending time or reconnecting with loved ones
- Discovering new experiences in previously visited (or more familiar) destinations
- Seeking adventure
Rank the most important determining factors for your clients' when choosing a vacation:
- The right destination
- Once-in-a-lifetime experiences
- Value for money paid
- The activities available
Advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies were invited to take the survey in December 2011 and January 2012. Results were tabulated from more than 420 responses from the United States and Canada. A digital version of the full survey results can be found here: http://www.virtuoso.com/thecompany/luxereport2012/.