Indian-born and New Delhi based, Amit Kalsi runs Experiential Travel Journeys as its lead private travel designer, founder & CEO. Amit has been in the travel & tourism business for over 22 years now and is a committed and passionate traveller. He has accumulated an extensive portfolio of knowledge in organising unique travel experiences for discerning clients from his continuing work in the industry. We caught up with Amit at ILTM Cannes to get his insight on the rise of HNWIs driving luxury travel from India.
“Luxury travel from India is growing consistently and will continue to grow. It is difficult to put an exact growth percentage on it, however, since there are no organised bodies researching this claim. I feel that luxury travel exists in all generation categories but in various forms, shapes, sizes and bundles. However, if I were to shortlist a generation, predominantly Baby Boomers and Generation X are the true seekers of experiential luxury. They are more evolved and matured in their choices and definition of luxury. Their age, travel history and experiences have guided their changing and evolving mindsets over the years.
Some of the most popular regions requested by our clients include:
– Polar Regions (Antarctica, Arctic)
– South America (Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile etc.)
– Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China)
– East Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic)
– Africa (Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia)
The typical trip length for our clients is from 10 days to two weeks. The trip duration for discerning clients is increasing; they have started realising that they need to spend more time at each destination to be able to absorb it at a deeper level. We expect our clients to visit a maximum of two countries in a single trip. This is again a trend amongst our discerning luxury clients.
The average age of our clients is 55 years+ who are mature and experienced travellers. But, I can sense a discerning trend in terms of travel patterns, interests, and preferences from the 45 years level as well, which will be something to watch closely in the future.
For families, the favoured time of year to travel is from mid-May to the end of June with a short break in October, and a Christmas to New Year break in December. For others, they travel as per seasonal demand of the destination they are visiting and are not restricted by the school holidays. If a destination demands you travel in August, they shall plan and adjust their work and life schedules accordingly.
We prefer DMCs that are boutique, owner driven (supervised) and destination experts with established connections. If they are part of an established network, this gives you a confidence in their ability to deliver and exceed service standards. They should be able to offer the right balance of value and personalised service. Discerning clients are travelling to remote locations, taking once in a lifetime trips, visiting locations that are exotic, unique, and exclusive. Therefore, you need the right partners in such locales to be able to execute their travels.
Hotel choice is very client centric, we can have our own portfolio of preferred hotels, but in the end, it’s the clients’ taste and preferences that decide on the final selection. For some clients, creature comforts are most important even while visiting remote locations. For example, we have a client who has always wanted to visit Rwanda to see the gorillas. Two years since he first expressed his desire to visit Rwanda, he is now booked on a wilderness safari staying at Bisate Lodge, which matches his expectation of high luxury standards.
For others, destination and experience is more important, they are willing to give up creature comforts and the luxury they are accustomed to in more established locations or bigger global cities. That said, the discerning clients from India, baring a very few, would not rough it out as backpackers would do. A decent level of comfort is important for them before they decide to take the plunge into a truly experiential holiday. Let’s call it “high-end experiential travel”.
For discerning clients, the top activities requested are all surrounding experiential travel. They have heard about it, they have tasted it or they are tasting it now and their preferences and mindsets are changing accordingly. They are ready to experiment, travel out of their comfort zone and try out new activities. With them, nothing is standardised or traditional, they want to do the same things differently or try out new things, including; cooking classes, meeting and eating with locals, soft to moderate level adventure pursuits, and specialised guides for art, culture and heritage. Shopping, beach and city sightseeing will always be on agenda, as part of their experiential trip, but this will never overshadow their main purpose.”