Posts by: Meryam Schneider

As VP of Marketing & Partnerships at Altiant, Meryam Schneider devises the digital strategy for Altiant and its affluent online panel community, LuxuryOpinions. Meryam has been providing leadership related to marketing and communication for more than 15 years in media, financial services & luxury fields. She oversees the daily management of activities with industry partners.

Global Heatmap: How COVID-19 Will Shape 2021

Global Heatmap: How COVID-19 Will Shape 2021

This week’s Global Heatmap looks at how COVID-19 will continue to shape HNW individuals travel intentions for the year ahead, and what this means for the luxury travel industry.

A Little Bit About Altiant and the Global Heatmap

ILTM’s Global Heatmap is a new monthly series created by ILTM’s resident consumer analyst, Meryam Schneider of Altiant. Altiant is a fieldwork specialist that empowers insight experts and marketers working within the luxury goods and wealth management industries to gain a deeper understanding of their audience. Each month, Meryam will be drawing insights from a unique HNW sample-set collected through Altiant’s highly-selective proprietary panel, LuxuryOpinions®. In this piece, Meryam will be looking at new data from Q3 2020 taken from Altiant’s quarterly Global Luxury & Asset Management Monitor (GLAM).

A Heavily Impacted Industry

As expected, COVID-19 has led to a noticeable fall in the share of wealthy respondents saying that they had travelled within the past 12 months. From an average of around 86% in 2018 and 2019, this share dropped to 80% in Q2 2020, where it stayed for the past quarter. This figure is likely to drop a little further in the next quarter, and potentially also into early 2021. While some travellers used the relaxing of lockdown rules to make some trips over summer, others are remaining cautious, and are likely to continue doing so in the coming months:

“My family will be renting a yacht for an extended family vacation late summer, so we can limit exposure. But other than that, we won’t be travelling a lot like past summers.” [US, Over-40]

Some Signs of Travel Confidence Returning

COVID-19 has also led to a stark and immediate shift in spending intentions on travel for the year ahead. Pre-2020, the share of wealthy consumers saying they planned to spend more on travel in the year ahead averaged around 45%, with only around 10% saying they planned to cut back. As the virus proliferated in the first half of 2020, the share of global respondents expecting to increase their travel spending fell to 28%, while those planning to cut back jumped to 45%.

Encouragingly, however, there are signs from the Q3 data that optimism might be slowly returning. The share of those cutting back on travel spending fell back to 40%, dropping most among Europeans to just 34%. Meanwhile, 35% of the sample expect to spend more, driven most significantly by Asian respondents (41%). This is a likely reflection of many Asian countries passing through their peak infection periods earlier in the year, and with lockdown restrictions now being more relaxed than in many European countries and American states.

There remains considerable uncertainty as different areas see spikes in COVID-19 cases and are subject to being added to quarantine lists. The prospect of having to self-isolate for two weeks remains a deterrent for many to board a plane. This uncertainty is leading many travellers to holiday domestically, or to a well-connected or short distance of their home. Longer-haul holidays are likely to continue to be hampered until quicker testing, for example at airports, or until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes viable.

“I still want to travel internationally and also go on a cruise. But I may choose a different kind of vacation before those just to be safe.” [US, Over-40]

Green Travelling to Forge Further Ahead

Sustainability is becoming more important for many wealthy consumers. Over the past three quarters, there has been a three percentage point rise in the share of respondents saying that it is ‘very important’ to them that luxury brands commit to sustainable luxury policies. In Q3 2020, 56% stated this, with a further 31% saying it is somewhat important to them. And despite the economic uncertainty following COVID-19, many consumers are still prepared to pay for sustainable luxury. In Q3 2020, 35% of our global sample said they would pay 10% extra for sustainable brands and services, with men the more likely of the two genders to show this willingness (40% vs 30%).

For travel companies, there are opportunities to tap into this green mindset with compelling and credible actions. For hotels, for example, there are many ways of doing this. Some are relatively straightforward and already widely implemented, such as reducing water usage and reusing towels. Others could involve more significant changes such as carbon offsetting, using green fuel to power the venue, or by using food and drink ingredients sourced within close proximity (or on-site).

“I will research carefully if a company acts in a sustainable way and will avoid purchasing services or goods from those that don’t.” [UK respondent, over-40]

An Acceleration of Some Travel Trends

COVID-19 has accelerated certain trends within the travel industry, some of which were already evolving pre-COVID. For example, the concept of flygskam or flight-shaming had been gaining traction prior to the necessary halting of most flights to combat the spread of the virus. In February 2020 – just prior to the global spread – Altiant asked 200 UK and US members of our affluent/HNW panel (100 in each country) about how often they fly. Just over half (51%) of the sample told us that they had not tried to reduce how often I fly and would probably not do so in the future. This figure rose to 63% among the American response (vs 39% in the UK), suggesting that wealthy US travellers were more resistant to cutting back on how often they fly.

However, 30% said that they had not tried to reduce how often they were flying, but would probably try to do so soon (34% UK vs 27% US). For these wealthy travellers, who already appeared to be considering the impact of their flights, COVID-19 could have been a further nudge towards eschewing flights whenever possible. The remaining 19% said that they were already flying less and had adapted their travelling habits, for example using video conferences (27% UK vs 10% US). For these latter two groups, there is a need for travel companies to assuage travel concerns, such as health and impact upon the environment.

The same survey from February 2020 also told us that 25% of our affluent/HNW sample in the UK and US said that they always considered the environment when choosing where to holiday. A further 53% said they sometimes made this consideration. Increasingly, environmental and sustainability factors will evolve from peripheral considerations to fundamentals. The brands which are best positioned, and most credible, in delivering on these factors are particularly well-placed to secure the patronage of wealthy travellers.

How Will This Shape Luxury Travel in the Next Quarters?

Cautious optimism remains a good position for travel operators to adopt in the current climate. There remains a great deal of uncertainty about the duration and virulence of COVID-19, something which will understandably hinder many wealthy individuals’ intentions to travel. Local and shorter-haul destinations are therefore likely to benefit most in the coming quarters. City breaks, particularly those in busy hotspots, may also be shunned as travellers instead seek out more remote locations and privacy, which have become luxuries in themselves.

Rapid testing, for example, having results within 30 minutes, or a vaccine would represent significant progress and provide wealthy travellers with the security and confidence to travel safely again. Nevertheless, the onus remains on travel operators to also play their part, ensuring the highest of standards from a health perspective, but also tapping into considerations such as sustainability and environmentalism.

The sample-set in question is taken from Quarter 3 2020 of Altiant’s GLAM tracker. The sample in Q3 comprised 450+ wealthy consumers from Europe, North America and Asia, with a median household income of $285K.

Global Heatmap: The Flight To Quality

Global Heatmap: The Flight To Quality

This week’s Global Heatmap looks at how COVID-19 has influenced HNW travellers’ budgets and what this means for the luxury travel industry.

A Little Bit About Altiant and the Global Heatmap

ILTM’s Global Heatmap is a new monthly series created by ILTM’s new resident consumer analyst, Meryam Schneider of Altiant. For those who don’t know, Altiant is a fieldwork specialist that empowers insight experts and marketers working within the luxury goods and wealth management industries to gain a deeper understanding of their audience. Each month, Meryam will be drawing insights from a unique HNW sample-set collected through Altiant’s highly-selective proprietary panel, LuxuryOpinions®.

A Change in Values

One of the most revealing aspects of the pandemic so far is how it has shaped HNW individual mindsets around how and where they place budget within the luxury travel market. For the first time in perhaps a long time, it seems that many HNW luxury travellers are questioning their consumption and in some cases moving towards new concepts and options to safeguard both their health and finances. Out of the 580+ sample-set* we looked at it was discovered that the French, American and British HNW individuals were most transformed in this regard, with a near 40% questioning their luxury goods consumption as a result of COVID-19. Interestingly, although there was still a move towards reevaluating budget with Chinese HNW individuals it was at a much lower percentage of 16%.

But how does this translate to specific behaviours within luxury travel? One positive is that once travel is back up and running it may benefit from a reapportioning of luxury budgets away from luxury goods and towards the experiences they feel they have been missing out on:

“Interestingly, having been confined to my home I have found different things to be more important. Luxury goods are not a necessity but I feel travel and experiences are necessities. I want to get back on the road/plane – safe, clean flights and hotels will be more important than carrying a luxury item.”

So where will that spend be headed? Well, it seems to position itself most prominently in three specific areas.

A Move Towards Quality Travel Seclusion

With these shifting perceptions of risk, be it financial or health, comes an increased demand for quality and, often by default, privacy. For example, HNW individuals displayed an increasing intention to place budget with more private options than had been seen prior to the pandemic. For example, 20% were looking to use more private chauffeurs in the future, as well as 17% looking to put budget with private yachts, helicopters or jets:

“More luxury travel and more private travel” Chinese respondent, 18-39 years 

“I will focus on value, quality” UK respondent, 18-39 years 

When it comes to hotels and resorts the overall findings revealed that 38% of HNW travellers plan on spending the same amount as they did pre-COVID-19 on hotels and resorts, whilst 25% will spend more than they did before the outbreak. Furthermore, when questioned on what would make travellers feel safer at a hotel or resort, 43% reported that minimum occupancy would be the crux to securing their comfort.

Again, this suggests that budgets currently are moving towards, if not outright privacy, then as secluded in nature as possible.

Fright or Flight

Flying has, of course, become a key concern for all in the travel industry during this time and it’s no surprise that in this climate HNW individuals too have, in the short term, reconsidered their modes of transport.
Caught between anxiety about health as well as quarantine regulations and financial loss, flying, be it domestic or international has taken one of the hardest hits within the sector and HNW individuals are displaying crucial changes in their intended spend within this area.

As you would expect, private forms of travel are significantly on the rise and this is coupled with a drop in purchase intentions of flying with long-haul flights suffering from this deficit the most. Starkly, 45% of HNW individuals globally reported that they will book fewer long-haul flights for leisure than they did before the crisis, and this was at 38% for short-haul leisure flights. For a third of HNW individuals, however, their budget will remain the same, 39% for short leisure flights and 32% for short business flights.

Overall, however, 36% of HNW individuals reported that they were ‘very likely’ to consider putting spend towards international travel again should restrictions allow. It should be noted that among all the many open comments analysed, the fear of being blocked abroad due to cancellations of flights was often raised together with the inconvenience attached to it. The affluent and HNW individuals will, however, rebound faster than others with a readjustment of budget and a strong appetite to book travel in the right environment. This shift will reinforce the strong need for reassuring messages from agents and brands, using technology and marketing to glamorise these protocols, much like we’ve seen the fashion industry do with couture-branded masks.

A Harder Lean Towards Green

As we touched on in our first article: ‘Green Goes Mainstream’ the tendency towards the sustainable and local has noticeably increased since the start of the crisis. What’s particularly of note however is that this is something that has grown beyond its typical millennial audience and extended to the 40+, primarily female demographic. Most notable in the data is that globally, 35% of people will put more stress on sustainable purchases and 35% on locally sourced goods.

This newfound desire for the sustainable and local is not simply one born of appreciation, but once again one of budget safeguarding:

“I will be much more conscious spending in an effort to prepare for the unknown financially. I have different priorities now” French respondent, 18-39 years

“Much more likely to stay local” UK respondent, 40+

This growing trend for local luxury that’s sustainable is a remarkable shift compared to what dominated and defined luxury only months ago. Now, it is the safety-focused sustainable travel that is truly defining the market.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Luxury Travel?

There’s no denying the next few years are going to be interesting for marketers and travel brands of all types. But with the right reassurances in place combined with a short-term redistribution of budgets to safety-focused options, the future of luxury travel is patently one of change, not expiration. This new road to quality, with a focus on the sustainable and intimate, plays well into the sensibilities of many modern luxury brands, but will clearly be more difficult for others. The heartening fact amongst all the data is that no matter where in the world our HNW audience live, the trend towards experiences over objects has been accelerated.

* The sample-set in question comprised of 580+ wealthy consumers from the UK, US, France and China, all of which had a median household income of $404K and investible assets of $911K.

Global Heatmap: Green Goes Mainstream

Global Heatmap: Green Goes Mainstream

To kick-off the launch of ILTM’s Global Heatmap, we’ll be looking at the accelerated demand for green travel in the wake of COVID-19 and what that might mean for the future.

Introducing Altiant and the Global Heatmap

ILTM’s Global Heatmap is a new monthly series created by ILTM’s new resident consumer analyst, Meryam Schneider of Altiant. For those who don’t know, Altiant is a one-of-a-kind fieldwork specialist that empowers insight experts, marketers and agencies working within the luxury goods and wealth management industries to gain a deeper understanding of their audience. Each month, Meryam will be drawing insights from a unique HNW sample-set collected through Altiant’s highly-selective proprietary panel, LuxuryOpinions®.

Green Travel: Acceleration and Adoption

The factor currently at the heart of every decision, of course, is COVID-19. This unprecedented crisis led to equally unprecedented responses including some key demographic shifts, one of which being the acceleration and adoption of green travel.

Based on our data, this new desire to ‘go green’ has extended to all corners of luxury consumerism, from fashion and luxury goods to travel, suggesting that many people will now take these factors into consideration when purchasing, either amplifying their burgeoning desires or creating ones that didn’t previously exist.

The sample-set in question comprised of 580+ wealthy consumers from the UK, US, France and China, all of which had a median household income of $404K and investible assets of $911K. From this data set, we have discovered some key points that will likely help shape the future for travel professionals looking to stay ahead of the curve when the industry is back in full swing.

Undoubtedly, one of the most notable takeaways is that in the UK, France and the US, the increase for green living since the onset of COVID-19 has dramatically increased. This is manifesting as a big shift in mindset, with luxury consumers questioning their consumption of luxury goods and stating strong intentions to consume green and local in the future. As of the time of this publishing, 38% of French and US luxury consumers have actively questioned their consumer behaviour and this is only slightly lower, at 37%, for people in the UK.

What’s especially interesting, however, is not only the geographic trends but the age demographic changes that have also developed.

Pre-COVID-19, green living and sustainability were primarily millennial (18-40 years) concerns, with older generations placing far less emphasis on them. Today, by far the biggest shift in mindset has been in the 40+ demographic, suggesting the favoured brands of GenX-ers and Baby Boomers may need to think very carefully about how they react.

It is within China, however, that there’s the biggest deviation here. The data from China suggests that only 25% of people are concerned with local produce and experiences, though an astonishing 57% are noted to be interested in sustainably produced luxury products. This illustrates that while China may be more interested in going green, they are not necessarily as interested in doing so from their own shores.

What Might This Mean for the Luxury Travel Industry?

All this translates into a far stronger interest in sustainable luxury and, where possible, luxury products produced locally. The latter applying less to the Chinese wealthy, who show a very strong desire to buy green but not necessarily in China.

Although sustainable consumption is much stronger within the Millennial segment, women and the 40+ age group were more likely to question their consumption of luxury goods, pointing towards a future shift in the messages that resonate with some Baby Boomers and Gen-X.

And of course, with this new world awareness brings the reaffirmed need for travel experts, able to advise people who are now much more concerned with sustainable options and quality experiences. All this provides the travel community with a clear direction on what post-COVID-19 clients will be looking for when they eventually return to travelling and holds great promise for the industry’s future.

Watch this space for the next Global Heatmap.