Moving On Up: Evolving Luxury Travel

Trends / Realness
Fly View Productions
Samuel Malave Jr
Mar 28, 2024
Luxury has always been an aspiration: Much of American popular culture has thrived on fantasizing what a lavish lifestyle could feel like. From iconic television shows1 to popular contemporary music,2 luxury is often fueled by its allusions to success. That is also the case for the travel industry, where aspirational locations and exclusivity are typical markers of a well‑taken trip. VisualGPS research reveals that this is reflected in visuals that brands choose: 50% of luxury videos take place at hotels and 43% of popular luxury travel visuals do not feature people at all. However, our research has identified a shift among travelers, one that urges brands to alter their depiction of luxury and pay attention to the specific aspects of upscale travel that matter to travelers now.

Toning it down
The past few years have been a whirlwind, politically, socially, and even economically as folks dealt (and continue to deal) with a global pandemic. This has noticeably shifted people’s relationship to luxurious trips as 1 in 3 Americans state affordability is more important to them now than before the pandemic. Additionally, 49% of high‑income Americans prefer travel visuals that are casual and affordable over those that denote luxury and glamour. Ultimately, Americans don’t want to break the bank when they travel, nor do they want brands to pressure them to do so in the images they put out into the world. This shifting desire aligns with the rising trend of quiet luxury,3 one that feels indulgent without being overt with its luxuriousness.

Getting specific
Since brands are eager to visualize luxury (there’s been a 30% increase in the use of luxury visuals since 2019), it’s important they keep this shift to a more subtle luxury in mind when choosing visuals. To offset the over‑reliance on exclusivity and isolation, lean into the consumer desire for affordability and casualness by choosing visuals set in places that feel accessible and part of everyday life (i.e., restaurants or walking around a city). To borrow from recent VisualGPS research specifically about travel video, consider highlighting moments that feel immersive (e.g., a selfie perspective). As luxury evolves, so does how consumers relate to it; what matters most is that people feel like the casual moments they indulge in are seen and centered.
1. YouTube
2. Forbes
3. InStyle

The Depiction of Men in the Americas