The so-called ‘experience economy’ is driving growth in travel sales as people increasingly value what they do over what they own, according to tour operator Kuoni.
The firm claimed consumers are investing in travel “as never before” to mark the big milestones in their lives like marriages, landmark birthdays and anniversaries.
The growing trend is set out in premium travel specialist Kuoni’s annual Worldwide Trends Report which was launched at a special event in London on Monday night.
It said it has seen increased demand for epic adventures, worldwide tours and cruises over the past year.
Around half of Kuoni’s bookings are now for special occasion trips, with honeymoons topping the list, followed by landmark birthdays, weddings and vow renewals, bucket list trips and family gatherings.
Engagement travel also makes its list of special occasions for the first time. Kuoni said Princess Eugenie getting engaged in Nicaragua highlights a trend for couples seeking to make their marriage proposal as memorable as the big day itself.
The Indian Ocean archipelago which make up the Maldives tops the list of destinations for special trips where average spend is now £6,000 per couple.
Worldwide tours to Japan, Vietnam and Costa Rica are also on the rise, with growing numbers of people opting for longer trips 20 nights or more. Demand for premium worldwide cruise trips, has also risen by 45%.
Derek Jones, managing director of Kuoni, said: “From dinner on a private island in the Maldives to dining by a candlelit waterfall in Thailand, growing numbers are willing to invest in experiences at all ends of the age spectrum which creates conversation to last a lifetime.”
“The memories made, the relationships nurtured and occasions celebrated are becoming central to shaping the people we are,” said
Kuoni added: “Equity release from homes and a relaxation in pension regulations in recent years is one of the reasons for the growth of premium travel as people seek to tick places off their wish list.
“Older, wealthier consumers, who are fit and healthy, are investing in seeing the world as they continue to live life to the full.”
Kuoni’s Top 10 special occasions:
2. Birthday (Landmark 30/40/50/60/70)
3. Wedding / Vow renewal
4. Empty Nesters’ bucket list trip
5. Family gatherings
6. Engagement trips to propose
7. Last holiday before baby
9. Rekindled romance/second honeymoon
10. Newly single (either divorced, separated or widowed)
Kuoni’s Top 25 destinations for 2018:
4. Sri Lanka
7. Indonesia (Bali)
12. South Africa
13. St Lucia