Virtuoso Shares Data on Top Destinations

Annual lists are taken from actual luxury travel transactions By: Kenneth Shapiro
Bookings to Iceland have increased 56 percent year over year. // © 2016 iStock
Bookings to Iceland have increased 56 percent year over year. // © 2016 iStock

The Details

Despite security concerns and drawn by a strong dollar, luxury travelers are looking to visit European favorites this fall, according to a survey of Virtuoso advisors. In addition, Virtuoso has released its annual Hot 10 list of emerging travel destinations.

Why It Matters:
Virtuoso travel data is acknowledged as a reliable trend predictor in the industry since it is culled from more than $35 billion in actual transactions. This year, the most popular fall and holiday travel destinations based on future bookings, in order, are: Italy, France, the U.K., South Africa, Spain, Mexico, China, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Virtuoso’s Hot 10 list of countries that have seen the largest percentage growth in year-over-year bookings include: Kenya (+59%), Iceland (+56%), St. Martin (+39%), China (+35%), Ecuador (+34%), Japan (+32%), South Africa (+28%), Tanzania (+27%), Croatia (+25%) and Jamaica (+23%).

Fast Facts:
- Data is drawn from Virtuoso’s U.S. and Canadian-based travel agency members and reflects future travel for September through December 2016. The top destinations list and Hot 10 list represent international travel only, so neither the U.S. nor Canada is mentioned.

- Travelers are enjoying lower average daily rates (ADRs) at Virtuoso partner hotels in major European cities as summer ends. In particular, Paris is down 2 percent ($1,087), Rome is 6 percent lower ($949), London is down 7 percent ($704) and Barcelona comes in 15 percent lower than summer rates ($596). London and Barcelona in particular represent great value to travelers this fall and holiday season, as they are respectively 21 and 43 percent below the average ADR for Virtuoso partner properties in Europe, which is $853.

- With sales up 28 percent year over year, Africa is the only continent to post such an increase. Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, all strong safari destinations, should benefit from a projected 17 percent increase. According to Virtuoso’s travel advisors, safaris are particularly appealing for multigenerational family trips.

- China has been trending upward with luxury travelers over the past few years. While travel there is steady year round, the last quarter of the year is the most popular time for visitors, aided by ADRs that are 5 percent below average.

- Select Caribbean and South American destinations continue to see growth, with St. Martin, Ecuador and Jamaica experiencing double-digit increases over last year.

What They Are Saying:

“At Virtuoso, we have a data warehouse of more than $35 billion in transactions,” said Terrie Hansen, senior vice president of marketing for Virtuoso. “Our Top 10 and Hot 10 lists come from that transactional data: the actual bookings made by our member agencies. It’s important for advisors to know which destinations are up and which are down. Even if it doesn’t mirror what they’re seeing in their own agencies at the moment, it may foretell what they can expect in the future. And with the Hot 10 in particular, which is a look at destinations seeing the greatest year-over-year growth, it may provide some inspiration as their clients seek out new and interesting destinations.”