2013′s Top Luxury Travel Trends And Destinations

myanmar templeWant to know where to go and what to do in 2013? Leading luxury travel network Virtuoso has released their 2013 Luxe Report, revealing the top travel trends and destinations for 2013, as chosen by their travel advisers.

We’re seeing a number of new destinations emerge as must-visits, including Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile, lesser-developed destinations that give a more immersive experience than a traditional luxury vacation. Cuba and Vietnam are also high on the list of emerging areas.

Cruising, both ocean and river, as well as multi-generational travel remain strong trends as well.

In terms of destinations, Italy remains a top international spot, as well as South Africa, France, Australia and Argentina.

Domestically, Napa Valley /Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska. Families will visit Italy, Costa Rica, England and Mexico, the study finds, while couples will consider Italy, French Polynesia, France, Bali and Fiji.

As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.

The 2013 Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels.

Travel advisors still continue to be the lead influencer in determining their clients’ travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.

What do you think? Will you be visiting any of these destinations in 2013?

[Image Credit: eGuide Travel]

Restaurant Offers Diners Discount For Conversing

texting It’s not uncommon to be at a restaurant where patrons are texting on their phones, tweeting on their iPads and Skyping on their laptops. Well, one Los Angeles restaurant has had enough of people going out together, only to not even converse with each other. In fact, Eva Restaurant Los Angeles is offering a 5 percent discount to diners who leave their cellphones with staff while seated.

On Tuesday, owner Mark Gold told KPCC Radio he hopes the policy will create an environment where diners can interact without the interference of technology. Gold also added the initiative was not implemented to satisfy patrons who get annoyed by the noise and light of smartphones.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the discount is offered to guests when they are seated by staff. So far, nearly half have taken advantage of the offer, many even expressing gratitude at the opportunity to disconnect from their cellphones.

While technology can be helpful for travelers, we’re hoping establishments continue to encourage socializing in real life and not just online.

What’s your opinion on restaurants encouraging diners to put away their cellphones?

[Image via Dan Zen]

Study Reveals What Travelers Want Most When Flying

airplane There’s been a lot of talk lately about customer satisfaction and future plans for air travel. To help get to the bottom of what fliers really want, Skyscanner surveyed airline passengers and asked them.

The findings showed:

  • 20% of travelers want capsule-style bunks on flights
  • 18% would like to see soundproof sections for children
  • 8% hope airplanes will soon have kick-proof seats
  • 1 in 20 people surveyed said they wanted transparent floors and ceilings for better views
  • 4% of fliers want a singles section, where they could potentially connect and flirt with a future partner

Some other suggestions travelers have for flights are featuring an on-board cocktail bar, in-flight cinema, massage chairs and free use of iPads, although certain airlines already offer iPads, showers and capsules in business and first class.

What do you hope is in store for the future of air travel?

[photo via Kuster & Wildhaber Photography]

Summer Travel Trends: Experiential Travel, Weekend Getaways And Digital Tools

beach A lot has changed in the way people take summer vacations from last year. According to the American Express Spending & Savings Tracker, consumer behavior is shifting towards experiential travel, with 42 percent looking to learn about local culture. Furthermore, 22 percent of travelers are looking for more “soft adventures,” like cooking classes, spa retreats and trekking. Likewise, 36 percent wish to incorporate learning activities into their travels, like museum visits, historical sites and cultural monuments.

Using digital tools both before and during travel is also a growing summer travel trend. Fifty-six percent are doing online research before booking their trips. Additionally, 39 percent of travelers are using apps to learn more about their destination, find deals, make trip bookings and get recommendations. Travelers are also staying connected to work by checking their emails while away.

This summer, there will also be more travelers taking weekend getaways – 43 percent up from 36 percent. In fact, the average number of weekend getaways for the summer is three per month.

For more facts and figures on summer travel, click here.

Airline Trends: Fliers To Be Charged Extra For Window Seats

airplane While you can usually purchase your flight ticket and then reserve any seat you’d like in your section, airlines are beginning to charge extra for window seats. Certain airlines, like Delta, American Airlines, US Airways, Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant, have already implemented the “preferred seating” fees, charging $29 each way on domestic flights in the U.S. and $59 on international flights in the front section of the plane.

Aside for having to spend extra money, doing this also creates a problem for passengers who want to sit with their family and friends. By setting aside these more desirable seats, the airlines are making it difficult for people traveling together to always be seated near one another. Not surprisingly, these fees are part of a bigger plan to make up for rising fuel charges by adding fees to things that passengers are used to having included, like pillows, blankets, movies and beverages.

Of course, this isn’t how the airlines are spinning it. Katie Hulme, a spokesperson for Delta, explained to CNN, “Offering preferred seats for sale to all Delta passengers means that we are offering different seat selection options to enable more passengers to travel in their seat of choice.”

What do you think of preferred seating charges?

[photo via VirtualErn]