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TD Conversations: Peter J. Bates in conversation with Chandler Mount, CEO, Affluent Consumer Research

The findings from his recent survey of high-end consumers reveal a promising future for the travel sector.

Chandler Mount loves data. He has channelled his passion for parsing and connecting the dots into a thriving business. The expert on qualitative market research, who specialises in studying the spending habits of affluent Americans, has recently conducted an eye-opening survey that will help businesses in the travel industry prepare for the road ahead.

In July 2021, he interviewed 295 American luxury travellers with a minimum household income of 250K USD and on an average a little over 700K USD a year. The survey was targeted to households in the top 2400 zip codes in the US based on income and home value. The preferences of this well-heeled group revealed trends that will soon trickle down to middle-income group travellers as well, so they are most likely indicative of how the sector will be shaped in the coming months. For example, 55 per cent said their travel budget for upcoming trips was the same as before the pandemic, 29 per cent said it was more than before, while only 16 per cent said it was lower.

He has insights into the top destinations that are in demand by this segment. Florida tops the charts in the US, while internationally, it is France that holds a certain je ne sais quoi, with 23 per cent making it their first choice. Italy, UK and Germany come next. Nine per cent of those surveyed have a yen for Japan, while India, China, and Korea claim just two per cent each of the American pie.

Paris, travel, Europe, Europe travel, Eiffel tower
France is currently the first choice for the ‘Ritzy Regular Traveller’. Image: Shutterstock/Maria Onoper.

The survey co-built by Mount’s Affluent Consumer Research scouted new travel needs and trends as well. For example, 77 per cent of high-end regular travellers (or the ‘Ritzy Regulars’ as Mount has dubbed them) want travel insurance against pandemic-related losses. Private jets, yachts and villas have extra appeal, as does slow, mindful travel where sustainability is the main focus. Reliance on travel advisors is growing as people need reassurance and confidence about their choices.

Mount advises hoteliers and service providers to be prepared for a resurgence in the tourism sector and not to treat the resurfacing interest as ‘revenge travel’ but to promote it as more responsible and rejuvenating travel.

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