In the year 2010, 13 million Indians traveled abroad, which is less than 1% of the country’s population. With rapid economic growth, higher disposable incomes the number will increase by a staggering six fold in the next two decades. With a plethora of information available online more and more Indians and looking for bespoke and “luxurious” travel experiences. In another candid with Mr. Romil Ratra, director of Palladium Hotel, Mumbai, we discuss on the trends, expectations, future and more of the affluent Indian traveler.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
What is luxury travel to an Indian?
Luxury travel today is less and less about the thread count of sheets, the high-end fittings and branded designer amenities and more about the holistic experience. Modern luxury as I have always maintained is about time, space and attention. Time as an example, could mean your proximity to where you need to or want to be, it could be the time taken to process a request, or the simple fact that the hotel or any service provider respects your time. The Indian traveller, like all other global travellers too, is evolving and becoming more aspirational and luxury is not about the just the opulence anymore but is about the bespoke experience based on one’s own personal preferences. Personal preferences are created out of a wealth of opportunities on the internet, travel shows and publications and, of course, a growing sense of responsible travel that brings out the desire in all of us all to learn and discover and choose to live in cave hotels in Cappadoccia or go see the northern lights in Iceland. These are the experiences that allow us something to really talk about when we get home.
At the Palladium Hotel for example, we are able to create the feeling of being far away from the bustling city below with well-thought through spaces and customized experiences we have on offer starting from our indulgent Spa treatments, an afternoon luxuriating by the beautifully landscaped Infinity Pool, Cocktails and Dinner in the Sky at our award-winning F & B Penthouse on Level 37 & 38 or a curated personal shopping experience at the Palladium Mall’s premium luxury brand stores, Burberry, Gucci, Bottega, Zegna, Canali, Armani, Jimmy Choo amongst others.
How hotels perceive an Indian luxury traveler?
The Indian luxury traveller is now perceived as a serious traveller. One who will not allow himself to be treated in anyway different from anyone else. Hotels are realizing that the Indian consumer is well heeled, well informed and has the capacity to spend money. They can’t be taken lightly or they will take their business elsewhere.
The demographics of an Indian luxury traveler.
The demographics of the Indian luxury traveller have changed considerably over the last 5-7 years. With the economic environment being what it is, today’s luxury travellers are far more discerning than they used to be – they’re not attracted to something just because it’s high-priced anymore; they are now a lot more value-driven. First the consumer segment is more diverse – the luxury travellers are no longer largely comprised of people with old / family wealth – one can see the shift to working class people who have moved up in life. These are working professionals and entrepreneurs who have earned their wealth and not only those who inherited it. Todays luxury traveller is younger, more adventurous, and willing to go off the beaten path. They take more short vacations as against the annual vacation and multigenerational travel is getting popular as people feel the need to connect with their families in an otherwise rather impersonal digital world. Even at the Palladium Hotel, we have observed that Indian travelers from other cities are a lot more aware and even the business travelers spare time to indulge in good F&B experiences – making Palladium Hotel the perfect destination for both business and recreational travelers.
Most noticeable changes in the Indian traveler over the last decade.
The last 10 years have seen major changes in the patterns of an Indian traveler. The Indian luxury traveller is getting younger and a lot more aspirational. He / She is no longer constrained by convention. The Indian traveler wishes to experience exclusivity, one he/she can boast to feel pioneering, even exploratory about. He / She desires the ‘insider’ experience, the one that allows him / her to imbibe local cultures and go off the beaten path. The Indian traveler doesn’t want to be a part of a “group” and package tour, but more bespoke experiences.
Thank you for the time, Mr. Ratra. It’s been quite the pleasure.