Why personal fulfilment is the new ultimate luxury
John Spence, founder and chairman of the Karma Group, will discuss the trend towards personal fulfilment, experiential holidays and luxury – and how best to nurture and appease these wishes and demands, in a special session at this year’s RDO conference.
In today’s changing world, ever greater numbers of people are choosing to travel to increasingly far flung destinations for their vacations, either once or even multiple times per year. In addition to this there are ever more options of styles of accomodation, places to explore and things to do while on holiday. Unique, personalised experiences and vacations are almost becoming expected as the norm, while fewer and fewer travellers are content to merely flop on the beach or by the pool for a typical holiday.
Travellers from more traditionally wealthy, so-called “developed” areas of the world such as North American or European countries are increasingly opting to visit more far-flung parts of the world. As well as this though, people from many other regions of the world such as the rapidly developing countries across Asia, South America and Africa are now choosing to travel more, in many instances to countries in Europe and North America.
This is all connected to a growing trend worldwide in which individuals, especially younger generations are now equating personal fulfilment and happiness with travel and experiences, rather than acquiring more and more material things. This has been backed up by studies which suggest that travel is one of the most important things that you can spend money on to significantly increase your happiness.
In this RDO conference session: ‘Personal fulfilment is the new ultimate luxury’, Spence will discuss how he envisions this trend being nurtured and developed within the Karma Group. While John does see certain challenges ahead within the Travel & Tourism industry as a whole, the biggest of which is the disruptive force of Airbnb, overall he is very optimistic and feels there is massive room for growth.
In fact, while he believes Airbnb is a huge threat to the traditional “hotel model”, especially among younger travellers such as those at university who are booking accommodation through Airbnb in greater and greater numbers, he doesn’t see this as a huge problem for Karma Group.
One reason for this is that among the students he was teaching at Yale University – the vast majority of which booked their holidays through Airbnb – “the majority said they had experienced issues and were concerned that there was no recourse on those problems because they had booked through the app”.
Even more importantly Spence stated “it doesn’t really affect our business as we’re more of a kind of private members club than a standard hotel model”. Both of these factors bode well for Karma Group and the timeshare industry, and suggest that while Airbnb will certainly continue to massively disrupt the traditional “hotel model”, the timeshare industry and luxury brands such as Karma can significantly differentiate themselves by offering added extras and luxurious features to clients, stemming from being a member of a club rather than simply a one time guest.
In the second part of his session, Spence will give a brief fictional case study in which he presents the scenario of Karma buying a somewhat “tired legacy resort” and how he would offer a new beneficial value proposition by reinvigorating it, without necessarily making a large financial investment – in often not a viable option in such scenarios.
This will give delegates a clear idea of how older resorts can be updated for clients from North America and Europe and from the new growth opportunity areas such as Asian countries, who are now opting to travel further afield with luxurious accommodation in mind, as opposed to the more basic accomodation offered by Airbnb.
Spence has the unique talent to break down as yet unseen barriers, whether predicting and purchasing undiscovered areas of land that later become global hot spots (ranging from Goa to Uluwatu Bali to Gili Meno), to creating a new five-star experience and brand philosophy which in turn has transformed what staying in a five-star resort means.
Karma clients flock to experience what has now famously become referred to as the “Five-Star Hippy” lifestyle, while other brands aspire to achieve something similar. John is a passionate sports fan, keen patron of the arts and supporter of numerous charities that he has implemented strongly into the Karma ethos and experience.
RDO9, with the theme ‘ACT: Action Changes Things’ takes place on 12-13 September at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel and Spa, a four star hotel in Chelsea, London. For more details, visit www.rdoconference.org
To find out more about Karma Group, visit www.karmagroup.com