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Values don’t change

Illustration of woman giving a man a tattoo

There were some notable results that came from two recent surveys – Skift’s annual U.S. Affluent Traveler Trends, and Globalwebindex’s Affluent Consumer Audience Report. The answers reflect a continuing trend with affluent travellers. It’s less about service or luxury. They are seeking altruism and self-actualization through travel.

The survey results also support our thinking on affluent travellers, and their values. It’s better aligning to values over preferences. Values don’t change. And the preferences flow from the values. The preferences, like trends, will change over time. But it’s always underpinned by the values.

I’ve grouped the survey results below into three categories for simplicity:

Self Improvement & Actualization

  • Affluent travellers would rather travel to a new destination or experience than one they’ve been to before.
  • They prioritize new destinations and experiences when making travel decisions.
  • Has participated in adventure travel.
  • They like to challenge and push themselves to be the best they can be.
  • Wants to pursue a life of challenge, novelty, and change.
  • They want to improve their physical and emotional well being
  • They value services that enable them to learn new things.

Affluent travellers want to be challenged. They want to learn and experiences new things. They want to improve themselves. Luxury is not enough. People who are at the top of the needs hierarchy want more from their travel experience.

Environmental Ethics & Altruism

  • Affluent travellers (especially younger ones) choose companies that prioritize environmentally sustainable business practices.
  • They care more about environmental and ethical travel concerns if they have kids.
  • They are willing to pay higher fares/rates for companies that are environmentally responsible.
  • It’s important for them to consider human rights abuses and environmental records when choosing a destination or travel experience.

Sustainability is an important value for affluent travellers. It reflects the needs of affluent travellers evolving. But it’s also because they’re on the highest rung of the needs hierarchy. Always consider sustainability when you make decisions. You’ll attract more of this audience, improve HR, and increase brand equity. Plus you also get the halo effect.

Family & Privacy

  • Affluent travellers often choose vacation destinations based on what their family thinks.
  • They are privacy-conscious.

These values go hand in hand. The majority (about 2/3) of affluent travellers have families, and travel with them. So your travel product needs to accommodate the needs of their family.

Privacy is also important for high net worth travellers. Service should be provided discreetly, before and during stays. But this extends to other considerations, like physical spaces or activities.


Considering the values of this audience is important for brands from a high level. But affluent consumers also have habits that differ from non-affluent ones. Consider them when you are thinking about things from a tactical level.

Consider that:

  • They are early tech adopters and multi-devices users.
  • They use a wide range of devices, and often switch screens.
  • Social media is a critical touchpoint – this audience spends 2.5 hours a day on it as a brand research channel, surpassing review sites in some cases.
  • Social status – they consider themselves to be premium buyers, and expect special treatment from brands. Personalization and high-end service are critical.

Tactics, like preferences, will change over time. But brands that align to values will always have a solid foundation to guide their tactics.