The Road Best Travelled

The ‘Package holiday’ market has been a stable category across the world for the past 50 years. Promising all-inclusive meals and drinks at a resort in the sun, at a price that consumers couldn’t possibly dream of beating themselves, was the winning formula. Then came along Google, Tripadvisor, Airbnb, Skyscanner and Instagram. These tech giants gave people access to information they had never seen before, leaving the package holiday no longer fitting the newly informed traveler aspirations.

However, this has now changed, with various new players coming into the market and changing the game. They are offering more personalised and tailored packages that consumers value, and are even forcing the traditional players to change their ways.

From fitness retreats for the middle-aged man, to divorce retreats like Amanpuri Awareness, ‘pain-moons’ like Kamalaya Embracing Change Programme, and guided tours of ‘Africa’s forgotten kingdom’ – Eritrea, the new package holiday enables the consumer to access a host of unique holiday itineraries and experiences that they would never have been able to create on their own.

One area in which this is most visible is wellness travel. The wellness trend has been well-documented, with the industry now worth $4.2 trillion. This trend is also having a profound effect on the travel industry, as recent figures reveal that wellness travel is experiencing 6.5% annual growth (more than double that of overall tourism). Wellness travel has much more to offer than the Balinese yoga retreats of Eat Pray Love, as companies offer all-inclusive holidays that specialise in almost every different aspect of wellness – from fertility retreats like Svargo Loka Connect, to nature immersions in the Himalayas, and fitness breaks for the New Middle-Aged Man.

Gen X males are more concerned about health and wellness than ever, and the wellness retreat concept that once predominantly targeted women, is now broadening its appeal to men as well. The Palacio Estoril Hotel in Portugal, for example, offers an Anti-ageing Gentleman package. This 7-night package offers all meals and accommodation, and also a personalised “anti-ageing” programme, targeting physical and mental signs of age. A thorough, luxury package, for a sometimes-overlooked consumer demographic.

Another angle the package can take, is through providing safe, well-researched holidays in off-the-beaten-track holiday destinations. In an age where consumers are hunting for authentic, experiential travel, and “trekking in Namibia” is more attractive (and impressive) than 5-star sun-bathing, companies like Steppes Travel can open up countries like Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, DRC, Iran and Romania, through their “luxury tailor made” offerings. Their 12-day tour of Eritreais accompanied by an in-country expert, providing a value-add that would have been impractical and unaffordable for a consumer to organise on their own.

Finally, TUI’s October 2018 “Mum” advert cleverly shows the brand promising to “cross the Ts, dot the Is and put U in the middle”. The advert shows how travelers can increase their emotional connection to each other (and also to the brand, who is responsible for the result), while enjoying a fully organised holiday, as they are secure in the knowledge that everything has been organised with them in mind. With TUI rapidly expanding its luxury package collection, Sensatori, it seems that there is strong emotional equity in the brand promise of ‘taking care of things for you’.

What does this mean for our brands?

The package holiday market has had a makeover in the last decade, and new life has been injected into the category. While new tech platforms meant the traditional package holiday became outdated, increased information has born an opportunity for new players to come in with fresh propositions and old players to reinvent themselves.

While hunting for the perfect AirBnB and crafting bespoke itineraries is many consumers’ ultimate goal, in reality, this is often unachievable. This choice paralysis has led to a burgeoning appetite for pre-made, expert-curated packages. This appetite is only reinforced by consumers’ (especially experiential-focused millennials’) quest for increasingly bold and adventurous holidays, that are time-consuming to organise. As the range of packages on offer continues to expand in variety, quality and price-point, it seems the package is now enriching the travel landscape like never before.


Harriet Monkley

Associate Consultant