Luxury Travel and Shopping in the Post-COVID-19 World

Limitations in International travel brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic are clearly affecting the bottom line of not only travel & hospitality brands, but of the luxury sector overall. Sectors or geographies heavily reliant on travellers, like duty free retailers for example, are suffering the most. While it may take some time before the situation normalizes, our data from across 8 key Asian markets and the U.S. shows that there are reasons to be optimistic in the mid to long term.

As travel restrictions start to loosen up with the establishment of travel bubbles between countries and affluent and HNW individuals around the world start making new, tentative travel plans, we see that the past year repressed travel needs will fuel a resurgence of travel toward those destinations which are able to reassure guests they are safe to visit.

What follow are some of the most interesting insights we picked up from our Affluent Traveller TrendLens™ 2020/21 Report, studying Affluent Asian and American consumers behaviour and needs post-pandemic:

  • Women will drive the luxury rebound in Asia: in China, affluent women see their future as bright as men, with 54% of both men and women expecting their income to increase. This is good news for many luxury travel brands, given how important the female segment is in driving growth, especially in the wellness and health category. Women in the US tend to be less optimistic: they believe that the Covid-19 crisis will have an impact on their income, with only 29% believing that their income will increase, vs 42% of US men.
  • Consumers have different travel plans: While affluent consumers in larger Asian countries like China, Indonesia & India are optimistic about restarting leisure travel, particularly domestic travel, within the next 12 months, affluent consumers in US are not: a majority of them expect to considerably decrease their travel overseas (58%) and domestically (56%) in the next 12 months. 
  • Key Reasons for taking the next leisure trip: Given that 2020 has been such a stressful year, spent mostly indoors, it is not surprising that ‘to relax & unwind’ and ‘to enjoy nature’ are the main reasons for affluent Asian consumers to take their next leisure trip. In addition ‘to relax & unwind’, the US affluent plan to travel to ‘visit a loved one’. American male travellers are more likely than women to take leisure trips ‘to improve their health’.
  • Key Reasons not to do any international leisure travel: Understandably, ‘fear of getting infected with Covid-19’ emerged as the top reason not to do any international leisure travel in the next 12 months, followed by imposed ‘Covid-19 restrictions’ and to try to ‘limit the spread of the virus’, in both Asia and US. 
  • The top 5 destinations to travel to: In general, affluent Asians prefer to stay closer to home when they will travel again: Japan & Australia dominate the top 5 destinations to travel to in the next 12 months, in 6 different Asian markets each, followed by South Korea & Thailand. U.S. and Europe rank high on the Korean and Japanese travellers list. With 7 out of every 10 Americans having some domestic travel plans, USA is the top leisure travel choice for affluent Americans, followed by key European countries – Italy, UK and France.
  • Ready for Duty Free shopping: With international travel slowly reopening, affluent consumers in both Asia and US do look forward to shopping at Duty Free worldwide again. Most common product categories we expect Americans travelers to buy at duty-free shops include perfumes, jewelry & premium alcohol. Perfumes, skincare and fashion, both clothing and handbags, top the Asian shopping list.
  • Top hotel touchpoints across Asia: While social media (NET), travel websites/apps, speaking with friends and family dominate the top hotel touchpoints across Asia, YouTube & Instagram emerged as dominant social media touchpoints for hotels, followed by Facebook & twitter (outside of China).
The Affluent Traveler TrendLens™ 2020/21 Report is a complete insights and research program designed for the travel industry, helping marketing and insights teams and C-level executives understand affluent and HNW consumers’ post Covid-19 travel trends, in key global markets. Completed after interviewing over 5,000 affluent and HNW individuals in Asia and US, the report offers travel, tourism and hospitality brands an invaluable guide to affluent and HNWIs post Covid-19 travel needs.

How Can Agility Help?
Agility has been working with leading luxury & premium brands to understand & win share of wallet from affluent consumers for over a decade. With 11+ Industry practice area, 38+ markets, 30+ years combined experience, core experience on Asia Pacific and 1k+ successful client engagements, we help brands across a broad set of challenges & opportunities that lie ahead in this post-Covid world.

For more information on subscription options, or to schedule a call with a consultant in your market to share more about our work & case studies, contact us at jason@agility-research.com.


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  • Last month we had a successful webinar session on the 2021 Luxury Consumer Outlook with senior executives from more than 70 luxury brands joining online from across Asia and Europe! Our managing director Amrita Banta discussed what lies ahead for the luxury industry in 2021 and how to recapture Asian and U.S. affluent and HNWIs spend, sharing invaluable insights based on work done across over 100 premium projects globally in 2020 and data gathered from interviews with over 4,000 affluent and HNW consumers across key Asian markets and the U.S.
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