Skift Take

The rise in luxury travel signifies more than just deep pockets — it's a shift towards meaningful experiences. Millennials and Gen Zers are setting the pace, choosing travel as a form of self-expression. Jumeirah is tapping into this trend to accelerate its global reach, shifting the definition of luxury from mere opulence to personalized, purpose-driven experiences.

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Despite the rising cost of travel and recession worries, the luxury travel market is experiencing unprecedented growth. Valued at $1.20 trillion in 2021, it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6 percent from 2022 to 2030. This demand isn’t just about more people being able to afford luxury — it’s about more people choosing travel as a form of self-expression and personal growth.

Millennials and Gen Zers are at the forefront of this change, putting experiences over possessions as the new gold standard. These younger generations — set to drive 80 percent of luxury spending by 2030 — are placing technology, transparency, and purpose at the forefront of their choices. According to the American Express Global Travel Trends 2023 Report, 78 percent of millennials and Gen Zers allocate a significant portion of their budget to leisure and travel, while 84 percent would prefer to invest in a dream vacation rather than purchase a luxury item.

According to Katerina Giannouka, CEO of Jumeirah Group, these preferences reflect deeper generational values: “For millennials and Gen Zers, the allure of travel goes beyond the destination itself — it’s about the experience. Unlike baby boomers, who saw travel as a luxury and gravitated towards traditional destinations like Paris and New York, younger generations seek personal growth and fulfillment through travel. They’re also traveling more frequently and are open to more exploratory destinations like Southeast Asia and Indonesia,” she said.

Redefining Luxury in a Global Marketplace

As the travel market grows, the evolving relationship between hospitality brands and their guests demands a new playbook. For Jumeirah, this comes in the form of Mission 2030, a recently announced strategic roadmap to grow the brand from a regional success story to a globally recognized name.

At its core, Mission 2030 focuses on two main components: optimizing Jumeirah’s current business and executing strategic growth. To lay the groundwork for these ambitions, the company is investing heavily in understanding its customers. For example, Jumeirah has partnered with a New York-based agency to engage with their guests through focus groups and one-on-one interviews.

“As we redefine the brand, we’re listening closely to our guests, and the consistent feedback we’re getting is that we excel in delivering generosity. We’ve offered a unique space since we first wowed the world with what was described by journalists as ‘seven-star luxury’ at the Burj over two decades ago. Our mission now is to once again be a trailblazer as we expand in the global market,” Giannouka said.

So how does Jumeirah plan to bring this vision to life? In terms of optimizing its current business, it’s not just a question of ramping up operational efficiencies, but about embracing agile business models that pivot with market trends. Part of this strategy involves investing in technology for a more responsive and personalized guest experience.

“We believe there’s unexplored potential in using technology to offer hyper-personalized experiences. That’s why we’re investing heavily to develop systems designed to understand and meet our guests’ needs, even before they articulate them. We want to connect our guests with experiences that touch them on a deeply personal level, helping them achieve ambitions, discover new interests, or find a renewed sense of purpose. This level of customization is still untapped in the hospitality sector, and we’re committed to pioneering in that space,” Giannouka said.

The second component is even more ambitious: growth. “We want to continue to grow our portfolio in traditional luxury destinations that are popular among boomers, while also expanding into new feeder markets. We’re committed to growing in the U.S., which remains a strong feeder market in the luxury travel sector, as well as in Asia,” Giannouka said.

But the brand doesn’t aim to hastily fill unoccupied real estate in high-demand tourist spots. The strategy includes a detailed selection process for new markets, a focus on building collaborative partnerships, a plan to localize its services to align with the cultural and locational nuances of different markets, and diversification into newer categories within the luxury travel space, such as wellness and branded residences.

Expanding Into Wellness and Branded Residence

Modern travelers are increasingly interested in holistic well-being and experiences that nourish the mind, body, and spirit. From offering personalized health coaching to constructing state-of-the-art wellness facilities, hotels are learning that a 360-degree approach to well-being can set them apart in a crowded marketplace.

However, longstanding legacy brands tend to dominate the wellness industry, making it challenging to break through the noise. Yet Jumeirah is carving out a unique niche for itself. The company recognizes that well-being is a universal concern and is investing in wellness programs that go beyond traditional gym and spa services to enrich every aspect of the guest experience.

“We’re designing spaces that meet real needs for real travelers. Just like how the Burj introduced a residential touch to hotel rooms, we want to focus on what makes people truly comfortable during their stay. It’s about more than just luxe decor — it’s about well-being from the get-go, from air quality to sleep comfort to nutritious choices,” Giannouka said.

The brand is focusing on three central tenets for its new wellness strategy: lifelong learning, longevity, and inclusivity. One aspect of this includes providing continuity of wellness services across the brand’s portfolio. For example, if a guest has worked with a personal trainer or a wellness therapist at a Jumeirah property in London, the individual’s wellness history will be transferred to another hotel within the chain anywhere in the world, allowing guests to maintain their well-being journey with minimal disruption. Other plans include nutrition-focused dining experiences, skincare retreats, and wellness coaching.

Jumeirah is also seeing considerable success in the branded residences sector. Building on recent successes in Dubai, including a penthouse sale of $115 million that set a record at $4,200 per square foot — the highest in Dubai — the brand sees significant potential in this segment. “We want to lead the branded residence sector, and we’re designing our offerings from a resident-focused perspective, rather than just aiming for opulence for the sake of opulence,” Giannouka said.

Plans include developing a comprehensive business plan to address the unmet needs of families, particularly multi-generational ones who travel together. “Most hotels offer at best a kids club, but Jumeirah wants to take this a step further to create an educational and social environment where children can connect with themes of sustainability and environmental impact,” she said.

The brand also plans to help create meaningful parent-child engagement during vacations: “Parents are often busy and may not spend as much quality time with their children as they’d like. So we’re rethinking the family vacation experience from both a child’s and a parent’s perspective,” Giannouka said. “This includes designing programs that bring to life the next generation of family experiences and kids clubs at our hotels, all done at an ultra-luxury level.”

As luxury brands such as Jumeirah adapt to new consumer preferences, it’s clear that deeper cultural shifts — not just market trends — are fueling the change. This transformation reflects a reevaluation of what the industry considers “luxury,” from mere opulence to enriching, purpose-driven experiences. It’s a future where personal growth, family bonds, and sustainable living are the ultimate status symbols.

“As we chart our path forward with Mission 2030, we want to create experiences that extend far beyond the hotel walls. Our goal isn’t just to be another luxury brand. We aim to own and dominate our space by evolving in a manner that’s authentic to our roots, yet speaks directly to the needs of today’s discerning traveler,” Giannouka said.

Learn more about Jumeirah Group.

This content was created collaboratively by Jumeirah and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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Tags: cultural tourism, jumeirah, luxury hotels, SkiftX Showcase: Hospitality, tourism, Travel Trends, wellness tourism

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