The introduction of both the experience and sharing economies can potentially be seen to be the start of a new type of luxury accommodation, but is that really true? The generation best adapted to such changes, who are also the generation to shape the future is the millennials. However, the research literature does not seem to understand millennials’ expectations of what tangible and intangible variables are to be found in luxury accommodation. This conceptual paper will attempt to fill this gap, taking a critical look at the future of the leisure luxury accommodation industry.
Experience economy, leisure travel, luxury hotels, millennials, sharing economy.
Initial readings of the luxury phenomenon suggest that a singular definition that is accepted by all is virtually impossible. It is argued that the word luxury holds different meanings for everyone (Berry, 1994; Weidmann et al., 2007) – a sentiment academics thus far have agreed with (Choi, 2003; Wiedmann, Hennigs & Siebels, 2009) – brought about from differences in cultural backgrounds (Hoffmann & Coste-Marniere, 2012). Luxury is seen to be a fluid concept, with 21st century concepts of luxury driven by ideas which relate to innovation, creativity and excellence (Gardetti & Giron, 2014), fuelling society’s love and need for technological advancements in our day-to-day living habits. As the times move ahead, so does luxury – suggesting that what luxury meant 50 years ago does not necessarily count as luxurious today! As one luxury becomes familiar over time, the next desired product/service will need to take its place, predicting that the luxury concept as envisioned in the present will soon be overtaken by the thoughts of the future (Gardetti & Giron, 2014).
For luxury hotel branding, again things are accelerating rapidly. The Victorian(esque) grand hotels of Europe, which traded on their royalist reputations, were operated by large multinational luxury hotel corporations, and functioned in prestigious locations such as London and Paris, and are quickly being eclipsed by more innovative and pioneering modern designs in locations such as Dubai and Singapore (Slattery, 2012). The calibre of luxury hotels is both improving and becoming more diverse, leaving the hotel industry confused about labelling that uses established national and international hotel classification systems (Slattery & Games, 2010).