Luca Franco, CEO & Founder of Luxury Frontiers, reflects on the past 10 years in the sustainable hospitality space.
Ten years ago, the world was recovering from a global crisis. Many industries, among them travel and hospitality, were still feeling the effects of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Whether it be a global recession or a global pandemic, I can’t help but reflect on the similar state we find ourselves in today.
The crisis that occurred last decade sparked an evolution in the market where the Luxury Frontiers journey began. Financial uncertainty caused a cultural and behavioral shift where consumers began to prioritize travel to collect meaningful memories rather than things. Consumers were particularly seeking travel experiences that allowed them to reach beyond the boundaries of their everyday world. Out of this movement, adventure and experiential travel took off, with travelers seeking transformational experiences in remote locations. In the midst of another catastrophic global event and entering the next decade of Luxury Frontiers, I can’t help but wonder what this new crisis’s cultural evolution will be and where the next 10 years take us?
The consumer evolution was most visible in the luxury African safari market. Affluent travelers, particularly from the United States and the United Kingdom, were seeking nature-immersive experiences without sacrificing luxury. Driven by market demand and a noticeable structural change in the hospitality industry, I started Luxury Frontiers in 2011 seeing a niche market to bring the African safari experience to the rest of the world by designing and developing experiential resorts and lodges.
While not exempt from setbacks and initial lukewarm reception by many in the industry, ten years on I have seen how the interest and demand grew exponentially in the Americas and the Middle East, with world-class projects such as Nayara Tented Camp and Camp Sarika by Amangiri under our belt and several others about to see light. Our projects are examples of this strategy, both providing an immersive experience with nature without sacrificing luxury, sustainability, and a sense of place. Throughout the past decade, we have seen the adventure and experiential market explode and global brands marketing strategies have followed suit. This tells us we were on to something back then.
But here we are again, in the midst of a global pandemic, with the travel industry in tatters. We find ourselves looking at another fundamental shift in the industry driven by consumers eager to venture into and explore the natural world. I believe this will lead to another fundamental shift in the way we travel and relate to our surroundings. After being cooped up inside for almost an entire year, we are looking to nature, national parks, state parks, and wildlife to inspire, balance and heal us. If this crisis bears any similarities to the crisis of the last decade, the travel market is at the cusp of another cultural and behavioral evolution where tourists take social responsibility for their footprint and seek to leave places better than they found them. Travelers will seek to both regenerate the soul while regenerating tourism-dependent destinations allowing for stewardship of the land. Rewilding the environment, while rewilding the spirit.
If the last decade was about transformational travel and meaningful journeys, the next 10 years will be about purpose, returning to, and enriching nature. In this new scenario, Luxury Frontiers is set to evolve by elevating our designs by embracing biophilic inspiration, which fosters beneficial connections between travelers and nature – engaging and stimulating them to embark on unfiltered adventures.