Four Must-Haves on Billionaires' Travel Lists

The four must-haves for billionaires? Privacy, flexibility, familiarity and tailored experiences.

European aircraft maker Airbus Ltd. commissioned London-based Ledbury Research to dig into the travel needs of billionaires and find out everything they could. 

And what they found is interesting.

The research was conducted through both surveys and interviews focusing on three regions: Russia, China and the Middle East. These three regions are seen as areas where the number of billionaires is growing, and Airbus wants to be a part of their purchasing plans with their line of corporate jets.

The survey found that billionaires want:

  • Privacy.  Although there is little surprise that billionaires want privacy, the survey found their desire for privacy is partially driven by the swelling numbers of wealthy individuals now enjoying benefits usually reserved for the most wealthy. The privacy they seek can be seen in where they choose to live as well as where they choose to vacation, in villas attached to luxury hotels.
  • Flexibility. Plans are always changing for the mega rich and to be a service provider to their travel plans, you need to react to their spontaneous agenda.
  • Familiarity. Most billionaires want their personal staff to accompany them while travelling, similar to what they have at home. Be these nannies, butlers or other private staff, they want continuity from home environment to travel environment. This can also be seen in the rental of residences: sometimes they will have a temporary residence redecorated before they arrive so it seems more like home.
  • Tailored Experiences. They want to be surprised and delighted, pampered and catered to, with the peculiarities of their personality taken into consideration

The survey also tried to determine if 'luxury' still exists for these wealthy individuals, and they found that it does, but it is more intangible than what might be expected:

  • Free Time. With the demands of business - and wealth - being high, having time to enjoy themselves is a valued luxury.
  • Enjoying Life. Mixing business with pleasure is an increasing trend in the billionaire community.
  • Loved Ones and Good Health. These things, things that money can't buy, are important. Although part of the Chinese culture, this is becoming more important for Russians and Middle Easterners.

When buying luxury items, billionaires have two buying habits:

  • Unique pieces. They're looking for one-off items that stand apart from the crowd.
  • Exceptional service.  When delivering a service, billionaires believe people should go above and beyond what they would normally do for other clients,

The survey also tried to determine what character traits, if any, that billionaires have in common. It found three:

  1. Highly Determined. They're confident in their decision making abilities and ideas and know what they want from the get go. According to the survey, this vision "can make them easier to deal with than high net worth individuals, despite being inflexible." 
  2. Detail Oriented and Intelligent. They can absorb new information quickly, and can easily pick up on mistakes.
  3. High Expectations. They're looking for service that goes above and beyond the normal.

The results were based on observations of 250 billionaires, gathered by using publicly available material and researchers looked at their dress, behaviour, cultural and leisure activities, business interests and media engagement. In addition, 25 advisors/service providers to billionaires were interviewed to add insight into their characteristics, lifestyles and habits.