Before the novel coronavirus hit, the world’s leading luxury goods houses were selling “experiences” where their jet-setting customers could indulge in opulent lodging and dining – and put it all on Instagram. Between 2010 and 2019, the demand for experience-based luxury, including fine wines and gourmet food, outstripped that for personal goods such as watches and handbags. Now, with Covid-19 having upended the trend, few are crossing oceans to stay at a Bulgari hotel or dine at a Gucci restaurant. However, companies from Giorgio Armani to Versace and LVMH might still be able to sell the strategy of tapping into luxury as a broader lifestyle. They could offer extravagant getaways to those happy to pay extra to dine, shop and relax in a safe and secluded environment, or (given people aren’t splurging on long-haul airfare) coax potential local customers out for exclusive hometown retreats. They could also expand their offering with a broader push into health and wellness, an area where spending was already booming before the pandemic. The world’s biggest luxury group, LVMH, is probably the most advanced on this frontier. It acquired Belmond, the owner of Hotel Cipriani in Venice in Italy, to complement its exclusive Cheval Blanc hotel chain. Other luxury labels aren’t far behind. Prada owns the historic Milanese pastry shop Marchesi, Ralph Lauren has chichi bars, and Kering’s Gucci has opened Osteria restaurants in Italy’s Florence and Los Angeles in the US with three-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura. These investments were made to cater to rich globetrotters – particularly from China – but while consumers are prepared to travel domestically or to nearby countries, demand for long-haul flights and luxury lodging catering to international clients remains and will remain low. It’s not clear when the number of big-spending tourists will bounce back – but when it does, LVMH will be able to offer its affluent customers everything from breakfast in bed to the dress they wear to dinner. It could throw in a visit to one of its vineyards in France or a distillery in Scotland for a truly personalised experience. In the meantime, with sales of top-end goods set to fall by as much as 35 per cent this year, luxury adviser Mario Ortelli says stronger brands may get opportunities to acquire assets that wouldn’t otherwise come onto the market – and when it comes to hospitality, that could include trophy hotels. Offering unique culinary experiences in the US or European markets could also be a way for groups to pull in a hip, local crowd. Some luxury-brand restaurants are already adapting to the new post-coronavirus reality: Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar in New York, for example, is offering its clientele home delivery. Although social distancing measures may mean fewer diners, this is not a huge worry for big luxury groups. For them, hospitality is more about creating an aura around their collections than making money. If fewer Chinese tourists are coming to Europe, there may be opportunities to export branded experiences to China, where luxury spending is recovering. Burberry’s Thomas’s cafe in London might not have reopened yet, but the one in its new Shenzhen store opened in partnership with Tencent has. Gucci plans to open another restaurant in Tokyo in Japan, but its Osteria collaboration with Bottura could be expanded to other Asian cities as well. Health and wellness offers another area for experimentation. This could include beauty spas and wellness services in flagship stores, such as the vitamin infusions offered by Harrods in London in Britain. With consumers still nervous about hitting the gym, helping wealthy customers get in shape is an avenue worth exploring, particularly given the increasing fusion between fitness and fashion. There are still risks – running restaurants, hotels and health spas is different to selling shoes and handbags. Hotels require a distinctive aesthetic and pockets deep enough to ride out the current travel slump. Even before the pandemic, a bad stay, meal or skin peel risked alienating those who would buy clothing and jewellery. Now, any brand offering these services faces the additional peril of its premises becoming a source of infection. LVMH has appointed an experienced executive to lead its charge: Andrea Guerra, formerly of Italian marketplace Eataly and Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica , will soon take up the role of chief executive of LVMH Hospitality Excellence. Partnerships with restaurants, hotel operators or high-end fitness chains are another option. For example, Marriott International operates the Bulgari hotels. Expanding into new categories amid the worst luxury downturn in modern history is not for the fainthearted – but the biggest players are taking a long-term view, and offering extravagant experiences is one area where this approach could pay off.