Special interests & passions are driving travel decisions more and more
weeks at hotels and cruise ships and tour operator offerings to learning vacations and now, hotel brands. Drivers in travel buying decisions are increasingly about psychographics – behavior – rather than demographic determinants.
Let'stake a look first at the traditional "big four" of demographics: gender, age, geography and income and their influence today:
The Traditional BIG FOUR
- Gender lines continue to blur with women taking on more of the traditional role of men and vice versa, and the advent of same sex marriage.
- Age is also less important. Whether it's the "coveted" 18-34 males or moms from 25-44, this is an outdated way to target for many reasons. First, people are age shifting and not living lives based on their chronological age. Second, the top end of a demographic (34) has almost nothing in common with the low end (18). Also, age demos leave out influencers and others for whom a message may be relevant. Finally, focusing on age can take you away from emotional or other relevant benefits.
- Then we have geography. In this global, highly mobile world, people often spend their lives in multiple cities.
- Of the four determinants, the only one that is still very important is income, especially at the two ends of the spectrum: budget and high end. Price will trump passion if you're on a budget and at the high-end, travelers are reluctant to compromise their comforts and service.
However, these traditional measurements don't tell you "why theybuy" - why consumers would choose one brand over another. Psychographics, or lifestyle and behavioral information are playing a larger role in hotel branding, which was my topic as a panelist for the Urban Land Institute, Southeast Florida/Caribbean chapter, last month. What are some of these options and new directions for the hospitality and cruise industries?
NEW Options & Directions
- The oldest lifestyle branding route is still through a celebrity recognized in a specific category, primarily food/chefs (Daniel Boulud), golf (Jack Nicklaus), and architecture/design (Philippe Starck).
- Major hotel brands like Starwood Hotels and Resorts and IHG are segmenting by special interests. Starwood has been a leader in this over several decades, with its fashion brand (W), wellness (Westin) and the newest, eco-luxury (1Hotel) and entertainment (Aloft). At the same time, they continue to build their straight luxury portfolios, with high end appeal (The Luxury Collection and St. Regis).
- Lifestyle brands especially from the fashion world – Versace, Armani, Bulgari, Missoni and others – are creating immersive hotel brand experiences at the high end. In a very interesting development, at the other budget end of the spectrum, Marriott is doing a partnership with IKEA. My prediction: always one to watch, LVMH will use its hotel acquisitions to showcase its full range of lifestyle product lines. Imagine this: you walk into their hotel and are greeted by runway models, offered a glass of Moet et Chandon. Want more? Visit the Moet et Chandon Ice Lounge (already in existence). Choose your fashion suite – Celine, Donna Karan, Fendi, Pucci maybe with Acqua di Parma bath amenities. It's dinner time and you're hungry? Head down to the restaurant through the lobby fragrant with the newest perfume from Dior, order a lobster and a glass of Chateau d'Yquem. And before heading home, stop off in the hotel shop and pick up a Bulgari or Chaumet watch as a memento of your stay.
- And finally, the newest option is to brand by a niche, special interest category. Examples include the Food Hotel, Divorce Hotel, Women Only Hotel, and the Pet Hotel. Interestingly enough, most of these have come out of Europe. Marketing associations with a niche such as Design Hotels are yet another choice, also a European invention.
On this same ULI panel, I was joined by Richard Millard, Chairmanand CEO of Trust Hospitality, who mentioned that his group's latest management contract was with a hotel in Honduras, a country that is notoriously known as one of the world's crime capitals. What lifestyle brand would work for this property? How about the Safe Hotel, which could be rolled out to other risk destinations? Now we're talking about big potential.
NEW! Tune into Karen's interview with Business Radio 880AM on "How to GetKnown as an Industry Authority, Media Source." Check out Karen's presentation at the Association of Travel Marketing Executives Conference on "The Changing Face of PR" and our newest case study on the 90 day launch of the Aloft Miami Doral.
innovative marketing, public relations and social media campaigns for a "who's who" of luxury brands: from global hotel brands, boutique hotels, spas and resort developments, to destinations, cruise lines and travel technologies. We approach PR as a branding tool, with sales-oriented thinking and ROI. Our relationships secure clients top-tier media placements and our award-winning social marketing campaigns leverage influencer and consumer engagement to exponentially increase clients' visibility and online reach.
Our innovative uses of social media won the top 2 social media awards in travel & hospitality: Travel + Leisure's 2012 SMITTY(Social Media in Travel + Tourism Award) & HOTELS 2012 SOHO (Social Hotels Award). In addition, agency President & Chief Strategist, Karen Weiner Escalera was named by Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) as one of the "Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds" in hotel sales and marketing.
As thought leaders in the travel industry, we go to great lengths to identify emergingtrends so clients can benefit from changes in the marketplace. We deliver the latest travel industry analysis and forecasts through our internationally syndicated Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Trends newsletter and blog.