Five Trends That Are Rocking What We Mean By Luxury
By Babs Harrison, Managing director of Phoenix based Babs Harrison and Partners
Poor luxury. Once a favorite word in hotel and resort marketing, it's now scorned by many - in large part because it has been so misused and overused by so many. That's spawned guest skepticism and a search for alternative vocabularies.
But if we get the trends - when we harness them - we are very much in sync with what today's travelers want.
Miss the trends and we miss where high-end consumers want to spend their hospitality dollars.
So, what are the trends we need to know and monitor?
now is crucial to the luxury vacation experience. Singapore is all in in this trend. Said Singapore in a sponsored content piece that's run in US travel trades: "today's travelers are seeking to go beyond immersion to travel of a different sort—travel that transforms through life-changing experiences and meaningful connections."
Marriott too is on board. Marriott's Tina Edmundson said: "people will talk about experiences and highly personalized service, but the reality is that today's luxury is adding this notion of personal development and transformation as part of their repertoire and part of what they want to accomplish. Travel is an important conduit for achieving that."
So true. Transformative now is central to an understanding of what today's consumers want from luxury. Many more are talking about than delivering it.
Butler service alone is not good enough. The traveler wants to emerge changed and better. That's a challenge? You bet. And that's why getting it right is such a powerful differentiator.
If you do nothing else, get this right - and you will have taken a giant step towards winning the luxury wars.
also matters a lot. I see so many travel purveyors with listings of "luxury experiences" that have all the individuality of a Sears catalog listing. That does not work. What guests insist upon now are curated experiences where the curation is done for them, where it captures who they are and what their aspirations are.
Know your guest. Know what they want. You don't want to offer a luau pig experience to a Hawaiian guest who is a vegan.
What this now requires to get it right is digging deep into who this guest is.
Ask - transparently - for guests to tell you about themselves and most will.
Listen. Personalize. And you are edging closer to getting the new luxury.
Authentic. This is a word that needs be writ in large type in every traveler marketer's to-do list. Guests want authentic experiences.
Give that guest in Bali uniquely Balinese moments, not generic pan-Asian interludes.
A traveler goes to the Serengeti for what? The thrill of seeing the Great Migration and the Big Five. At least for the pursuit. That's authentic. Local. Powerful.
In San Francisco, there's old Chinatown, the Haight, walking the Golden Gate. Of course there are ersatz tourist moments, mass-produced and sanitized. File such under inauthentic.
Dig into the authentic and that's the path to firing up guests in the 21st century.
Bucket list - especially disappearing moments.
Speaking of the Big Five, a lot of guests are streaming to Africa precisely because seeing the Big Five has long been on their personal to-do list - and now they fear the opportunity to do this may be shrinking.
Others go to Ladakh to experience real Tibetan Buddhism (admittedly in India but it is more authentic there, according to many).
The global environment is fast shifting. Some experiences need to be had today - because next year they may not be an option.
Affluent guests want theirs and they want it now.
How can you deliver?
Always think about distinctive - special - photographic moments because today's guests, including the high-end, crave images of their travels that they can share with friends and relatives, perhaps via social media, maybe via private photo albums.
Don't think hackneyed imagery. What can you suggest that is special BUT still encapsulates the unique guest experience at your resort and your location.
That is no easy feat.
But high end guests don't want to share the very same image of themselves in front of the Eiffel Tower that already appeared 10,000 times on Facebook today.
Go way deeper.
This doesn't sound easy, in fact none of these five steps do? Guess what: if it's easy, everybody already is doing it.
Work harder. Think smarter. That is the path to delivering today's luxury guests the stays that justify the money. Just follow the five steps and you will find the smart path to success.
Babs Harrison + Partners