Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Luxury Travel Trends 2017

luxury travel trends

Walking the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route in Spain, is an example of transformative travel

As we hit the half way point in 2017, what are the luxury travel trends that are shaping up? Some are a continuation of those of the past few years though with a new twist, and others are simply new. Here’s our list of the top six:

 

  • Personalization and customization. Butlers and personal concierges are expected at a top luxury hotel or resort. Their role is primarily reactive. A truly luxury experience is considered one where a resort finds out guests’ passions and special interests in advance of a stay and proactively suggests and plans activities and experiences that address those interests. Case in point: a Four Seasons Resort in the Caribbean sends a guest questionnaire in advance and designs a suggested program of resort and destination activities based on those needs.

 

  • Desire for authenticity. Everything from spa treatments and food to beverage, decor and selections in the hotel’s boutique should reflect the local culture and traditions, and give guests an opportunity to interact with that culture.

 

  • Giving back to society. Cause related marketing and the social responsibility of brands have been around for a decade or more including sustainability, recycling, voluntourism programs, and enlightened labor practices. Now, expect food waste to become a growing issue. With growing inequaiity in the world and media accounts of food shortages and starving populaces, consumers are looking at how their retail and hospitality brands are addressing this issue through food donations, upcycling and the like.

 

  • Making travel easier, from airport arrival to airport departure. With the entire process of traveling becoming more complicated and uncomfortable, hotels that can deliver a seamless door to door service, going beyond the strict hotel experience ,will build loyalty. Think airport greeters; alliances with luggage shipment companies; personal shopper to “stock” a hotel closet with clothes for a weekend getaway, eliminating the need to pack a suitcase; and a  waiting lounge for hotel guests in the airport. (this isn’t new but expect it to be more common).

 

  • Experiences and more experiences. The more they involve interactivity and special access the better.

 

  • Transformative travel. What do you do after you’ve been to Paris, Shanghai, Tuscany, Macchu Pichu,, the Taj Mahal several times? You search for experiences that are transformative – your health (wellness vacations); your spirit (ashrams, religious pilgrimages like the Camino de Santiago), your creative side (painting weeks), your mind (trips with political and economic themes like the New York Times trip to Saudi Arabia to explore the petroleum industry).

 

 

Best Way For Businesses to Use Snapchat

Snapchat Geofilters

 

Guest blogpost by Kevin R. Escalera

Snapchat is all in the news in marketing and advertising circles. Here’s a quick guide to geofilters, one of the best ways for businesses to use the app:

What is currently the best social media tool for brands to reach millennials?

Snapchat.

Why?

It’s the fastest growing mobile app among teens and millennials in the United States, passing Twitter and Instagram. Snapchat has over 100 million daily active users, with more accounts created each day. Over 8 BILLION videos are viewed on Snapchat each day.

How can businesses, events and brands easily use SnapChat to their advantage?

Custom branded geofilters.

Dunkin Donuts Geofilter

What are Geofilters?

A geofilter is a digital sticker that changes based on your location. Snapchat users are able to share your logo or event info without having any contact or interference from the sponsor or brand. These stickers can be added to any photo or video that you take in the Snapchat app.

Starbucks Geofilter

Why use Geofilters?

Geofilters are a fun way for brands to get in front of a lot of people attending events or visiting a store, restaurant or nightclub.

T-Pain Geofilter[2]

How do they work?

Step 1: Design a custom geofilter for your event or brand.
Step 2: Select a specific location that you are targeting using SnapChat’s Geofence tool.
Step 3: Select a date and time for your geofilter to go LIVE
Step 4: You are all set! Anyone in the area you have chosen at the selected moment who is using snapchat can see or use your filter while using the app.

What are the costs?

Minimal! Prices depend on how many hours/how large the area is but on average the costs are around $20 per hour for a mid-sized event space.

 

How to Increase the Average Length of Stay

Flower cottage of the Relais Borgo Santo Pietro

Flower cottage of the Relais Borgo Santo Pietro

 

How to increase the average length of stay? This was a question posed to me by one of our clients, a city hotel in Asia. The common tactic is to give an extra room night free based on a minimum length of stay –as in stay for 3 nights and get the 4th night free. But there are two other solid ideas. The first is to team up a city stay, adding on an extra night to the average length of stay, with two or three nights in a complementary destination, a several hour drive or an hour to an hour and a half  flight away (e.g. Bangkok with Chiang Mai or Phuket). To the guest, the benefit is that the work of packaging two destination highlights is done, and then you make it worth their while financially by giving a break in the total price or giving some value add. Besides gaining an additional night’’s revenue, there’s the advantage to the hotels of additional marketing support from another hotel or hotel group and use of a new customer database from a non competitive property.

An even better tactic is to offer exciting compelling activities on site and nearby that make a longer stay desirable. Probably one of the best examples I’ve seen (and experienced) is from the 16 room Relais Borgo Santo Pietro in Tuscany, Italy. The Relais, off of the beaten tourist track, though convenient to Florence and Rome, offers exciting activities that not only tap into  its competitive advantages, but also, a sense of place. They also offer guests an opportunity to learn new skills. In house there’s a resident florist who gives floral arranging classes from a cottage amidst an antique rose garden and does double duty making all of the arrangements for the hotel; an inhouse artisan  — a painter when I was there – who gives classes from her own cottage overlooking a lake; the Borgo Cooking school offers a myriad of classes for adults and children; garden walks; and wine tasting  . Venturing further afield, they offer everything from falconry and sightseeing from a two person plane with private pilot to truffle hunting, hot air ballooning, basket weaving, and novel sightseeing trips.

Rafael Ruiz – Front Office Manager says the Concierge program, which was launched in 2014 enjoys a 50% participation rate by guests and that since beginning the program, average length of stay from overseas guests has increased from 3 to 5 days. A final benefit is that guests leave the hotel wanting to come back and experience the other activities as well as the marvels of a superb resort and stunning setting. A winning formula in luxury hotel marketing ideas.

 

Extreme Romantic Travel

Flash mob for a wedding proposal

Flash mob for a wedding proposal

 

Romantic travel. It has a new twist as in extreme romantic travel. And we’re seeing it in everything from couples getaways and wedding proposals to honeymoons and weddings. It combines often luxurious settings with one-of-a-kind, over-the-top romantic experiences that couples might someday tell their grandchildren about.

Get this….for wedding proposals, how about a customizable flash mob? For those unfamiliar with this, it’s when a bunch of seemingly random strangers who happen to be hanging around, all of a sudden start dancing together to a song, which usually culminates in the end with something momentous, e.g. A wedding proposal.  These “strangers” are actually a combination of professional dancers and local volunteers who are recruited in advance and who train for this specific performance.

The luxury boutique hotel Napa River Inn in downtown Napa, California offers an “I Will” package where the “strangers” will be milling around on a patio downstairs, while a song begins to play.  Meanwhile the couple will be looking out from their hotel balcony at the view, or they will be downstairs on the patio, having a drink when the song begins.  The proposer can choose the particular song and the dancers will be choreographed to it by a professional in advance. Then, the Inn follows up the offering with a cleverly named “I Do” honeymoon package.

Adventure and extreme travel is an international trend as well.  A recent survey of 2,000 people in the UK revealed that the top modern honeymoon activities included such things as: zip lining, dolphin encounters, paragliding, cage diving with sharks, etc.

Meanwhile, this year several U.S. hotels offered “extreme” Valentine’s Day promotions, e.g. The Affinia Hotels had a “Naughty or Nice” promotion that included a strip poker set. The Renaissance New York Hotel 57 offered the “World’s Sweetest Suite” promotion, with more than 300 pounds of candy provided by Dylan’s Candy Bar creating a giant fantasy candy land suite for guests.  The Algonquin Hotel in New York brought back its publicity generating  $10,000 martini, that has a preselected diamond sparkling on the bottom.

So forget the chocolates and the flowers.  In the romantic travel ideas department it’s time to dive into deep waters (with dolphins) and get on board offering guests the romantic ride of their life.

High End Bricks and Mortar Retail: Last Man Standing

http://media.bizj.us/view/img/4507871/design-district-3*1200xx3264-1836-0-306.jpg

All the signs are there in luxury retail trends. Soaring urban real estate costs. Inevitable lifting of rent controls, most recently in Spain. Struggling popular priced malls. Lower middle class and middle class incomes strapped by stagnating wage growth. And add to this the rapid acceleration of online shopping.  In the developed world malls and mom and pop retailers are going away, the pace picking up steam.

What will replace them? For starters, in the short term, more ubiquitous and ever larger emporiums of global luxury brands and shopping centers geared to the affluent and elite affluent. Every summer when I go to Madrid I see it happening – independent fashion boutiques replaced by the names you know. In Miami, it’s starkly apparent. With Brickell’s CitiCentre project by Swire Properties, Miami-Dade County will have four high end shopping destinations – Bal Harbour Shops, Village of Merrick Park, and the Design District. During Art Basel I paid a visit to the new section of the Design District and frankly couldn’t believe my eyes – I thought I was transported to Beijing and the shopping center adjacent to the Opposite Hotel (operated by Swire Hotels).

I wrote “the short term” because I think that longer term, the affluent will be looking for more alternatives to the same global designer fare you find in Paris, London, New York or Shanghai. LVMH, Hermes and others have recognized this, and for awhile a few years back there was talk about going global and thinking local, as in designing products that were more of the place. I think they were on to something big, but there hasn’t been much talk of that recently. Absent this, and there will come a time when the affluent will look elsewhere, which they’re already doing online.

At the same time, the cost of marketing for small, independent retailers used to make business challenging, but now, with social media, promotion for a small budget is in the cards. And how about rents? I predict independent high end retailers will thrive despite the rents, considering the kind of profit margins they enjoy.

But there’s a lesson here too for smart real estate developers. My advice? To sprinkle their shopping centers with unique shops at mid-high price points to not only provide variety, but also, draw in the lesser affluent who can make one time luxury purchases and patronize the restaurants and bars. I read that CitiCentre plans to do this very thing. The shopping part of the project is run by the owners of Bal Harbour Shops. It will be very interesting to see what they do. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Culinary Tourism Trends: What’s In and Out

Eat With ; Hummus Brunch with Naama Shefi & Noam Bonnie ; Photo By: Eilon Paz

Make no mistake about it, culinary tourism is booming. It’s now a mature special interest category which brings with it higher expectations for novelty, creativity, and innovative offerings. Cooking and mixology classes, food and wine pairings, and food festivals seem so, well, yesterday. Here’s a look at what was and what’s now.

 

THEN NOW
Cooking classes Behind the scenes with the chef
Wine tastings Hot sauce or other specialty food tastings
Eating local Eating with locals in their homes or outside venues (e.g. mama cooks, eat with a local)
Group food tours Personalized dining itineraries based on food preferences, traveling configurations, budget
World’s Fair with Food Courts Food themed world’s fair (Milan Expo 2015)
Chef driven menus Crowd sourced menus
Dining as party Dining and conversation (“silence is the new luxury”)

 

And in the category of dining trends, it’s important to not leave out gluten free. Any major restaurant has to cater to the needs of gluten free diners. Not only is it expected, but the absence of sensitivity to these special needs loses business and also makes a statement about service.

It’s interesting that in two restaurant visits in Miami in the past 45 days, one to a multi million dollar upscale restaurant operated by an international group, there were only two items on a multi page menu for gluten free. I was with a group of 8 and the diner walked out. In another case, another high-end restaurant, the waiter and kitchen staff had obviously not been trained about this special needs group. Take note!

Photo courtesy of Travel and Leisure

 

Behind the Scenes Travel Experiences

16lvmh-span-superJumbo

 

It’s natural to think, who would be interested in a behind the scenes look at the engine room of a cruise ship? Or a look at the housekeeping department of a hotel? The answer, a lot of people. One of the favorite pastimes of cruise ship passengers at Carnival is the engine room tour.

In this day and age when all surveys point to an interest in travel experiences, certainly up there at the top are opportunities to see what is happening behind the scenes. This works not only for travelers, but also, for luxury brands in particular. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate craftsmanship, artisanry, expertise. A company that really gets the value of this is LVMH. And when they get behind a concept, they go all the way.

Case in point, in 2011 they launched what they called Open Days in which 25 of their brands from Dior to Dom Perignon opened their usually closed ateliers to the public. Tickets were free, but reservations were necessary. As reported in the New York Times, in year one 6,000 spaces allotted for Louis Vuitton’s workshop in Asnieres were taken within 90 seconds of release; for the Christian Dior Couture atelier it took 3 minutes to fill. They wrote, “From Paris to Poland, where Belvedere vodka is based, some 100,000 people attended the first open atelier weekend. Last year, the total was 120,000 and a third weekend is planned for 2015.”

This is obviously a low cost/no cost initiative and one most products and services could be able to do. Love to hear any behind the scenes offerings you do at your firm.

Photo courtesy of www.nytimes.com

Where is Luxury Going in 5 to 10 Years?

 

A European research firm interviewed me the other day about the luxury market —- trends in marketing, product, services. One of the more interesting questions they asked was where luxury is going in the next 5 to 10 years. My predictions are:

– Affluents will want more of a say in designing the products and services

– We’ll see the growth in offerings of bespoke products

– The use of crowdsourcing even at the highest levels. The challenge will be for brands to maintain quality while soliciting input from their customers.

– The big wild card is what will happen with luxury with the next generation,  Gen Y. They’re growing up in the midst of serious job scarcities for college graduates. Will this shape their buying patterns with a recession mentality, much like what happened with their grandparents? That won’t necessarily result in a decline in the luxury market, but rather, reinforce some of the luxury values, which have emerged in the last five years — an emphasis on quality, value and investment.

Look for more predictions in our next Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletter. We invite you to sign up to be on our mailing list.

 

– Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist of KWE Partners

 

 

Mobile apps: travel trends and opportunities

Mobile apps are transforming the travel space. This smart phone software extends a brand’s personality and creates new touch points with customers, giving them anytime/anywhere access. From runways shows to booking hotel stays, this technology reaches a younger more tech-savvy audience, in the hopes of building brand loyalty at a younger age. Apps can be central for hospitality brands for creating better relationships with their customers by being able to serve guests better before, during and after their stay. From Starwood to Langham Hotels apps, the end result is to enhance customer service and create more brand loyalty.

[more...]