Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Young Foodies, your Devoted Customers-to-Be

Mikey Robins, 15, is the youngest champion of the Food Network's "Chopped".

Mikey Robins, 15, is the youngest champion of the Food Network’s “Chopped”.

More on millennials marketing. Remember you read it here first – teenagers and offspring of affluent parents will be a food focused generation. All of the signs are there. Teens favoriting the Food Network and other foodie shows, then trying out what they see in the kitchen. Even toddlers have become adventurous eaters and think nothing of eating sushi, sashimi and “Babe-a-ccinos” (a coffee free cappuccino).  We are, indeed, a food obsessed population. Look not only at the proliferation of cooking schools, growth of culinary tourism, tourist board food and wine festivals, but social networking sites, blogs, and review sites. Youngsters are eager to join their parents in cooking classes at the pricier resorts around the world. I have a 13 year old niece whose best friend gave her a ring that was inscribed with the words “kale” in honor of her obsession with the dark green leafy vegetable. Where does this come from? Their parents’ foodie culture.

Now we’re seeing exhibits honoring the world’s leading chefs: early next year will be an exhibit of the drawings and diagrams of master Spanish chef Ferran Adrià at the Drawing Center in New York.  And then there’s the Food Hotel which we’ve written about before. What does this all mean to marketers? Capturing the imagination and interest of these young foodies can create indelible memories that can translate into a devoted customer-to-be.

 

Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President and Chief Strategist