Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Crafts: New Antidote for Stress Relief

New idea for meetings

Timberland coloring book

 

In a 24/7 demanding world,  even yoga and exercise don’t always work for stress relief. Enter crafting, the newest antidote not only to help rest the mind, but also to stimulate creativity in the workplace and a new idea for meetings. So no surprise that, as reported in Adweek,  adult coloring books are “taking the nation by storm”. They’re on Amazon’s list of best sellers, and cropping up in major brands such as Timberland’s marketing efforts. Even Vogue magazine has come out with its own entry. Coloring books also offer the benefit of being portable, inexpensive, appealing to all demographics and fun.

Michaels Craft stores now offer 150 coloring book titles along with other surfaces people can color on like T shirts, and canvases. And for the ultimate in stress relief, there’s the Meditation Coloring Book that combines calming thoughts with hands on craft activity.

Now how about this for a novel coffee break idea for a group meeting? Combine it with a juice bar and nutritious  snacks and voila. Or have a craft bar with easels for sketching or painting, day by day planners that you can personalize with stickers, and kits for making handstitched photo frames. All refreshing ,relaxing and creativity stimulating  options that are sure to be crowd pleasers.

Solo Travel, a Market Ripe with Opportunity

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Solo travel is a market ripe with opportunities with the industry just starting to get on board with special product and pricing.  The facts are clear. There are a lot more singles in the USA. Why? With the divorce rate hitting 53% and people living longer, which means more widows and widowers, people are spending more of their lives single. And then there are those who, though part of a couple, choose to go it alone because a partner doesn’t want an exotic trip, can’t get away at the desired dates, or needs a last minute break from a stressful job. In a Visa Global Travel Intentions Survey, in 2015 24 percent of people had traveled alone on their most recent overseas leisure vacation, up from 15 percent in 2013. With first time travelers, the numbers are even bigger – 37% in 2015 compared with 16 percent in 2013.

With these growing numbers, the travel industry is starting to take notice, and do something about it. Afar magazine devoted an entire issue to the topic and described companies that are getting on the “singles” bandwagon. Following Norwegian Cruises lead of offering studios and social lounges for solo guests without charging extra fees, small river cruise lines including Viking and AmaWaterways also got on board. Overseas Adventure Travel offers 50 no supplement tours and perks like roommate matching, making a serious statement about a commitment to single travel. And it has paid off – 40 percent of their guests come alone.

With a hint of whimsy, Four Seasons Safari Lodge in Tanzania has a Lone Ranger package that features working safaris and game drives with other solo travelers .

Probably the area where more hotels are catering to solos is in dining, with everything from a dinner -for -one menu and more communal style tables to special seating complete with reading material on request.

There’s so much more, though, that could be offered. How about hotel rooms designed for singles much as the cruise lines are doing? Or designating a month of traditionally low occupancy “solo” month where the supplement is waived? If you know of any other novel ideas, love to hear from you. Write me, Escalera@kwepr.com.

6 Things to Know About Mobile Consumers in 2016

mobile consumers 2016

 

One of the better articles I’ve read lately about the mobile consumer and some powerful statistics was in Adweek. Entitled “Dialing into Mobile Consumers 2016”, here are the article’s 6 major takeaways:

 

  • Mobile purchasing decisions are now heavily influenced by content that users generate and others read, primarily through product reviews and social media
  • Consumers are spending more time in apps than watching TV. In 2015 US smartphone and tablet users spent an average of 3 hours and 5 minutes a day using mobile apps, up from 2 hours and 51 minutes in 2014
  • 60% of buyers use mobile devices to research their purchases
  • If you combine Android and Apple stores there are over 2 million apps for consumers to download
  • According to a Pew report, 90 % of American adults own a mobile phone, 32 % an e reader and 42 % a tablet computer so a multi device approach to mobile purchasing is key
  • Building trust and having authentic content are essential

 

The author of the article on mobile consumers 2016 is Andrew Paradise, founder and CEO of Skillz, a mobile E-Sports company.

Photo courtesy of www.martechadvisor.com

Director of Happiness and Travel

happiness

 

Dubai, the Persian Gulf nation known in the travel world for the towering Burj al Arab hotel, the world’s biggest indoor ski slope, and an island that looks like a palm tree, is innovating once again with a newly announced Minister of State for Happiness. Though it’s more directed to its citizens, there’s no reason why it couldn’t set another precedent with a Director of Happiness for tourism. Think of the possibilities for destination marketing. From what I read, it would be the first.

I never heard about a Director of Happiness so went on a Google search to see what I could find in hospitality, travel, or in the business world in general. Surprise.  There are Directors of Happiness for employees, customers, and clients. And one site had a chart with the average salary for the job at $72K.  I even found a coach who specializes in happiness whose clients have included the likes of luxury brands Mont Blanc and Jaeger Le Coultre.

But let’s get back to travel and the opportunities there. I could see a destination naming a Director of Happiness as the centerpiece of a campaign to promote the idea that they go the extra mile to welcome travelers. It’d be a good publicity generator as well, provided that it’s part of a larger program that will show concrete results. Like what? First step would be  research to see what visitors would most appreciate. Friendlier locals? Meet the people type programs? More information kiosks? More public restrooms (that’d make a funny commentary)?  And think of the interview potential!

I was surprised in doing research that only one hotel has a happiness concierge – the Waidringer Hof in the Austrian Alps.
The job is described as a part concierge, guest attendant, and hiking guide. The mission: “Your pleasure is the centre of our strategy”.An admirable initiative, but needs to be more substantive.

So colleagues, you have an opportunity. And, finally, just in terms of interesting additional information, Dubai also named the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs as also having a new responsibility for “The Future”. I’d say the Director of Happiness should also be in charge of The Future wouldn’t you?

Fashion and Travel Branding

fashion and travel branding

Fashion has been used for some time  as an upscale or luxury branding tool in travel, especially for hotels and airlines. But in a new twist, we see an effective example of what it can do for a destination with Shinola and Detroit.

Big name designers have been leaving their mark on uniforms for years with airlines and hotels. Luxury designers from Armani to Versace and Missoni brand hotels and spearhead all aspects of design and sometimes even dining. Then we have had fashions made exclusively for resorts such as the  Christian Louboutin espadrilles for One & Only Palmilla , fashion popups to generate buzz and new customers, and boutiques that are destinations in themselves.  Interestingly enough, cruise lines have been slow to embrace this marketing and sales opportunity for some reason (any ideas why?).

fashion and travel branding

Now, hello fashion and destination marketing. Shinola which makes watches, high end bikes (think $2950 for a city bike) and classic design leather goods, has an advertising program that touts its Made in Detroit  roots. It plays on authenticity and a cool factor that also works to be a symbol of Detroit’s renaissance.  The graphic design of the ad campaign is sleek, classic contemporary, and pops.

fashion and travel branding

In Miami, home of its newest store, ad agency Partners & Spade opted for large placements as in full page ads, digital advertising and wall ads you could see from the highway. Photography is by the iconic Bruce Weber.  And the Miami shop was very well chosen to be in the hip artist district of Wynwood, best known for its street art. The bottom line: it’s effective in branding Detroit, heralding its rebirth, and imparting an image that’s at the same time classic and hip.  With revenues of $60 million in 2014, Shinola has also contributed jobs to the city’s rebirth. A win win for all. For more about Shinola, check out this article in the New York Times, “Detroit Cool Hits the Road”.

Is Aspirational Luxury Dead?

Ralph Lauren men's shop

Ralph Lauren men’s shop

 

Retailing and the world of luxury fashion is all aflutter with the appointment of Stefan Larsson as CEO of Ralph Lauren. Larsson came up through fast fashion giant H & M and then went on to get Old Navy back on track. As you know, Lauren built his business with fashion that called to mind Old Wealth which was personified in an upscale preppy way of dress and lifestyle. One could say he took the Brooks Brothers approach, added more of a fashion element, and marketed the fashion with Old World trappings. The price point wasn’t cheap, but it was accessible, compared with the look he imitated. Aspirational luxury. Is it here to stay in fashion, travel and lifestyle in general?

Now this new CEO has a totally different background in new -to- the- brand market segments and comes from the egalitarian Swedish society. One’s first reaction. Can he recreate this aura of luxury lifestyle, albeit updated, which Lauren obviously wanted to do by going with such a radical new hire? Or, as Barbara Thau wrote in Forbes.com, does this mean aspirational luxury is dead so he’s going to take a totally new approach to the brand?

She also ties that in with her contention that conspicuous consumption is a thing of the past. I don’t agree with either premise.

First, conspicuous consumption. As I’ve written about before, during the Great Recession, extravagance was seem as unseemly and, in the hotel business in particular, a serious negative. Companies couldn’t be seem as having luxury trips for executives when the public was suffering financially. But all of that has changed. The elite 1% has no compunctions about spending — the media is filled with stories about extravagance and over the top purchases reflecting the reality of what’s going on out there.

And as for aspirational luxury, I contend that it will always be with us. What will change is what is the desired luxury lifestyle to be emulated. There will always be a “luxury uniform” as Thau called it, though it will change. Instead of rich Mahogany paneled studies filled with antiques and Persian rugs, maybe there will be minimalist Italian furniture that cost five figures, and technology that’s in the same ballpark budget. The clothes? No gold buttoned blazer to be sure, or a fine Egyptian cotton bespoke shirt and custom trousers. How about a t-shirt made from some hard to get hi-tech fabric, a hoodie from the rarest of rare cashmere along with custom sneakers and  a Hermes Apple watch? And, a new turn is having fashion reflect one’s individuality and creativity — perhaps the ultimate luxury?

Hotels you say? Much less about baroque palaces from European nobility with Michelin star chefs in formal dining rooms. Think Richard Branson and the kind of hotels he builds and travel experiences   that personify the adventurous, innovative lifestyle. Things certainly are a changing. Lauren got that right as he has been so prescient with many other customer aspirations. It will be fascinating to watch.

5 Tips to Market to “Seniors”

marketing travel to seniors

A market segment of senior travelers crave soft adventure

 

Seniors I speak to don’t like to be addressed as such, so it was no surprise to read results from a recent survey about five must “do’s” and “don’ts” in marketing to baby boomers and older.

With the kind of disposable income this demographic has, it’s well worth the time and effort to give heed to this valuable advice from Bronwyn White, co-founder of the Sydney based travel research firm MyTravelResearch.com.

As helpful background White said: “Today’s seniors were a product of ‘the swinging sixties’ and the seventies. In Western societies, they were a generation that saw liberated sexual experiences, the pill, the rise in feminism, experimentation with substances and a new freedom never experienced before.

“Many of them were wild, adventurous and exploratory. Today they are looking to rekindle that fire through travel adventures now that the kids have left home. Senior travellers come with a natural intrigue and a zest for life rarely seen with any other segment of the market,” she added.

Here are her five tips along with Karen’s additional comments:

Use ageless marketing, particularly imagery

Seniors don’t think they are senior, therefore they do not readily relate to images of seniors or text that talks to seniors. Age-based marketing is counter productive. Age does not define values, attitudes or behaviour. Use ageless marketing that emphasizes universal values such as love, friendship, loyalty, altruism and fitness. (Karen’s note: I’d also add that they downright dislike being called “senior”. I recently asked a small group why, and they said because focusing on age conjures up images of limited possibilities and opportunities which they don’t like to be reminded of).

Emphasis value, not low cost

“Contrary to popular myth, the senior traveller is not obsessed with cheap deals. They are very clear about this. When they do their research, they are simply looking for value for money – travelling in off-peak periods, bonus night offers, food and beverage deals, late check-outs, or tie-ins with local service providers. (Karen’s note: definitely do not use the word “cheap” as it connotes low quality)

Be smart about search engine use

“It is not necessary to use the term ‘senior’ on your website, unless you are referring to a discount in your pricing (then they’ll happily become a ‘senior’). The secret is to talk to a mindset and attitude rather than an age group. If you are paying big bucks for the term “Senior Travel” through Adwords or any sort of pay per click campaign, think again. Seniors who do actually include the search term ‘senior’ tend to be penny pinching and will give you a very low conversion rate.

Use language that hints at life-changing experiences:

“Seniors are not so interested in acquiring material assets. They’re interested in acquiring life-changing experiences – especially in travel.” (Karen’s note: and don’t underestimate the desire of some in this age group to crave soft adventure – many are fit, in good health until their 80’s and like to boast of their believe-it-or-not feats)

Market to single seniors

“We have seen a rapid growth in senior singles wanting to travel. The majority are women. They may be newly divorced or newly widowed. Or we have often come across a married single senior whose husband or partner has no interest in travel. It is important to appeal to a sense of emotional security.” (karen’s note: They like to travel in groups but there’s also a market for ones who want to travel on their own with the services of a guide in every destination).

Photo courtesy of www.mytravelresearch.com

 

PR and Hotel Trends, ROI

In case you missed it, here’s a podcast with agency President and Chief Strategist Karen Weiner Escalera on public relations trends, PR and ROI and travel trends including the niche economy. The interview appeared in www.hospitalitytimes.com.

The link to the 23 minute podcast, click here.

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.

 

 

 

 

Spirits Tourism

Kentucky Bourbon Road Trip

Kentucky Bourbon Road Trip

Wine tourism has been around for decades – tours of vineyards, wine hotels, and wine trails, from California and New York to New Zealand, Australia, Europe, the southern tier of South America and more. Of late, thanks to craft breweries we’re seeing a growing number of craft beer festivals and museum like brewery tours. The newest link in the chain, not surprising given the celebrity status of mixologists and interest in new beverage taste sensations, is spirits (as in liquor) tourism. Spirits tourism is following what is a major growth in spirits revenue nationwide. Excluding wine and beer it has doubled to over $50 billion from 2000. Its appeal is also based on an interest in local products and history and, similar to craft beers, the boom in craft liquors. A recent google search revealed a surprising number of states – Delaware, Washington, Oregon, New York, that have gotten on the bandwagon with spirits trails, sometimes combining them with wineries and breweries.

Not only distillers, but also state and local governments see this as a new source of tax revenue and jobs, as well as a new tourism niche. Kentucky, in particular, is getting in on the act, enjoying a special upswing from bourbon, with new distilleries being built, complete with a tasting room for sipping bourbon and looking at the local scenery. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a collection of distilleries on a scenic route, attracts thousands of visitors annually. Distilleries offer behind the scenes tours where one can watch vats of yeast bubbling and workmen rolling barrels of whiskey as they’ve done for decades. In downtown Louisville, Whiskey Row is being revived with a new distillery for Old Forester, the country’s first bottled bourbon. Another producer, Wild Turkey, has paid double in taxes this year, twice what it paid in 2010 thanks to robust sales. For hotels and restaurants, craft spirits are a new avenue for public relations, with the media devoting more space to everything from drink recipes and signature cocktails to star mixologists. One of the more clever outtakes is the bar at the new Traymore restaurant at the Metropolitan by COMO. It has a gin bar boasting 40 different kinds of gin and the Apotheker at the Shelbourne Wyndham Grand South Beach, a riff on bar as pharmacy.

Photo courtesy of NationalGeographic.com