Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Using Art to Market Hotels

the betsy

Hotels have been using art to appeal to the affluent market for years. I remember when we launched Ritz Carlton Hotels years ago, art in the public areas was promoted as a major amenity, as it would become with many other hotel groups and individual properties. Artists in residence, experiences with art such as the Peninsula Academy’s class in Chinese brush painting, art tours, and even one with the word “museum” in its name (21C Museum Hotel), have all been part of the appeal. But now, especially at the recent Art Basel in Miami, it has been taken to the next level, both in uses in marketing and in reaching out to new audiences.

And that’s not just travel products, but lifestyle in general, brands ranging from American Apparel and Fiat to Maserati, Harper’s Bazaar and Samsung. Publishing, apparel, automotive, beverage, food, they’re all jumping on the bandwagon and in a major way. According to a recent New York Times article, “In Marketing, Art’s the Thing”, they’re using art to reach consumers in their 20’s and 30’s who are already making art part of their lives, as a differentiator in the luxury category, and as a point of reference for relating to the beautiful and artisanal.  Miami hotels chose to wave their flag during Art Basel with popups – from The Newstand at the Standard Spa Miami and all night dining at The Raleigh to cultural events at The Betsy. The Betsy’s tie-ins were especially notable, featuring exhibits in its dedicated visual arts space, programming inviting guests to interact with the artists, and a cause related marketing initiative. Percentage of all works sold is contributed to the Zara Center for AIDS Impacted Youth in Zimbabwe.

Restaurants and bars got into the act with special themed menus like Red Steakhouse’s “Red Basel” and cocktail bar The Broken Shaker serving up drinks with their companion art. Pamela Drucker Mann, publisher of Bon Appetit cited food and art coming together, giving examples of restaurants designed to look like art galleries and “tablescaping”, designing table arrangements or centerpieces. Indeed, art sells.

Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psychographics and Hotel Lifestyle Branding Part 2

Using psychographics rather than demographics (see Part 1) what are the options and new directions in hotel lifestyle branding for the hospitality and cruise industries?

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.

Post by Karen Weiner Escalera, President and Chief Strategist

Psychographics and Hotel Lifestyle Branding Part 1

Branding

Special interests and passions are driving travel decisions more and more, from themed 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’s take a look first at the traditional “big four” of demographics: gender, age, geography and income and their influence today:

  • 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 they buy”- 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? Check out the answer in Part 2 tomorrow.

By Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist

Brilliant Sponsorship Promotion

 

How to get maximum promotional benefit from a sponsorship, especially one involving funding free admission to a museum or event? ING came up with a brilliant idea. As an offshoot of sponsoring free admission celebrating the reopening of the Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum, they recreated a living version of one of Rembrandt’s most famous works – The Nightwatch, in a major shopping center. The video of the live tableau went viral gobally, seen by over 4 million people on You Tube. The promotion is part of an ongoing collaboration between the museum and ING dating back to 2005. It includes the central museum and an annex in Schiphol Airport, the only airport in the world to have a museum.  Account holders are offered a 50% discount by showing their card. Congratulations ING.

 

New Twists on Eating Local

 

Erik Andrus explains The Vermont Sail Freight Project in their Kickstarter video

Erik Andrus explains The Vermont Sail Freight Project in their Kickstarter video

The eating of eating locally grown food continues to gain steam with new variations on water, land and sea, and novel ones at that.  Road warriors weary of the all too prevalent chain restaurants in airports and on interstate highways, will be delighted to hear that airports across the country are turning to leading hometown chefs for new eateries on the casual side. As reported in the New York Times,  at LAX airport, Michael Voltaggio of Ink and Ink Sack is opening an upscale sandwich shop and Suzanne Goin of the highly regarded Lucques will open a high end deli next month. Chicago’s Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill), Houston’s Bryan Caswell (Reef) and Denver’s Justin Cucci (Root Down) also have new dining spots on tap with extensive menu items to go.  Approaching local from a sustainable transportation model, Vermont farmer Erik Andrus launched the Vermont Sail Freight Project , a low tech approach to both food and energy,that features a 39 foot sailing barge, Ceres, that plies the Hudson River with produce from 30 new England farms. Produce is destined for sale in port towns from Hudson to Yonkers – farmers markets, dinners and parties. In an earlier post on the new phenomenon of the “hobby farmer’ we wrote about urbanites having their own chicken coops for fresh eggs. In the latest twist, a company started a business called “rent a chicken”. For $350 customers can rent a pair of egg laying hens, a supply of food, coop and water dish for a several month period to try it out. All the rewards of backyard chickens for much less responsibility. Sounds like an intriguing idea, but what do you do when you travel? How about a new business idea, hen sitters!?

What Millennials Want: Live Branding Case Study

Amherst College

Amherst College

The always innovative Frits Van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, commissioned a study of marketing and branding trends with students at Amherst College. The target market was young adults. The “Live Branding Case Study” was a first for Amherst, his alma mater, and a first for Starwood who has only worked with hospitality schools in the past. Among the questions were “What are your generation’s biggest concerns?”” How will these influence your purchasing behavior”, and “What three initiatives would you commission if you were Starwood’s CEO”?

Survey results revealed that millennials put a premium on businesses that embrace technology and environmental sustainability along with social responsibility in general. This smartphone bred generation wants more from hotel mobile apps, like being able to order room service even while on the plane with a touch of a button, or being able to network with other travelers. The students encouraged hotels to look beyond the onsite facilities to events like in house art galleries, concerts, book clubs and meetings. And what is probably no surprise, the importance of design as an end in ltself, part of the experience.

The insights are valuable but I think what’s most interesting is the idea of going to a liberal arts college to do what they billed as a “Live Branding Case Study”. As described by the editor in an article in Amherst College’s magazine, Van Paasschen wanted to leverage the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education and students’ interests ranging from fashion, real estate and finance to media and contemporary art. The Starwood CEO  said this will be the first of other similar studies, and I’m sure many other hotel companies will follow their lead. Interested in reading more about millennials and marketing? Check out our Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletters. 

Hotels Accelerate Innovation in F & B

Four Seasons Food Truck

Four Seasons Food Truck

kwe blog four seasons food truck 2

Over the years, first at my alma mater Hilton International and later
representing hotels and resorts, I frequently heard hotel GMs complain that
guests were bringing in pizza and fried chicken from the outside to their guest
rooms. This was particularly true in the off-season at resorts when the bargain
crowd moved in. Now, hotels have decided if you can’t fight them, join them.

As reported in the New York Times, the Amway Grand Plaza
hotel has created its own pizza delivery service .Convenient ‘grab-and-go’
restaurants with selections of sandwiches, salads and beverages  are
becoming more commonplace. The Westin Diplomat is one of several Westins that
created their own take on the concept with restaurants called ‘Ingredients, Some
Assembly Required’ in their lobbies. In some, but not all cases, these are in
addition to traditional room service offerings. For guests it’s a money/time
saving choice. For the hotels, it’s a way to capture some additional revenue
that would have otherwise gone elsewhere

With the high cost of running a food and beverage operation, hotels are looking
for more ways to capture revenue both in volume and by increasing the average
cover. In the luxury end, culinary experiences are increasingly more common which
offer the added benefit of reinforcing luxury branding. We’re also seeing
more hotels developing dedicated websites to highlight themselves as food
destinations. And, in one of the more exciting innovations, Four Seasons Hotels
has launched a food truck that is traveling to a number of its West Coast properties.

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

House Calls Spread to Other Retail, Service Areas

kwe goat2

 

Just when one thinks s/he has heard or read everything, how about this one — rent a goat, or rather, up to 800 goats. In the latest in ‘house calls”, Travel and Leisure describes a new Washington-based business that rents goats for brush removal . The animals are said to be able to eat two dump trucks’ worth of debris. The cost? $325. There are also podiatrists, car mechanics who fix your problem in your driveway, vets and even a nonprofit that sells medical marijuana to patients in San Francisco (prescription required). Next up in the hospitality industry? Rent a chef for dinner parties or room service (rather, house service) beyond the hotel doors.

Signature Amenities Go Far

Warby Parker sunglasses, an amenity from STND Air

Warby Parker sunglasses, an amenity from STND Air

 

Departures magazine this summer wrote about “status symbol” freebies and signature amenities which reminded me of how an amenity  can go far in building a brand, adding value, and generating press and word of mouth. The best amenities relate to the brand’s image and are something you can consume and are useful, as opposed to my least favorite amenity in the whole world – the paperweight. I also think it’s preferable not to have the logo prominent because then it can smack of an advertisement, lessening its value. One of the better ones I’ve read about in the same article is the Warby Parker sunglasses Andre Balazs gave all passengers last summer on his STND Air charter. Aman Resorts has their own leather luggage tags which have become collector items, another good one. Beauty salons who got the message include Kenneth Salon, a favorite of Park Avenue socialites, that serves tea sandwiches every afternoon and I remember a tony salon in Madrid that comes around with silver platters of  toast with olive oil, tomato, and the prized jamon Serrano. It’s surprising more top restaurants don’t give diners a takeaway – like New York’s The Modern, who I remember gave me a lemon pound cake as a parting gift. On the other hand, last year in Paris I had a martini at the signature bar of one of the city’s iconic hotels, paid the equivalent of about $50 for the martini and was served the usual bar snacks. A missed opportunity for sure.

Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President and Chief Strategist