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What experiences would you seek out if you had all the money in the world?
Capturing the loyalty of one of these high-end and high-spending travelers ensures years of lucrative business, but companies have to offer unique experiences and stay constantly connected to their consumers to succeed.
This, according to “A Global Snapshot of New and Emerging Trends in the Luxury Travel Market,” a report by The Future Laboratory that outlines whats luxury travelers are looking for and how companies can provide it in 2013.
The five major trends presented below all tie back to offering unique and authentic experiences:
Loyalty 2.0: Experiences over upgrades
High-end travellers tend to travel often and stay with a single brand for hotels and airlines; however, they are looking for tangible benefits for their loyalty. A survey by The Future Laboratory found that 94 percent of exhibitors at ILTM believed ‘authentic local experience’ were what luxury travelers wanted most.
In addition to experiential benefits, hotels are also starting to introduce constant concierge programs and tech benefits for constant complimentary connectivity. Programs like Starwood Hotel’s Road Warrior concierge allow loyal luxury guests to check in or out at any point in a 24-hour period.
This statement from Pamela Danziger, President of Unity Marketing, explains it best: “People at these elite levels can generally pay for the things they want and desire. But behind-the- scenes access, the exclusive experiences that money alone can’t buy, are what hotels can offer to keep them interested.”
Travel collaboration: Adding extra flavor
Traditional collaborations are not necessarily new, 70 percent of exhibitors at ILTM have partnerships with other travel and hospitality brands, but companies are beginning to mix it up by partnering with local and non-travel brands.
Increasingly luxury hotels are tapping nearby businesses to local add local flavor to a property. For example, the Ace Hotel in New York offers an in-house suit service from Brooklyn tailor. Hotels are partnering with luxury car and fashion brands to create designer label hotels like the Armani Hotel in Dubai, and partnering with local competitors to offer themed promotions like New York City’s Design Collection promotion.
One luxury guest sums it up: “Do I expect hotels to open doors for me to experience the sights and sounds of the neighborhood? Absolutely.”
Social engagement: Hotels get geeky
Hotels that aren’t engaging with consumers or working on online branding strategies can no longer be considered serious players. Three-quarters of consumers are more likely to buy from a travel brands with a strong presence on social media than one that relies on traditional channels, found a study by Abrams Research.
Hotels are getting geeky for their guests by recommending city apps as part of the turndown service, adding TripAdvisor reviews directly to their homepages, rewarding guests that virtually check-in at the hotel bar or restaurants, and sending useful directions before a guest’s arrival.
Travel themes and fantasy fashion
New cultures and experiences aren’t always enough; some travelers want to leave reality behind and seek out hotels or tours that seem to exist in another time period.