Like others, the luxury sector is always looking for the next big thing. With the middle class growing faster than the upper class, the opportunities may be just one demographic away.
The Skift New Luxury newsletter is our weekly newsletter focused on the business of selling luxury travel, the people and companies creating and selling experiences, emerging trends, and the changing consumer habits around the sector. We’ll keep in mind the needs of the specialist travel agents who sell these products as well as the sophisticated consumers who shop for them.
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Skift has expanded its scope of coverage into various sectors of travel, and we are now looking at the business of modern luxury travel.
Today’s update starts in Beverly Hills, skips over to Havana and Madagascar and then on to Japan as we look at tourism marketing, new tour products, and a very fast, very nice luxury train experience. We also take time to look at training programs for hotel staff and talk to the founder of one of the world’s most creative independent hotel groups. At the same time, we look at a new report that suggests luxury brands need to keep the middle class in mind to attract future growth and a new generation of consumers.
— Jason Clampet, Editor-in-Chief
You’d think that being known as the ultimate American destination for a certain kind of ostentatious luxury would be enough. But Beverly Hills is not resting on its swanky laurels. This week, the city is kicking off its new City of Wellth (yes, that’s how they spell it) initiative, designed to showcase its abundance of wellness options. Now you can spend a fortune shopping on Rodeo Drive, then find a place to quietly contemplate your coming credit card bill.
Service is the most important part of any hospitality business, but an even more significant differentiator in the luxury sector. When every five star hotel offers the same luxury amenities, it is the individual actions of staff that set a brand or even property apart from another. Luxury hoteliers often face similar challenges as other high-end brands and should seize the opportunity to start a conversation about luxury training and employment that crosses several sectors.
Luxury operators have old standards that will never go out of style — Paris, Tuscany, and the like — but like any other provider they are constantly tweaking exiting products and launching new ones. The line between emerging and not ready for prime time can be a thin one that luxury operators must walk.
The size of luxury hotels’ customer market is growing quickly as disposable incomes in some sectors become more common and better informed travelers look to improve the basic travel experience. New luxury consumers need to come from somewhere, and a slightly more wealthy middle class can provide an entry point for brands.
More Luxury Insight
Although I’ve managed to ban the Acela from my life, opting to fly between New York City and Washington, D.C., there’s the odd occasion when I have to get on the U.S. rails and join one of the most overpriced, underwhelming experiences in travel. Japan ups the ante on luxurious rail travel, and builds a product the operator thinks will diversify revenue sources. Now if only tickets could be had.
In the heart of the capital of a nation founded on ideals of social equality, the business arm of the Cuban military has transformed a century-old shopping arcade into a temple to conspicuous capitalism. Will U.S. travelers looking for an escape from consumerism be turned off as Cuba introduces more luxury experiences for vacationers?
Sendlinger is a big believer that his initial inspiration for Design Hotels, to bring communities together, is something that still has tremendous appeal for travelers, beyond just having impeccable design. Claus Sendlinger’s thoughts on curation and programming are something the hotel industry should be paying more attention to.
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Photo credit: Demographic changes point to more opportunities for luxury brands in the middle class.