Skift Take

Creating customized college packages is smart for several reasons: Parents are happy to pay for a less stressful experience and young affluent teens become comfortable with a brand during a critical and memorable moment, leading the way for future business.

Gen Zers are about to overtake millennials to comprise 32 percent of the global population.

And with that growth, luxury brands are eager to capture this young population who will soon be in the position to make more decisions for themselves, including where and how they travel.

The college selection process is often when this young customer base begins imagining its future, making brand decisions to align themselves with this feeling of freedom and exploration a clever one.

Mandarin Oriental this fall announced a new package catering to families visiting college campuses. The College Tour Package includes luxury suits, a partnership with private jet provider XOJet for flights, and admissions coaching with college entrance consultant Abby Siegel. The package is only available September through November 15 — the busiest months for college tours.

The package creates an experience in which the families feel supported and pampered, giving Mandarin the opportunity to position itself as a refuge whether in college or on the road for business and pleasure in years in to come. The partnership is also a smart one for XOJet. It not only provides the perfect use case for flying private, but aligns the jet provider with the weight of Mandarin’s brand.

“Expanding our partnership with an acclaimed hospitality leader like Mandarin Oriental allows us to better meet the needs of our sophisticated clientele,” James Henderson, president of commercial operations for XOJet, said in a press release.

Mandarin Oriental is not the first brand to go after college kids.

Last year, Delta Air Lines Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mapes talked about the airline’s strategy for building relationships “emerging high value customers” while still in university.

Upon noticing that Delta’s younger customers were more likely to buy-up premium products, the airline increased its effort to drive SkyMile sign-ups and introduced a no-fee product called Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card with American Express with which consumers receive twice as many points for purchases at restaurants.

On the other hand, some colleges are cutting out the middle man and forming partnerships in which they own luxury hotels themselves.


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Tags: luxury, millennials

Photo credit: The English Garden at the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta. The hotel company is tapping into the college tour market. Mandarin Oriental

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