Car companies like Porsche and BMW have been wise to the travel experience craze for years. The Porsche Travel Club and the BMW Driving Experience have been around for years. More recently, though, these premium car brands, along with many of their competitors, are starting to cross lanes, teaming up with luxury hotels to drive their respective brands.
It’s all part of the brand collaboration trend that’s occurring more broadly in the luxury sector. According to UK-based WGSN, a global trend forecaster, 78 percent of luxury brands surveyed plan to collaborate by 2020.
“To stand out, the best luxury names must look for exclusivity and relevance. They should focus on partnering with brands who have similar audiences, but different functions, to create unique experiences. One plus one can equal three, if executed well,” WGSN said.
Hotel companies are choosing to do that math in a variety of ways. Some, like Waldorf Astoria and Montage International, are partnering with car brands systemwide, while other hotel companies, like Marriott, leave it up to individual hotels to forge partnerships. Four Seasons takes the latter approach as well, although a quartet of its properties in North America, dubbed the Mountain Collection, have joined together to work with Mercedes-Benz.
According to Meredith Macfarlane, general manager of the Four Seasons Vail, her property, along with Four Seasons in Whistler, Santa Fe and Jackson Hole work together “on promotions and marketing programs for their like-minded guests.” These properties also “share synergies” with Mercedes aficionados.
Macfarlane said, Mercedes approached Four Seasons Whistler about a partnership 10 years ago, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“The reason the partnership suits the Mountain Collection so well is the type of vehicles Mercedes is known for. Its SUVs are ideal for transporting people and their ski gear to the slopes,” she said.
Aside from providing SUVs for ski shuttles, the brand also offers loaner cars that allow guests to experience new models while taking mini-road trips. Mercedes owners, meantime, get access to special Four Seasons perks, like upgrade and special amenities.
Hotel companies that collaborate brand-wide with car companies offer similar benefits for guests and luxury automobile owners…and more.
In December, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts announced a new global partnership with Aston Martin Lagonda. The two brands are committed to a four-year marriage. Starting this year, Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience weekends in select locations, will present hotel guests with Aston Martin’s latest models to sample along tailored routes. The hotel brand is also becoming the official hotel partner for Aston Martin Racing, and as such, will offer guests VIP hospitality at automobile shows and international races, including Le Mans in France.
Dino Michael, global head of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, said that the collaboration is part of the brand’s strategy of aligning with like-minded, best-in-class brands to benefit the guest experience.
”From my perspective, it’s simple. We do a handful of things very, very well. But we’re not a fashion brand, we don’t make cars. By partnering with those that do in their respective fields that best, we can the marry the spirit and ethos of that brand with ours,” he said.
Marek Reichman, executive vice president and chief creative officer for Aston Martin Lagonda, said teaming with Waldorf Astoria makes sense due to the commonalities the brands share.
“Luxury heritage is really important,” he said. “It’s hard to be a luxury player without a signature from the past. Waldorf Astoria has that iconic reputation.” Plus, the partnership brings together two brands that are “quiet and unassuming, understated, not brash and bold, not Ferrari bright red. In collaborating with Waldorf, we are working with a brand with similar values and respect for the past.”
Meanwhile, Montage International, parent of Montage Hotels & Resorts and Pendry Hotels. has an exclusive partnership with Cadillac, which started last year. It uses Cadillac cars to provide complimentary chauffeured transportation, while there are also opportunities for guests to take the wheel through Ride & Drive programs. The partnership allows guests to test out a range of Cadillac’s newest vehicles.
At first glance, a partnership between the sexy Montage brand and the traditionally stodgy Cadillac label may seem counterintuitive. But Chris Hamaway, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Montage, said the pairing makes a great deal of sense.
“We are both brands based in the United States,” he said. “So, we liked the American luxury car piece.”
Additionally, Cadillac is no longer your grandfather’s luxury car brand. “There is a cool Cadillac comeback story,” said Hamaway. “We think they make extraordinary cars. It’s just a matter of getting people to see and try them.”
Indeed, the test drive aspect is a very appealing to car companies. According to Cadillac global chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl, “Bringing two world-class brands together to create unique driving opportunities at some of the country’s most beautiful destinations puts our brand in front of an ideal potential customer segment.”