Luxury travel is one of the most lucrative segments for hotels, but today success depends on offering highly personalized and promotable experiences. A talented PR agency can collaborate with you to create over-the-top journeys that will garner significant media coverage to generate bookings. Does it really matter if no one books the offer if your reservation lines start ringing?
Monitoring the emerging trends worldwide to best position your fabulous offerings should be part of the process. So make sure you get a hold of The Robb Report and Celebrated Living, both of which feature trips-of-a-lifetime. Keep track of what’s hot and build your fabulous offerings on that. You will find the tips in the following.
Highlights of trends to keep in mind:
1. What is the most significant luxury travel trend of 2017?
The growing affluent market is looking to expand their horizons. What buzzwords catch their fancy in press releases? Authentic and epic. Constantly on the lookout for new places, the luxury traveler is devouring such magazines as Outdoors and Travel and Leisure both in print and online, along with their regular diet of The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. And they thirst for information on new hotels opening and spa offerings that are indigenous.
Even in the private jet sector, travelers are choosing not to repeat the same routes – unless it includes something truly off the beaten track. Customers are actively seeking out new and different places all the time and a top boutique New York City public relations agency can get you exposure to appeal to their new instincts. And since the seatback of those planes contains such periodicals as Elite Traveler and Celebrated Living, which is in the first and business class of American Airlines.
2. What is changing in the family travel?
Extravagant adventure, top almost every family’s bucket list nowadays. This is what you have to bear in mind when creating packages to get press coverage. The high-net-worth market is heli-skiing in Iceland and paddle boarding in Galapagos. Of course, jungle ruins are still a draw as they imagine a life thousands of years ago. But make sure you can offer the best guide around.
Bragging rights for the parents and their offspring about where they have been and what they’ve done is part of the scene. But figure on big families, lots of adult children and their off-spring: these are big groups to accommodate but worth every penny because when it comes to food and beverage, they are extravagant.
A few bottles of 100-year-old Moet & Chandon Charles & Diana 1961 at $4,500 are not out of the question – and that is before dinner even gets going. Be prepared: the next morning they will be up for lots of zip lining and trekking.
3. What is the biggest myth about luxury travel consumers?
Price still drives decision making for he luxury traveler – everyone likes a good deal, even the rich. Type-A personalities and entrepreneurs avoid anything that smacks of price gauging; they just don’t want to be taken advantage of. Offer high value – that is what the traveling public is seeking today. And while women have traditionally led the way in choosing where to vacation, men are increasingly saying to their wives, “Let’s book at that hotel I read about in The Wall Street Journal.”
4. How can hotel managers and travel operators looking to break into this segment?
It is all about customizing and personalizing the client’s experience. “Curating is the word of the day.” It is way beyond the wedding planner. Put a clever name on your excursions specialist and peddle it to the press. You have to reassure customers with confidence that what you have planned for them has never been done before – or few, have anyhow. And if you tell them to be on the dock for a dive at 8 a.m., they will be there, so you better be ready.
You should know from experience what whets the appetite of your guests. Maybe they skip the Louvre and head over to the captivating Rodin Museum instead. Travel planners at your hotel need to have a broad range and depth of knowledge to fulfill all these needs.
5. High-end without the pre-tense
When luxury travelers are looking to get away, many want an environment where they can totally relax. In the Caribbean, that might mean “barefoot luxury.” In Thailand, that might be a villa with total privacy. In a boutique hotel in Paris, that can mean simple bistro dining at a nearby café.
What are some of the hotel and destinations whose offerings speak to the high-end luxury traveler?
6. Which destinations should you monitor for inspiration?
Traditionally, it’s those following The Rough Guide that pioneered destinations, and luxury followed. And the digital environment of Conde Nast Traveler is the place you want exposure if you are pioneering a new destination. While the trend continues to be the case with many countries such as Costa Rica, there are new places where luxury is coming in first and fast like Nicaragua.
The same applies to Vietnam and Bali – so while Singapore and Hong Kong remain key for the luxury traveler, they are looking to explore beyond these stops that are often on a first trip to Asia. Each destination mentioned has a number of world-class resorts and charming boutique hotels that have opened up recently. Nicaragua opened a new private jet airport catering the high-end segment of the market. It’s like Costa Rica was several years ago.
What are some examples of offerings that speak to the high-end luxury guest?
1. Awasi, Patagonia — Far from the maddening crowd
Awasi, surrounded by pastures, forests, mountains and lakes, is every painter’s dream on canvas. It is ideal for those seeking a true getaway unlike anything they’ve experienced in the past. In this secluded hideaway, far from the maddening crowd of the hustle bustle of city life is a private hideaway of twelve highly secluded luxury villas. All have a view of Torrs Le National Park, Lake Sarmiento, the pampas and the forest.
If travelers are looking to be enveloped by the abundance of nature and the changing seasons high in the hills of Patagonia, then this is the place for you. Guests return again and again, seeking time to explore the countryside in a four by four vehicle. Offer a family its own personal guide, or provide them with info to take a self-guided tour exploring the countryside.
Back at the hotel, offer a comfy chairs or sofa where they can relax in the silence that abounds. We all seek a need for peace and quiet – this getaway will afford that.
2. Kabas Tamadot, Morocco – The dreamchild of Richard Branson
Over-the-top Barber tents offer views of the stunning Atlas mountains, from “Soft Breeze,” as this getaway is called, is the dream child of Richard Branson, and is just fifty miles from Marrakesh. Cosmopolitan décor coupled with artifacts from all over the world, create an experience totally removed and peaceful time for family and friends. Spa treatments, an essential these days, prepare them for their explorations the next day.
3. Six Senses, Duroro Valley, Portugal – The lap of luxury
Few places in Europe can compete with the magical quality of this region, replete with vineyards, rolling hills, and a mighty river below. The experience you will surely the lift the soul arriving guests find the journey transporting, as they enter this Uber luxe hotel and gaze over the gently rolling hillsides. In case you are unaware, Six Senses is based on the concept of adults only. A place and time to reignite the love between you loved one, which the experiences offered here provide.
4. Passport to 50 with DreamMaker
The Passport to 50 trips from experiential travel boutique DreamMaker has been designed for its ultra-high net worth clientele and consists of a trip around the globe aboard a privately outfitted Boeing 767. Taking in 20 cities in 20 days, the client must have to part with a whopping $13,875,000 for an experience of a lifetime with up to 49 friends and family. Flying in tandem will be a second Boeing business Jet and highlights in the air include a $500,000 charity poker tournament with the world’s top-ranked poker player, a fashion show and in-flight yoga, and there will even be a Master Sommelier.
Only 12 per cent of the time is spent airborne, leaving 88 per cent on the ground to explore the likes of Koh Samui, Siem Reap, Kathmandu, Agra, Florence, Cannes, London, Marrakech, Havana, Las Vegas, Kailua-Kona and Manila. The trip’s most luxurious amenity is a set of 18-karat gold swizzle sticks set with white and blue diamonds worth a total of $1 million. Other extravagant highlights include a $500,000 charity poker tournament in the air with the world’s top-ranked poker player and, on land, the blessing of 50 monks’ amidst an inundation of 50,000 lotus petals.
5. Five-star family fun in France with Oetker
If you don’t have $1 million for a family holiday in France in the summer, how about a more modest $400,000 family holiday for the summer, including renting a villa for eight with all the trimmings? This winter, Oetker offered an eight-day getaway that included helicopters, attending movie shoots, and lessons for the whole family with an ex-ski champion.
Also included were a stay at Le Bristol Hotel, where Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was filmed and the younger members of the family got their own opportunity to star in a film version of the renowned movie. The six adult group included visiting the Musee des Arts Forains in a vintage car.
Also included in the sticker price was a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to a ball, a private patisserie class, and a show of the childrenswear Tartine & Chocolat were highlights for the group. (Luckily, the parents left their children home with the nanny or the cost would have been significantly more!) Of course, dinners at Michelin star restaurants were part of the itinerary.
6. Around the world in 50 days with great rail journeys
There is something about traveling by train that puts you in the frame of mind to truly relish the experience. No wonder the Orient Express trips have been so popular with the wealthy. This trip, at $25,000 per person, features taking in the famed Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, and on to San Francisco for a tour and an evening dinner cruise.
Then a trans-Pacific flight to Hong Kong offers the chance to travel by train from China, where Shanghai is incorporated into the trip, to Beijing, where guests take in the Great Wall of China, and Xian for the stunning Terracotta Warriors. From there, guests board the iconic Tsar’s Gold Train into Mongolia for an incredible journey across Russia. Then from Moscow, they fly to Venice to board the seminal Orient-Express back to London. This caps off one of the most memorable and stimulating journeys around the world.
7. A cruise for $1 million dollars?
Yes it is possible; especially when it is a 63-night trip that includes overnight stays in Auckland, Sydney, Bali, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Hong Kong. In November, these over-the-top excursions from Cruise 118 include seven different private jet flights. For accommodations, of course it is the Royal or Penthouse Suite with their 360-degree views.
This three-cruise holiday also features voyages on board several different Celebrity Cruise ships, the Solstice, Constellation and Millennium. Naturally 24/7 butler service is included, unlimited dining, a separate living area with a grand piano, and a private veranda with whirlpool and lounge seating area. Chauffeur driven transfers of naturally part of this itinerary as well as exclusive, once in a lifetime immersive tours.
What to do next?
The key to all this is engaging with a creative team at a boutique PR firm which has social media capabilities to publicize your offerings and stays. That way you’ll reel in this curious and adventurous customer by getting media coverage in A list outlets.
By Lorraine Abelow
Lorraine has had a 30-year, award-winning, boutique travel PR firm in New York City and is at the forefront of trends affecting traditional and digital media. Her firm has represented such blue-chip names as Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels, as well as boutique properties across the globe and island destinations including St Barth’s and Necker. The agency’s affordable hotel PR campaigns are designed to move the needle regularly gaining eye-catching feature exposure in such top outlets as The New York Times, Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. It’s the long-standing relationships the Abelow PR team has with high-level editors that insures coverage in A list media in every campaign. Coverage in influential blogs and social media campaigns round out Abelow PR’s expertise. Lorraine serves as an honorary judge for the Hotels Sales and Marketing International Associatio, from which she has won awards for her outstanding achievement over her illustrious career. For more information about this boutique New York City PR firm visit www.AbelowPR.com. You can contact her at Lorraine@AbelowPR.com or 203-226-9247.