Luxury Travel Confronts a Widening Identity Crisis

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Luxury hospitality is no longer defined by marble bathrooms and turndown service. To compete and appeal to today’s luxury guest, hotels have to be a lot smarter and more thoughtful than ever before.
— Deanna Ting

Whether or not the luxury travel industry is willing to admit it, the sector finds itself at a pivotal crossroads.

The traditional mainstays of luxury hospitality are no longer as valued as they once were, and a new way of thinking about it has emerged, making it harder than ever to know what luxury really is, and how to deliver it to guests.”I think the luxury segment is facing some really unprecedented challenges,” said Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the NYU Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.

Hanson pointed to the diminished role of concierges and turndown service as examples of how much luxury has changed.

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“What’s happened to concierges? Does a 28-year-old want to rely on a concierge to tell him what he’d like for dinner tonight?” Hanson asked. “With social media and other forms of gathering information and using something like Yelp, younger travelers are looking for things with social media awareness.

“The selection process is different from going to a hotel where you traditionally have an older gentleman concierge and you’re getting his view on what’s a great place to go. The concierge has changed in what it does; now it’s more about making a reservation if there’s an availability issue. The value of a concierge is not what it once was to many travelers.”

Then there’s turndown service, which is colliding with privacy concerns, he said.

“As it becomes optional for more guests, it’s less expensive for hotels to offer. But we’ve eliminated another one of those distinctions that define a luxury hotel. Many of the things and services that were highly valued at luxury hotels before are just not as needed anymore. We keep taking away what defines luxury.”

It’s becoming tougher for luxury hoteliers to deliver a clear value proposition to guests — a reason to choose to stay in their hotels over an upper upscale, upscale, or a limited-service hotel, or even an Airbnb. So, what can they do to compete, and how are they choosing to define what “new luxury” means?

Skift spoke to hotel executives at the International Luxury Travel Market last month in Cannes, France to ask how they are defining luxury, and their responses are as varied as their respective hotels’ approaches.

The Curious Traveler

“I think of today’s luxury traveler as a curious traveler,” said Marc Dardenne, interim CEO of Jumeirah Group. “Before we wanted consistency in luxury but now we want to be enriched in cultural experiences and learning, and having engagement.”

To that end, Dardenne said Jumeirah is considering debuting luxury tented camps in the desert or in Africa to appeal to guests who want more adventure or an opportunity to learn from their travels.

Next year, Capella Hotel Group is opening its own luxury tented camp in Ubud, Bali, and CEO Nicholas Clayton said he and his team are aware luxury will always be defined, in some way, by price and the fact that not all luxury can satisfy every guest.

“Luxury is an overdone word and I hate to use it but prices will always be consistent with that exclusivity,” Clayton said. “It’s OK that we’re not everyone’s cup of tea. There will always be more exclusive products and higher price points, but how it appeals to people and what appeals to people is changing. They understand quality and standards but they also want some degree of surprise.”

Both Dardenne and Clayton said they are incorporating more wellness into the guest experience, and Clayton acknowledged the importance of “rich programming for things people want to do both on and off a property.”

Wellness and Balance

Neil Jacobs, CEO of Six Senses Hotels, said hoteliers who are just now realizing the significance of wellness in the guest experience aren’t knowledgeable enough to deliver the kinds of wellness experiences guests need.

Jacobs said that, like definitions for luxury, the definitions for wellness are just as varied. “Wellness and luxury are really about both wellness and wellbeing. It encompasses all of it,” he said. While he believes wellness is an integral part of what defines new luxury, he said “sustainability” is also important, as is a sense of community.

“People want to be with people,” Jacobs said. “Dr. Oz said that loneliness contributes to ill health and that’s why creating community is so important. We want to provide experiences and content for building memories, for things that touch your heart.”

Expanding Experiences for Cultural Currency

One company that made sizable investments in wellness in 2017 was Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, which purchased Miraval and Exhale. Tristan Dowell, vice president of global luxury, lifestyle, and leisure for the Hyatt Sales Force said that today’s “high-net-worth travelers want experiences beyond what a traditional hotel company can offer.”

“We know the wellness market as a whole is a trillion-dollar business and people are more focused on well-being and mindfulness,” Dowell said. “There’s a perfect synergy with Miraval, and it’s providing wellness options across all of our brands. It lets us think about what we can further offer in terms of wellness experiences within all of our brands. We also plan on bringing well-being experiences from Exhale into all of our brands, too.”

Hyatt’s investment in Oasis, an alternative accommodations platform, was equally driven by a desire to give its guests more choices in the experiences they can have when they travel. Dowell said, “Oasis will be carefully incorporated into our Unbound Collection by Hyatt, and will offer experiences for World of Hyatt members.”

This type of direct investment into the sharing economy is one that few major hotel companies, with the exception of AccorHotels, have made. But Hyatt and AccorHotels’ forays into the luxury and upscale home sharing space shows they acknowledge the growing popularity of private homes, villas, and luxury apartments for luxury travelers.

“Our competitors have different priorities, and we’re very focused on listening to what customers are asking for, and that includes alternative accommodations,” Dowell said. “Our core business has always been our brands, but we’re always keen to explore opportunities that expand our offerings.”

Those expanded offerings play a big role in Hyatt’s new World of Hyatt loyalty program, which debuted in March 2017. “World of Hyatt is aligned to experiences and what customers wanted,” Dowell said. “While the term ‘experiences’ has been used for a number of years, we are finding that what travelers really want is knowledge, to learn; they have a hunger for learning new cultures and experiences that can be passed on. It’s about cultural currency.”

Real-World Experiences With Purpose

Tina Edmundson, the global brand officer of luxury and lifestyle brands for Marriott International, sees today’s luxury traveler as more socially and consciously aware of his and her impact than previous generations, and like Dowell, she believes they crave more culturally enriching experiences.

“The new school of wealthy is economically powerful but also aware of how their consumption affects others.” She said. “They are craving real-world experiences and for them, luxury is about quality, comfort, and elegance.”

Chinmai Sharma, chief revenue officer of Taj Hotels Resorts Palaces and Safaris, said he’s also seen a rising consciousness among luxury travelers. “Luxury means different things to different people. It’s about maximizing the value that they have,” he said. “We’ve been in the luxury market for a long time and we’re looking at food and beverage, the local aspect, CSR (enriching lives of communities), safari lodges, employment for local communities, etc. We’re trying to be more responsible. There’s a larger purpose to luxury today.”

Edmundson added that the three things, or “macro trends,” defining luxury today are “self-actualization, wellness/well-being, and high-tech.” Edmundson said, “Bucket lists are evolving from where you want to go and who you want to see what you want to be. Access has become the new authentic.”

High-Tech to Complement High-Touch

Edmundson also said that technology’s role in defining today’s luxury guest experience shouldn’t be discounted.

“When you say that technology shouldn’t overtake human experience, you’re saying something that doesn’t make sense to today’s consumer,” she said.

Jumeirah’s Dardenne said his group is looking at ways to leverage technology to elevate the guest experience and develop more personalization.

At Hilton, John T.A. Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands, said “I think the new luxury is really being defined by something we like to call ‘smart luxury.’” He pointed to the Conrad brand as being tech-forward and efficient, without sacrificing high-touch service.

Grace Bay Resorts COO Nikheel Advani said that while technology is important, the truth is that the one thing that will keep luxury distinct is service. “Luxury will always be about relationships,” Advani said. “TVs, marble, etc. will always be mainstays but we don’t compete on those. Experiences will always be important; you go back because of the way people made you feel.”

Debra Dhugga, managing director of the Dukes Collection, echoed Advani’s sentiments. “Lifestyles at home today are so high that it’s hard for hotels to keep up sometimes. But at the end of the day, luxury is really about being catered for so you don’t have to think of anything and you never have to ask for anything.”

The Future of Luxury

Although luxury travel is facing some challenges, as Hanson noted, the hoteliers with whom we spoke are hopeful about its future.

Hilton’s Vanderslice said, “We all knew that luxury would come back after the recession in 2008. It’s remarkable that the growth of luxury has been so strong, but it’s because people primarily want to reward and participate themselves with luxury.”

And as long as they do that, there will always be room for luxury experiences, even as they evolve and that’s a continual process that the luxury hospitality industry is not only responding to but driving in some ways.

“For us, this idea that people are looking for authentic, more genuine experiences translates into many directions,” said Christian H. Clerc, president of worldwide hotel operations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

“It really shapes the way we develop a product, design, and the way that we use technology. We look not only at what’s happening within our hotel space, but I am inspired by what’s happening in the luxury space in general. These trends aren’t limited to the hospitality industry. What we are trying to do is help people live their lives today and travel the world, and their desires are very similar in terms of what they are looking for, not only in the hotel space but also in their lifestyles, and we are inspired by that.”

Photo Credit: A suite at the Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht. Today's luxury hotel experiences have evolved greatly from traditional concepts of luxury. Hyatt Hotels and Resorts


7 Ways to Prevent Survivorship Bias from Hurting Your Hotel’s Revenue:

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1. Stop Copying Successful Hotels

It’s easy to look at successful hotels and think their strategy can be replicated in your market. But also take time to consider the other properties that failed in that same location, especially within the same chain scale level. Find out what went wrong, instead of only focusing on what went right for the survivors.

2. Conduct Loss Analysis on Failed Group Business Bids

Hotels often focus their sales efforts on seeking repeat business from specific groups, their “best customers.” Then, they proudly proclaim their venue is a ‘favorite’ of medical meeting planners, for example. Or, that their business is made up of mostly annual tech conferences. Instead, ask why other groups haven’t booked your hotel? What other industries are you missing out on?

Whenever you lose a piece of group business, the sales person needs to ask the meeting planner, “What went wrong? Why didn’t our hotel win your event?” This simple move could dramatically alter your sales efforts, sending your sales numbers skyrocketing in the future.

3. Discover Which Companies are Visiting Your Hotel Site

You can find out if meeting planners are visiting your website, even if they don’t send a message or fill out an RFP. We at Tambourine (and many other firms) have the ability to identify inbound website visitors by company, enabling our clients’ sales teams to find out which companies are visiting your meetings and event pages. For example, you can find out if someone from Ford or Microsoft started clicking around on your site.

This now-warm lead can act like a trigger for the sales person on your team (in this case, the sales person who is in charge of the Pacific Northwest market since Microsoft is headquartered near Seattle) to reach out to the meeting planning department at that company.

4. Conduct User Testing

Don’t fall in the trap of assuming what customers think about your hotel website. The only way to know how potential guests are interacting with your website and booking engine is to engage random, unbiased users to test it. (Shameless Plug: As part of our hotel marketing services, we implement random user testing for clients, and even provide videotape footage of tester’s live feedback.)

5. Monitor Points of Abandonment

Use your analytics to find out where you start losing potential guests on your website. Do you lose them right on the homepage? Or, when they encounter inconsistency moving from your website to the booking engine? Fixing whatever the problem is means you’re helping more visitors ‘survive’ the purchase journey to book a room.

6. Add More Languages

Your hotel is a global product. Or, at least it could be if you allowed your website to ‘speak’ to global audiences. Right now, too many American hotels only use English on their website. So, what if a family from Spain wanted to book a stay? Or, a group of business people from Dubai? You may think your hotel only attracts American travelers (or that virtually everyone speaks English), but that is survivorship bias at work… you only see English-speaking guests! If your website is only written in English, then only English-speaking travelers book your hotel, which leads you to assume that only English speakers want to stay with you. Consider what adding other language translations could do to attract global travelers.

7. Don’t Put Your Marketing on Repeat

It may seem like a smart strategy to repeat what worked for you last year, but again, this is survivorship bias at work. It’s even smarter to figure out why certain marketing tactics and campaigns failed. Did you have enough resources? Did the campaigns have enough time to flourish? Or, did you back down and just grab the lowest hanging fruit (relying on OTAs)?

It’s vital to know about ALL of your hotel’s online visitors and potential customers – not just those who successfully booked. This gives you more insight into how potential guests and group business clients engage with your hotel in their research phase. Plus, it will help you identify what to fix and where to make improvements. Examining your losses and avoiding survivorship bias can be the pivotal move that will lead to quicker buying cycles and higher conversion rates.

Conciliare lavoro e famiglia nelle PMI, è fattibile e redditizio!

Conciliare lavoro e famiglia nelle PMI, è fattibile e redditizio!

Conciliare lavoro e famiglia nelle PMI, è fattibile e redditizio

Trovare un equilibrio tra vita professionale e familiare: è il sogno di tutti gli impiegati. Una realtà possibile nelle PMI. La chiave sta nel miglioramento dell’ambiente di lavoro, della produttività e della loro attrattività, grazie a misure poco onerose.

Three Ways Hotel Marketers Can Tap Into The Authenticity Trend

September 18, 2014 • By Joe Haydn

It happens every day.

Bill and Britney, a couple in their 20s, decide to take their first vacation together. Britney opens her laptop and starts searching while Bill takes to his tablet to see what he can find.

Forget Mickey Mouse ears and mini-Eiffel Tower key chains, they plan to return home with a new understanding and appreciation of life!

Instead of going back to places they’ve already been… they seek unique, authentic new experiences. They want pictures for their Facebook accounts. They want real interaction with local culture. Forget Mickey Mouse ears and mini-Eiffel Tower key chains, they plan to return home with a new understanding and appreciation of life!

And they’re not alone. While the millennial generation seems to be driving the experience trend, it has also swept up the older, more affluent segments of the population as well.

According to a study commissioned by American Express last year, 72% of respondents said they choose to spend money on experience over things. While an impressive study from Resonance Consulting stated it eloquently: “…. experience is the thing and stories are clearly winning over stuff…. That’s good news for highly differentiated destinations and experience purveyors and curators of many kinds.”

As a hotel marketer, you must ask yourself if your marketing truly grabs the attention of the experience-craving traveler? If not, we have some tips to help you create traction with this key market dynamic:

1. Take Inventory of the Unique Experiences All Around You

Your first instinct may be to lament the vast distance between your hotel and any famous landmark, but don’t. This can actually work to your advantage. Remember, Bill and Britney want a unique, authentic experience. Everyone goes to the Grand Canyon. But your region has quirky events they’ve never heard of (we’re looking at you Gilroy Garlic Festival)!

Start by making a list. Think of the off-the-beaten path places you and your staff take out of town guests. What do you recommend guests do? Are there food or bike tours in your area? An oddball museum? Unexpected historic landmarks?

2. Integrate with Your Local Community

Are you taking advantage of the experience seeking market?

Now that you have some ideas, it is time to go out and make them work for you. Partner with local tour guides and ambassadors for cross-promotional deals. Create packages around your areas unique experiences. Showcase your regional ambassadors doing what they love. Let Bill and Britney know you understand what they want out of their vacation.

One hotel in Berlin actually includes a unique local experience with every stay… enabling guests to choose (at time of booking) whether they want a guide to take them to the museum or a local foodie to accompany them on a street food sampling tour.

3. Celebrate Past Guest Experiences on Social Media

Travel consumers are heavily influenced by “social proof” (this is why TripAdvisor is so popular). By sharing past guest stories, reviews (and best of all videos) on their hotel’s social media channels, you can turn your past guests into a perpetual army of experience evangelists.

Leverage their good times.

Some innovative hoteliers have taken this tactic even further by installing “social hot spots” at various scenic locations on property. The hot spots are carefully choreographed vistas that highlight the uniqueness of the property and encourage guests to upload their photos “on the spot” to Facebook or Instagram. Here’s an example of how they did this in Toronto with great results!

Are you taking advantage of the experience seeking market?

The Ritz-Carlton has enhanced its Ritz Kids Program

The Ritz-Carlton has enhanced its Ritz Kids Program

The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of Asia Pacific have rolled out an inspiring new campside adventure, as part of an enhanced Ritz Kids program.

Ritz Kids is the first globally consistent, immersive programming from a hotel company to build on the adventures of travel for children. Designed to draw on a child’s passion for the curious, the program has a tailored approach to creating memories for children visiting a resort, city or urban property. The robustly layered activities foster learning centered around four key pillars – water, land, environmental responsibility and culture.

Hoteliers should only be paying for that OTA customer ONCE!

Hoteliers should only be paying for that OTA customer ONCE!

It’s time to embrace OTAs as a channel that gets new business in the door. But once that OTA guest checks in, it’s now up to you and your staff to make an extraordinary impression on them to keep them loyal from that stay forward.

Top Chinese social media networks for hotel marketing

Top Chinese social media networks for hotel marketing

One of the largest and fastest growing travel markets in the world, China presents a unique opportunity for hotels. With more than 100 million Chinese traveling abroad every year, the market has become the single biggest source of global tourism income. According to GfK, international Chinese tourists spent close to $230 billion in 2015, and this number is expected to grow as the middle class in China continues to grow.

Tapping into this market successfully, however, requires a separate digital marketing strategy. Although China has the largest base of social media users worldwide, its unique government-run Internet means that traditional means of marketing won’t work for the 300 million Chinese people online. In China, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are blocked, as well as sites like Google and YouTube.

In lieu of these sites, the Chinese have built their own robust social media networks populated by hundreds of millions of users. Hotel marketers that want to better appeal to the Chinese market should have a strong understanding of these Chinese social networks, their demographics, and how they function in order to build targeted marketing campaigns for these consumers.

MICE Trends for 2016

MICE Trends for 2016

MICE Trends for 2016

When it comes to travel marketing the travel industry in general, we often think of leisure first and foremost. Yet business travel is a key component and major driver in the hospitality sphere, in particular when it comes to MICE – Meetings, Incentive, Conferences and Exhibitions. Understanding expectations, what’s new and how to attract most effectively travelers that fall under that category can contribute to a sustainable competitive advantage for destinations and active travel brands in this realm.



Votre clientèle d’affaires a tendance à prolonger son séjour pour s’adonner à des activités d’agrément? Proposez-lui des forfaits personnalisés, offrez-lui des rabais ou encore repensez votre positionnement marketing.

Par des statistiques, des exemples de bonnes pratiques et des conseils d’expert, cette analyse exposera :

  •  le comportement des voyageurs de type bleisure;
  •  la manière de s’adresser à eux;
  •  le type d’offres à commercialiser.


Dans l’hôtellerie, on assiste à l’allongement des séjours professionnels à titre personnel et on constate l’intérêt grandissant des voyageurs d’affaires pour les activités d’agrément. D’après un sondage de BridgeStreet Global Hospitality effectué auprès de 640 voyageurs internationaux en 2014, 60 % des répondants ont déjà réalisé des voyages de type bleisure, et près de 46 % d’entre eux prolongent la plupart de leurs séjours d’affaires de quelques jours à cette fin. Voici quelques faits saillants du sondage :

  • La principale raison émise par les clients pour allonger le séjour est la volonté de découvrir la destination et de vivre des expériences culturelles.
  • La quasi-totalité (94 %) des jeunes voyageurs (18 à 35 ans) prévoit faire autant ou plus de voyages de type bleisure dans les cinq prochaines années, comparativement à 88 % pour la moyenne des voyageurs.
  • Un peu plus de la moitié (54 %) des répondants ayant réalisé ce type de voyage étaient accompagnés par des membres de leur famille.
  • Près de 83 % des voyageurs d’affaires consacrent du temps à visiter la ville. Les principales activités réalisées sont les visites touristiques (77 %), les repas au restaurant (66 %), les sorties culturelles ou artistiques (66 %) et les activités de plein air (34 %).
  • Peu de touristes de type bleisure visitent une autre ville durant leur séjour; 42 % le font rarement et 31 %, jamais.


Afin de cibler cette clientèle, des hôtels ont créé des forfaits alliant activités d’affaires et d’agrément. The Orchard Hotel à Singapour commercialise son forfait « Bleisure Experience » en mettant de l’avant ses installations comme sa piscine et son jacuzzi, et en invitant les voyageurs d’affaires à visiter la ville. L’offre inclut un bon d’achat de 60 dollars américains à utiliser dans un salon de beauté.


Source : Millennium Hotels

Pour sa part, Hotel G, situé à San Francisco, propose comme incitatif une promotion « Bleisure at the G », qui permet d’utiliser les transports en commun, d’accéder à un espace de travail partagé durant une journée et d’obtenir des rabais dans plusieurs attraits de la ville (centre commercial, restaurant, etc.). Pullman Hotels and Resorts, par l’entremise de son forfait « Time for Pleasure by Pullman », inclut entre autres des remises immédiates sur les services de l’hôtel.


Avec le slogan « Work Hard Play Hard », l’objectif de ce nouveau positionnement est d’enrichir l’expérience client en entremêlant l’univers du jeu avec celui du travail

Le forfait de Pullman Hotels and Resorts présenté ci-dessus fait partie de sa nouvelle image de marque entièrement développée pour cette clientèle. Avec le slogan « Work Hard Play Hard », l’objectif de ce nouveau positionnement est d’enrichir l’expérience client en entremêlant l’univers du jeu avec celui du travail.


Source : Pullman Hotels


Au Canada, les hôtels Days Inn ont créé le tarif « vacances d’affaires », qui permet d’économiser jusqu’à 15 % sur le meilleur tarif disponible. D’autres établissements offrent le tarif de groupe négocié quelques jours avant et après l’événement d’affaires, selon la disponibilité.

L’hôtel Ten Manchester Street à Londres relaye sa promotion sur les médias sociaux et cible de façon claire cette clientèle en lui conseillant d’ajouter quelques journées personnelles à son voyage d’affaires et en utilisant le mot-clic bleisure.


Source : Twitter

Bob Jacobs, vice-président pour la gestion de la marque des hôtels Sheraton et Westin de la région Amérique du Nord, explique que cette offre incitative représente la principale demande des groupes, particulièrement le segment de la génération Y.

L’agence de marketing Tambourine conseille d’offrir ces tarifs aux clients avant leur arrivée, mais aussi durant leur séjour, pour les encourager à prendre une décision spontanée. L’agence suggère aussi de proposer d’autres offres valides uniquement la fin de semaine, telle qu’une navette gratuite pour se rendre dans les attraits de la ville, ou encore des rabais sur le service à la chambre ou dans les restaurants.


Les hôtels positionnés principalement dans le segment affaires peuvent user de quelques tactiques pour attirer les familles de ses clients.

Les hôtels positionnés principalement dans le segment affaires peuvent user de quelques tactiques pour attirer les familles de ses clients. Ils peuvent notamment les aider à planifier leur séjour ou leur offrir des rabais pour des attractions familiales locales. C’est le cas des hôtels Sheraton et Westin de la région Amérique du Nord, qui envisagent de proposer davantage d’activités et de services aux membres accompagnateurs de la famille.

Great Wolf Lodge, une chaîne de centres de villégiature présente aux États-Unis et au Canada, évalue à 60 % la part des voyageurs d’affaires accompagnés par leur famille durant leurs événements d’entreprise. En Floride, les hôtels du complexe de loisirs Universal Orlando Resort, qui accueillent de nombreux congrès et réunions, offrent à la clientèle d’affaires des entrées à tarifs réduits dans les attractions, afin que celle-ci se joigne à leurs familles à la fin de la journée.

De profonds changements s’opèrent dans le comportement des voyageurs. La clientèle d’agrément travaille à distance et la clientèle d’affaires s’accorde du temps pour se détendre. Avez-vous commencé à cibler les voyageurs de type bleisure dans votre établissement?

Image à la une : © pexels


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