- MEANINGFULNESS, SIMPLICITY AND TRANSFORMATION – THE 3 BIG MACRO TRENDS IN 2017
- “Luxury consumers don’t want choice - they want what they want.”
Skift's custom research surveyed 1,350 luxury travellers to understand how their travel priorities have changed over the last 3-5 years. The #1 response shows a growing demand for "Experiences that show me a new perspective of the world," followed by "Trying new restaurants and culinary experiences" and "Exploring local neighborhoods to discover unique places."
The survey - which reports (Bain & Company) that the global luxury consumer market grew 4% in 2016 reaching an estimated US$1.06trillion - explores the many disruptions in luxury travel where ‘tired narratives’ about what luxury travellers want no longer suffice. The affect of both macro and micros stressors including world events, politics and environmental issues has created a growing demand for travel experiences that have created 3 new trends – mindfulness, simplicity and transformation. Joe Pine, author of The Experience Economy says, “Luxury consumers don’t want choice - they want what they want.”
Skift suggests that the greatest challenges and opportunities for the luxury hospitality sector in the coming years will come from the industry’s growing online/offline convergence with consumer demand for more mindful, simple and transformative travel experiences. According to the survey data, 54.3% of respondents ranked the importance of transformative travel experiences at least 7 out of 10 or higher. And 52.8% say the value of transformative travel for them has increased in the last 3-5 years.
Introducing the content, Skift defines the many faces of today’s luxury travel consumer and how the influence of online networks are widening the definition of luxury travel with the “experience one-upmanship” of sharing personal experiences driving many travellers to seek ever-more innovative travel.
The research shows that luxury travellers are now relying more on travel companies and travel advisors to guide their individual consumer travel, as well as travel brands that are also customising their products to match the individual consumer’s specific desires.
Adapting to the new normal in luxury travel is the key to building passionate brand following and lifetime customer value. “Brand love is a powerful thing, driving attitudinal loyalty versus transactional-based loyalty,” says Skift.
Hotels and hospitality groups are now redefining and re-creating their individual cultures and identities to align with specific customer psychographics more than ever before. “I think travel in itself is experiential, which is very important and I think it’s great for the whole industry,” says Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian. “But I think that the core fundamental reality – which is this draw toward humanity and authentic human engagement – is really the key big issue. I think staying focused around how you actually serve and be a part of that and engage with it, is really the key issue for our industry”.
The Skift report shows that when asked how travel activities have evolved in the last 3-5 years, over 60% of responders stated they are more interested in travel experiences that give them a new perspective on the world than previously.
Looking at the definitions of luxury, the report questions the value of the most over-used explanations – including ‘experiences’, ‘personalisation’ and ‘local’. “They are expected – so brand marketers should re-consider ‘bespoke immersive experiences,” continues Skift.
“High-end consumers are re-examining how they define value and purpose in an era where North America and Europe are growing more intolerant and divisive,” adds the report, “True and transparent meaning is equated with trust and believability – trust is the new currency in travel”.
At the same time, hotel marketers are focusing more on how they can achieve higher levels of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) by developing better data and content marketing strategies to target specific consumer profiles. “The fundamental reason for building consumer loyalty is the recognition that each customer represents not just a single sale, but potentially many sales over the course of his or her lifetime,” says Skift.
Data-driven, multichannel marketing is now key with brands looking to fashion and retail for inspiration to develop their own content strategies to communicate their brand culture. Similarities between the industry and travel abound from the powerful online content delivered by some of the world’s biggest luxury fashion brands, and their links with travel. Tina Edmundson, global brand office at Marriott says; “The fashion retailers that do this best are those that are locally relevant – something that’s a hit in New York may not work in Beijing – and this connects perfectly to the hotel industry. We can be at the cutting edge of the latest trends worldwide, and quickly identify and respond to the changing needs and demands of today’s luxury traveller.
Hotels are placing more emphasis on family travel as parents demand more active and immersive travel experiences and a return on time that shows their children “how lucky they are to travel and stay in luxury accommodations”. At the same time, Wellness is now mainstream in luxury hospitality. The 2016 American Express Travel survey shows 49% of millenials think onsite gyms are one of the most important hotel amenities – 85% of hotels now have fitness facilities compared to 63% in 2004.
The report also defines how data and intelligence will shape the industry explaining that there is a growing sense that things haven’t even started to get interesting yet. The most powerful machine learning platforms know everything about you and it is expected that the future will see personal Artificial Intelligence agents that make decisions for us. Everything will be scored and measured more so than today, potentially devaluing the role of marketing to influence purchase decisions.
“This new piece of research undertaken with our partner Skift was designed to look at the defining changes ahead for the business of luxury travel. The three big macro trends ahead are: meaningfulness, simplicity and transformation. They all relate to travellers’ psychographic drivers and emotional triggers. They can easily be explained into different contexts, cultures and age brackets, providing a new way to define luxury in a shifting travel landscape,” concludes Alison Gilmore, Director, ILTM Portfolio.
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To download a copy of the report, please go to: www.iltm.com/brandlove