Covid 19 had an enormous impact on luxury industries….
BH: The good news however is, that whilst hospitality is the first to fall in a crisis, it is also the first industry to come out- Luxury per se even more so, as albeit sales has been contracting, it is resilient. Patience and having a positive outlook is needed.
Travelling is an elementary human need, however, our collective experience of corona crisis will result in a new understanding of travelling with increased need for security and trust and travel with purpose. Travelers will make a more conscious selection towards authentic, culturally relevant and meaningful experiences at a destination when travelling for leisure.
What do luxury hoteliers need to be aware of?
BH: Crisis accelerates mega trends, look at those that aﬀect you.
Neo-ecology for example. The sustainability paradigm established a new set of values and re- programs the codes of society. Whilst the luxury traveler will still use planes -possibly their own, but to a lesser extend for longer stays- they will want to ensure that they leave a sustainable footprint when finally at a chosen destination.
Having said so, private aviation seems a contradiction to the trend, but it is reality- it is at an all time high and a direct response to scarcity and safety in the short term. I would argue that private jet and helicopters are a good thing especially for remote destinations.
Nevertheless, brands need start communicating information not only about their products, but also processes and lastly show evidence that they are environmentally and socially aware.
Luxury brands that combine economic interests and common good-oriented benefits will stay relevant to the consumer, as sustainability continues to evolve to a status symbol.
What are some ideas to be put into practice?
BH: Have a well-defined strategy with partners of social, economic, environmental, governmental/ NGO areas in place and have the cross functional leadership team own the strategy. Look at your daily operations, how many products are sourced locally, how many of your suppliers watch their carbon footprint, which cars are in your fleet, do you have programs in place to reduce waste, water and carbon emissions, do you oﬀer equal advancement opportunities, good working conditions, etc., etc.
Bring your strategy to life, train your associates and back your activities into your Marketing Comms strategy with photography, copy, experiences for guests, events, partnerships, ambassadors, influencers, etc.
Gone are the times of luxury in abundance?
BH: Luxury will most likely manifest at a quieter form as its perception thereof is changing. Abundance will disappear, as people have de-cluttered their minds and consume luxury for diﬀerent reasons.
Nevertheless, luxury will always be quality to our senses and there is nothing wrong in being picked up with an exclusive EV at the airport or hotel, receiving amenities with appropriate packaging, savoring locally sourced Caviar and Artisan Cheese and enjoying seasonal produce whenever possible. Additionally, activities around connecting with local communities, learning new skills, soul-uplifting and transformational travel are the new normal.
What other trends have accelerated?
BH: Connectivity and health as a fundamental value.
Is digitization not a threat to the traditional “high touch” luxury hospitality industry?
BH: The use of technology should be looked upon as a support to deliver even greater perceived guest experience post Covid19 and allows to re-allocate resources where the values of human beings are essential to build relationships.
Technology paves the way for hyper-personalization in the luxury industry.
Think of an immersive experience before arriving at the hotel via augmented reality, voice assistance and personal chat functions during the guest journey, face recognition for check in/ out and or paying for services, activation of smart phones as remote control, build very detailed guest profiles in your CRM, etc.
Some of these examples, allow us to develop a very intimate relationship with the customer, craft bespoke experiences that subsequently drive loyalty and can additionally be used as a vehicle to communicate purpose.
New ways of doing business take time and often involve major financial investments. Resources at hotels are currently limited. What can hoteliers do now?
With continued uncertainty about travel restrictions, risk of transmission and speed of vaccination, travelers will want to stay closer to their homes limiting human contacts by bypassing airport check-ins.
Domestic tourism by car and staycations have become buzzwords.
Luxury properties with an infrastructure of suites, private villas or residences may look at promoting these even stronger providing private in-villa dining, spa experiences and buy-outs, as travelers will look out for more space and privacy when travelling with family and friends.
Whereas domestic travel does very often not suffice to get to desired trading levels, use the time now to partner with organizations for putting in place your before-mentioned strategy, work on creating meaningful guest experiences post Covid19, train associates on protocols concerning commitment to care for health and safety and most importantly continue to communicate well through all channels.
Bettina Haeberle (LinkedIN) is a highly skilled and experienced marketing and communications professional, having held positions at Burgenstock Resort (Katara Hospitality Switzerland), InterContinental Hotels and Hyatt.
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