Smith Travel Research reports that 2010 saw an unprecedented rebound in the global luxury hotel segment and since then, nearly every global region has seen significant growth. This rebound continued in 2011.
The affluent seek out companies and brands that can simplify and improve their lives, the company says. In the travel sector, this translates into increased expectations around personalisation cutting across all touch points – including digital media platforms – as luxury travellers research, purchase, engage in and reflect upon their travel experiences.
According to Four Seasons Hotels' latest Luxury Trend Report, luxury consumers embrace digital media on a larger scale than other travellers and luxury travel brands that do not commit to a holistic digital media strategy will not survive. It is therefore no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but an essential pillar of branding and marketing.
For the development of its new website, Four Seasons held focus groups globally to better understand guest and travel partner needs. This insight informed the content of the inaugural issue of the 2012 Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report.
"With nearly 90 properties in 35 countries and more than 50 years in the luxury travel industry, Four Seasons is able to share unique insights into the habits of an important consumer segment," says Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President - Marketing.
"The inaugural Luxury Trend Report highlights what we have learned about guest expectations in terms of high-tech balanced with high-touch, how they use social media to engage with brands, and other valuable information."
The Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report affirms that luxury consumers are not only embracing, but engaging with new technologies in ways that are changing the face of travel. Some of the insights from the report include:
Luxury is back
2011 was the year of luxury's rebound. Almost all regions saw at least six percent year-over-year growth in the luxury travel sector – a key indicator of luxury in general. This surge is projected to continue; industry experts project 10 percent growth in luxury overall in 2013.
Branding moves to the social sphere
78 per cent of the affluent participate in social networking sites, with more than half using social media to connect with a brand. Four Seasons brings digital media to the forefront of marketing efforts to suit the ways guests communicate.
E-commerce is king
The luxury consumer is increasingly going online to research and make purchases. Four Seasons online bookings rose 10 per cent from 2010 to 2011.
The rise of the iPad
One third of wealthy consumers own a tablet or e-Reader. Four Seasons revenue generated from the iPad and other tablets has grown 200 per cent from 2010 to 2011. This number is predicted to grow significantly in 2012.
Susan Helstab summarises:
“The challenge that comes with digital innovations is deciding which to leverage, and how to leverage them. Instead of launching one-off initiatives, the most successful luxury brands are developing digital media programmes that are holistic, integrated and strategic.
"‘Going digital’ really means authentically interacting with an audience through all of the platforms that make sense, in order to reach the luxury consumer in a way that is seamless, intuitive and enhances brand identity.
“One thing’s for sure, luxury brands that do not commit to a holistic digital media strategy will perish. It is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but an essential pillar of branding and marketing. Consumers are giving their time, trust, reputation and money to luxury brands.
"They should receive more than simply the product or service they buy in return. Digital media has the intrinsic power – today and 20 years from now – to deliver on that promise.”
What this means for your business
Consider what steps you need to take to develop a holistic digital media strategy, allowing technology and social media to integrate seamlessly into your marketing and operational activity.