If you’re running a hotel and have a desire to transition into the luxury market, then, the key to attracting the right clientele is about getting into their psyche. With most marketing strategies the key would be to find/define your ideal client, tailor your offering to them and reach them through clever marketing messages, multiple times at every touch point. Not so different in the luxury market, you might think. But there are some subtle nuances that are crucial when attempting to appeal to high-net worth clientele. And the question this mainly boils down to is why high net worth clients select one hotel over another. Are luxury hotels an accommodation or lifestyle choice?
Here I uncover what I feel is the most important factor in that decision making process and attempt to answer the question of which is most important, accommodation or lifestyle choice.
ACCOMMODATION VS LIFESTYLE CHOICE – BEGINNING TO BUILD A LUXURY BRAND
In attracting luxury clientele, the first thing you must do is get your offering right. If you’ve been cruising mid-market for years, it’s time to close the doors and refurb. This is not just about changing the linens and the décor or adding a spa.
Closing the doors for a period is symbolic. People need to see an end point to the mediocrity. And, for your hotel to rise from the flames with a new offering. It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul if you’re party there, although that’s preferable. You do need to invest in the right places. Interior design, the very best. Quality materials. No corners cut.
Keep it secret, under wraps and be sure to get every element right, discerning clients have an eye for detail. Getting the accommodation is important, but it is only one strand to appealing to the luxury set. In answering the question of whether becoming a luxury hotel is about accommodation or lifestyle choice – the answer is both. The key is in a clever marketing strategy.
CHOOSE DISCRETION OVER WHO CAN SHOUT THE LOUDEST
Often when marketing to the masses, it’s whoever makes the most noise that wins. Those who are unique, clever, and savvy with their marketing can cash in on the quantity over quality model. It’s a numbers game, reach as many people as possible and persuade the largest percentage to choose you over the competitors.
If you’re lucky enough to have a celebrity visit (whether they’re A, B, C or even D list) the temptation is to announce it to the world that a well-known face is endorsing your brand. For a budget or mid-market brand, or of course those who have something unique and different to offer but still at an affordable price point, this is the right call. To attract the masses, you need to be bold. Sometimes brash. And there’s absolutely no shame in that.
In luxury marketing there are some subtle differences. People buy into a luxury hotel because of the way it makes them feel or look. Similar to why they would buy a Gucci handbag or some Louboutin shoes. They choose it because it has a five-star tag, luxury trappings and because the experience is right and because it is exclusive.
Marketing in this scenario, is done by creating an air of exclusivity. A rule of thumb is to never overpromote. A well-placed media article here (generally in the luxury lifestyle media) or a tantalising rumour there. You want to create the impression that you are above ‘tittle tattle’ and shameless promotion.
There are Michelin Star restaurants that have had tables sat empty night after night on their journey to distinction. The idea being to create the aura of the unobtainable. Nothing works better to attract the luxury set than to let them know they’re able to get a table where others could not.
And if a famous face does attend, resist the temptation to call the paparazzi. Be sure to keep discretion as a core value, focus on the experience and let your guests do the talking for you.
Even better, make human influencing part of your marketing strategy. Employ somebody (such as myself) who can work their little black book of contacts. Invite the right people and show them in person that this is the best hotel experience money can buy. It’s not a given that they will share their experience with friends of influence but if you pull out all the stops it’s highly likely – and you can be as bold as to ask them to spread the word if they enjoy their stay.
IDENTIFY YOUR EXTRA
The final strand to the ideal luxury hotel marketing strategy is to identify your ‘extra’.
What’s the thing that will make you stand out from the crowd and pull in those high spenders? It could be unique history if you’re a heritage venue. Find ways to tell your story with and weave it through the fabric of the building. A view to die for, maximised to its full potential with a floor to ceiling window in the penthouse or an infinity pool. Or simply the very best customer service where every want and desire is taken care of.
Luxury clients will choose a hotel because it offers them something more, something they can’t get elsewhere. It could be escapism. In which case, sell the experience. It could be familiarity and a feeling that staff ‘know them so well’. In which case, be sure to attend to identify and remember their personal choices – have their favourite dish ready on arrival, fill their minibar with their favourite drinks or brand of water and the paper they like to read.
Whatever it is. Find your niche and work it to your best ability.
In summary, there are many factors to consider when attempting to appeal to a luxury audience. Accommodation must be on point it’s true and the price point must be right, but most importantly you must aim to make your hotel a lifestyle choice, similar to how a designer fashion brand like Gucci will. Know what your brand stands for and remember like attracts like. Once one or two high net worth guests are sold on your experience, it won’t be long before your guests begin to do the talking for you.
You can read more of my thoughts on hotels that are really getting this right in my blog on Hotels That Know the Power of Unique Guest Experience https://www.liz-taylor-consulting.co.uk/index.php/2021/03/02/hotels-that-know-the-power-of-a-unique-guest-experience/
GETTING IT RIGHT
The Goring Hotel has been a royal favourite for many years, yet you won’t find this brand shouting it from the rooftops.
GETTING IT WRONG
Sometimes to get it right, you need to think about what other people have got wrong, I love this article in The Times which highlights common issues for hotel owners to consider.