In Trends

lux·u·ry (n.)
1. Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort.
2. Something expensive or hard to obtain.
3. Sumptuous living or surroundings.

Consumers’ pennies and purses are kept under tight lock and key these days—which is why, for the moment, the dictionary definition of “luxury” is unlikely to draw a good consumer response and, therefore, has become somewhat of a “dirty word” in marketing hospitality and travel. But what is the true meaning of luxury, and have we begun to redefine its terms?

Lavish vacations at extravagant resorts are not high on the priority list when people are scrimping just to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table and gas up their vehicles. In a down economy, consumers are in no state of mind to spend frivolously on things that are not essential to their everyday lives. So what does this mean for the luxury hotel and resort industry?

It means taking a look at people’s redefined values and repositioning the concept of luxury itself. It means evolving the way the industry approaches and sells the idea of a luxury experience. No longer is luxury about glamour, glitz and having expensive “stuff”—now it’s about precious time with family, meaningful experiences, authenticity and genuineness. Luxury is less about materialistic, flashy lifestyles and more about personalization—finding what truly matters to the consumer and providing them with that “luxury.”

The hospitality and travel industries can offer this new concept of luxury in a number of ways, and it begins with strategy.

According to the March 15th release of The Wealth Report, “The onslaught of economic recession and the inevitable changes in customer values and behaviors during 2008 and 2009 caused luxury brands to embrace the concept of customer-centric, data-driven marketing. In 2010, marketing and communication budget dollars are being reallocated to more measurable and highly profitable customer-centric initiatives to deliver short and long-term brand growth and profitability…Luxury brands are now looking to understand their customers and adapt their marketing strategies to best serve their interests.”

“This all means that luxury brands are looking to gain a complete understanding of their customers across all sales channels. This includes key insights on customer profiles and purchase behaviors by channel, value and loyalty, seasonality, gender, product affinities, and cross-sell/up-sell links. With customer data in hand, they are able to implement differentiated communication treatments to identified customer segments, personalize the customer experience and increase revenue.”

Hope is not lost for luxury brands even at the hands of a recession, so long as they remain dedicated to understanding and catering to their audience at all times. For more information on how to position and sell your luxury experience in today’s economy, contact


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