oday’s luxury travelers may only represent 27 percent of the travel population as a whole, but they’re likely to spend $2,000 more than the typical traveler – that’s one seriously desirable demographic. How do you attract these spendy travelers to your destination? Learn to speak luxury.
If your goal is to cater to travelers who want nothing but the best and have the money to achieve it, it’s important to get inside their heads and understand not only what they’re seeking from their travel, but why. Once you have that information, you can get down to the how.
We put together a step-by-step plan for helping you understand your luxury customers and engage with them in a way that will resonate at every touch point.
Step 1. Do Your Homework
Conduct research to find out as much as you can about your ideal customers’ demographics, travel preferences, and expectations. If you don’t have an analytics company that you work with, this can be accomplished through customer surveys, reading through online reviews, and studying your social media to see what travelers are saying about your destination.
In general, today’s luxury travelers skew male (but not by much) and are a bit older than other travel audiences, have young children, are well educated, and see food/cuisine as a top priority when choosing a destination. Your audience may look different, so it’s important to do some digging.
Step 2. Create a Roadmap
What stages do luxury customers go through when they decide to go on a trip? Defining the stages of travel is the next step, because those are the points where you have the opportunity to engage. Most typically, these include:
- Inspiration and research: Where do they want to go, what attracts them to a location, what would they like to do while they’re visiting?
- Booking: It’s decision time. At this stage, customers will finalize their transportation and lodging.
- Pre-trip planning: After a trip is booked, it’s time to start working on the details like choosing tours and attractions, booking time at the spa and researching the area’s dining options.
- Arrival: In a word, this stage of their journey should be seamless. Luxury travelers expect amenities like valet parking, easy check-in, a warm welcome, and bellhops handy to help with bags. To make the experience even better, invest in technology like mobile check-in and keyless room entry.
- On-site experience: This is your opportunity to let your travelers know that they made the right choice with your property. Attention to detail is key here, from personalized recommendations to concierge services that can include booking spa and dining appointments.
- Departure: When you say goodbye, let your customers know that you’ll miss them as much as they’ll miss you. Consider leaving a little parting gift inside their room (high-end snacks and bottled water for the road, for example), and once again be ready to help them with their luggage.
Step 3. Identify Touch Points for Each Stage
Now that you have the roadmap, it’s time to determine how your customers interact during each stage of their journey. For example, what resources do they use for planning and research? Research shows that 32 percent of luxury travelers used an official destination website to plan travel in the past year. They also frequently turn to agents and advisers to help with planning. Understanding this type of information makes it clear where you need to engage these customers and make sure your property is featured.
The booking stage is the perfect opportunity to offer personalization options and begin offering added value, like trip inspiration and information on exclusive tours, personalized service, and envy-inducing photo opportunities.
When they arrive, your luxury customers should feel like you’ve been expecting them. Be sure to greet them by name, and consider creating a full-color brochure or gated web page that outlines all of the special perks (and photo spots) that are only available to them.
By taking the time to dig into each stage of your roadmap, you’ll be able to create a thorough list of all the ways that customers might interact with your property, and vice versa. From there, you can develop a strategy for personalized communication every step of the way.
Step 4. Make It Emotional
A large part of any trip is how it makes you feel, and many of the purchase decisions we make in all areas of life are based on emotion. Ask yourself: What emotions are luxury travelers feeling at each touch point? Are they excited when they’re planning, tired when they finally arrive, and sad to leave? These tidbits of information, known as psychographics, can help you create customer personas and really get a feel for how their journey will affect them emotionally.
Keep in mind that the emotions experienced by luxury travelers are likely very different from those traveling on a budget. In addition to the excitement that everyone feels when they travel, luxury customers might also feel a sense of accomplishment and exclusivity – and it’s your job to create a customer experience that reflects that. (One way is to put together an experiential video that focuses on moments rather than amenities. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.)
Step 5. Exceed Expectations
Luxury travelers have certain expectations when they travel, including high-end accommodations, upgrades, exceptional spas, fine dining options (and no problem making a reservation), attention to detail, and exclusive experiences that aren’t available to the general public.
They also crave personalization at every touch point, from welcome messages to being greeted by name at check-in, to personalized recommendations for on-site and off-site activities. Consider a handwritten note to welcome them upon arrival, or one to bid them farewell and thank them for their stay.
Step 6. Measure the Results
How can you tell if your customer journey map is correct? Metrics like repeat bookings and referrals are good indicators, along with online reviews – little gems of information that can tell you so much about what you’re doing right (and what you need to work on). While the errant review might just reflect someone who’s angry at the moment, take the repeated feedback seriously. It’s a great way to get inside your customers’ heads.