The Frighteningly Simple Ways Brands Can Tailor Their Strategy To Affluent Travelers Preferences

In Strategy, Digital Marketing, Luxury Travel

Halloween – that time of the year when we expect a scare or two. But as a luxury travel brand or a marketer targeting high-end travelers, you might feel affrighted year round. Indeed, in this day and age, constant changes in technology and people’s preferences are causing shifts in how and why wealthy travelers are vacationing. Most brands are not so quick to react to the changes, OTA’s are stepping up their game and travellers are choosing to book direct less frequently. High-end travel brands often miss out on a significant portion of potential bookings and revenue due to the utilization of outdated targeting and content strategies. But fear not! Skift Research has recently published a report on the affluent traveler behavior trends, and this data might be exactly what your marketing strategy is missing. Taking advantage of our expertise in digital marketing for luxury travel brands, we put together a roundup of some frighteningly simple things luxury travel brands can do to appeal to affluent travelers.

First things first, when we talk about affluent travelers, we’re referring to those with a household income of at least $100,000 USD who have taken at least one leisure trip in the past 12 months. Keep in mind, only 40% of affluent travelers consider themselves to be luxury travelers (according to the Skift annual survey from 2019).

68% of affluent travelers would rather have new experiences when traveling than just “relax”

Just under 1 of 3 affluent travelers always or often stay in luxury 5 star hotels, according to Skift’s research. While affluent travelers are wealthy and can afford luxury accommodation and transportation during their vacations, many don’t consider themselves to be luxury travelers. Instead, they see more value in experiences and activities and prioritize new destinations when making travel arrangements. As a luxury brand, you might think this holds up for the younger generation only, and might not concern you as much; however, according to Skift Research, “affluent travelers over the age of 55 would rather spend more money on better activities than a nicer hotel room”. So while it might feel only natural to want to entice users with things like luxurious room bedding and spacious room size, it can be more impactful to showcase the experiences and activities guests can enjoy on property or further afield.

76% of affluent travelers enjoy the trip planning process

Skift’s findings also showed that while this demographic can afford a travel agent, most prefer to book their trip themselves. Some might enjoy the process of researching and planning their getaways, others do so for the sake of time-efficiency and convenience. In fact, 2 in 3 affluent travelers have not used a travel agent to book in the last year. Despite these seemingly obvious facts, many brands choose dated strategies and focus their lead generation efforts on building relationships with travel agents. While this strategy might continue to work for some businesses, there is a significant opportunity in generating leads when working directly with potential guests.

61% of affluent travelers use social media for trip inspiration

Social media is influencing travelers across all budget and generational segments, and affluent travelers are no exception. To ensure that they are reaching the self-sufficient high-end travelers, brands need to invest time and resources into developing their presence online. An omnichannel approach on social media can help to build a relationship with customers and strengthen brand loyalty organically through images, storytelling and social proof.

From our experience, we know that social media marketing can be quite intimidating for many, but it really shouldn’t need to be. Entertaining content and appropriate targeting is all you need to get started on a successful organic or paid social strategy.

“Luxury travellers are after unique, memorable experiences.”

While people will say this, it’s human nature to feel more comfortable moving ahead with the familiar. This is where a strong digital strategy comes into play. The more enticing we can make a new experience appear, the easier it will be to persuade users to book a novel experience.

Holiday planners need to be able to visualize themselves in those new environments and trust that the hotel is as nice as you say it is. As they turn to social media in search of travel inspiration, bold photography and video content are great tools to make use of. Capturing their attention early on ensures a better chance at cultivating a stronger brand-customer relationship and encourages them to move further down the funnel.

Affluent travelers care more about what others think of their travel choices

Skift’s data showed that 60% of affluent travelers are likely to choose a destination based on the thoughts of others. This provides a great opportunity to leverage social proof and user generated content. If future travelers notice that a certain brand or activity is highly popular and endorsed by others, they are more likely to choose it. Travel reviews and user generated content are often considered to be authentic and more trusted than branded content. Therefore it is generally recommended to actively engage with users on social media, motivating them to share personal experiences and photographs.

It is important to listen to your customers, provide value and address concerns at every stage of their journey. For instance, while users that are looking for initial vacation ideas will find bright imagery rather inspirational, those who have started to seriously look at booking a trip may respond well to seeing social proof in the form of reviews and customer testimonials.

Over the past three years, we’ve seen the number of people consider trips of 6 nights or more increase by 26%

As a luxury brand, you are probably investing heavily into spreading awareness and gaining new customers. However, incentivizing your current customers to stay longer may be much easier than generating and converting a new lead. Pop-ups have a bad reputation but used tastefully and sparingly, with the precise strategic targeting, they can perform magic. Misused, and you’ve created an experience fit for a haunted house.

The desires and preferences of modern affluent travelers might seem temporal and ever shifting, like the shadows during the dark Halloween night. But, once the data shines the bright moon light at it, all seems less scary and almost makes sense. There is no one single strategy correct for all, but the key here is to listen to your customers, collect and monitor data and build out digital strategies based on those insights. More importantly, test and tweak everything.

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