Luxury marketing hasn’t changed that much since consumerism started in the early 1950s. Regardless of the new digital technologies, social media, and online distribution systems, the essence of selling luxury hotel experiences is very similar to what it was 70 years ago.
From the classic city hotels of New York City to the over-water villas of the Maldives, luxury has the same language: sophistication, class, and exclusivity. But what is a luxury good and what is luxury marketing? These two definitions are important to cover.
In economics, a luxury good is a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises so that expenditures on the good become a greater proportion of overall spending. Luxury goods are in contrast to necessity goods, where demand increases proportionally less than income.
Luxury marketing is the marketing of luxury goods that are not considered necessary to the consumer, but which make life more pleasant. The luxury market is considered different from the traditional consumer market because luxury buyers make exclusive purchases that the majority of consumers cannot afford.
Luxury travel is very much in line with these five basic luxury principles:
- People don’t need luxury goods but want those
- Demand increases with income
- Demand increases with exclusivity
- Luxury goods are exclusive to those who can afford those
- Luxury goods and services that become available to the masses will lose their luxury status
- Luxury buyers don’t buy luxury items to indulge, for them luxury is standard
In this article, we have collected the bare essential luxury hotel marketing principles, that are commonly applied to establish an impressive, successful marketing communication system.
Here, at Brand Auditor we conduct dozens of hotels and resort brand audits monthly. If you would like to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your hotel brand, then proceed to this page to configure your hotel and resort-specific brand audit.
Research your ideal guests, and be specific with segmentation
Successful hotel marketing starts with knowing the demographical and sociological characteristics of your ideal guests. Forget the “we want to be good for everyone” philosophy, as that will sabotage any luxury brand development and marketing communication efforts.
In the light of your destination, demographics, and your hotel concept, decide who are the groups of people who would enjoy staying in your hotel the most. Are they families, couples, or friends? Which segments of guests your hotel is the best suited for?
Going into more details, it is important to understand what level of luxury your hotel or resort can offer? Is it affordable luxury with flashy elements for the price-sensitive middle-class, or something for the super-affluent who are already used to an extravagant lifestyle? Each segment has different needs and wants, and those have to be addressed in entirely different ways.
Do guests in your key segments belong to culturally or ideologically sensitive groups? If yes then consider that and avoid showcasing anything that could trigger conflicting opinions or dislike.
Master the positioning of your brand
By definition, brand positioning refers to the place that a brand occupies in the minds of the customers and how it is distinguished from the products of the competitors and different from the concept of brand awareness.
A classic positioning statement sounds like this:
Our hotel is the best choice for XYZ, because we are the best in ABC and DEF.
In practice, the positioning of your brand exists in the minds of your customers and has little to do with your internal positioning statements. The actual positioning of your brand can be defined by the perceptions and opinions of your customers, based on what they saw and experienced about your brand, through your marketing communications efforts.
If your marketing messages are clearly defined and delivered efficiently, then the strategic brand positioning statement will be successfully conveyed, and potential guests will like your hotel for what you communicated about it.
In case your marketing communications are unclear, then people exposed to your marketing will likely develop wrong ideas and opinions about your brand that you no longer will be able to control.
Most luxury brands regularly audit their positioning by getting feedback from their key segments regarding what they like and dislike about their brand. This enables them to optimize and fine-tune their marketing to strengthen their desired positioning. You can learn more about our hotel brand audit on this page.
Product presentation and differentiation, in line with brand guidelines
Building on the previous sections, product presentation must support the brand positioning of the hotel and must be attractive to key target segments. The most successful luxury hotel brands work with simple product presentation principles to introduce the features of their properties with clarity.
- Photos that tell a story
- Information that is both factual and descriptive
- Great emphasis on details
- Clarity and harmony
An efficient product presentation will showcase all the differentiating details without being too much. Product presentation is a strategic tool to achieve the required differentiation, and most luxurious hotel and resort brands put significant efforts into crafting product presentations that make their unique features easy to understand.
In hospitality marketing, a great product presentation has 3 key elements:
- Short, factual information that answers most questions guests would ask
- Beautifully composed photos that show the features and unique aspects of the rooms and the hotel as a whole
- Videos that bring both the written and photographic information into motion
Photos are best used to display details that a potential guest would observe for a longer time – such as room photos, pictures of restaurants, pools, outlets, and artistic décor.
Videos work well to showcase more dynamic experiences, such as excursions, water sports, arrival experience scenes, or food preparation details.
To make a product presentation and differentiation support the brand positioning statement of the hotel, it is essential to stick with the brand guidelines that include the purposeful use of colors, recurring themes, and featuring certain types of guests.
Consistency is key in luxury marketing. Successful luxury hotel brands pay attention to details, so every video, photo, and piece of written content comes with the same editing style, theme, and tone of voice that supports the strategic brand positioning statement.
Choose a tone of voice that represents your brand values
The way you convey your marketing communications messages is a key element of the brand personality. A brand tone of voice is the way companies communicate with their audience, including the choice of words, the writing style, and the emotional tone. The tone of voice is an important differentiating factor, setting your communications apart from other luxury brands.
Choosing an appropriate tone of voice for your brand is a commitment, as it has to be kept for an extended time and needs to be applied to all marketing communication channels for the hotel or resort. From brochures to video ads, the tone of voice will set the basis of the personality of your brand.
Leisure-first brands often choose a casual, storytelling-style tone of voice that creates warmth and a sense of friendliness in the reader. This is ideal to warm up potential guests to the brand and establish a connection.
Business-first hotels, such as luxury city hotels tend to go for a more factual and dry tone of voice.
For luxury brands, choosing a quirky or funny tone of voice is not recommended as it does not convey professionalism and will most likely repel potential guests. Such a tone of voice is associated with budget and entry-level 5-star hotels, cheap holiday resorts, and generally not welcomed or appreciated by luxury guests.
Based on our brand audit insights, hotel and resort brands with a poor tone of voice are 74% more likely to be not considered by luxury travelers.
Brands with a “funny” tone of voice are 80% more often described as overpriced. This means that choosing a “funny” tone of voice significantly reduces the perceived value of the brand and hotel product. This aspect of brand and marketing management is commonly neglected by the hotel marketing management team.