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The rise of experiential luxury in hotels and resorts

The luxury sector has undergone a seismic shift in recent years and continues to transform with rapid demographic and technological changes. From consumer goods to travel, we have entered a new era of luxury, and heritage and history for a premium brand is no longer enough to maintain relevance and marketshare for this new breed of consumer.

Once the domain of the elite few, luxury has become democratised, now accessible to a booming middle class globally, and within this growing demographic the rules of the game are constantly evolving. The challenge for brands in this space is capitalising on this new customer while maintaining a sense of exclusivity and prestige.

Meeting this challenge head on is the rise of experiential luxury, in particular in the category of travel, including hotels and resorts. The emerging middle class is initially drawn to the material aspects of high-end travel, but as the market matures, and in those more established, it is unique, personalised, differentiated experiences that are being sought. Luxury, then, becomes less about ‘owning’ and more about ‘being’, and a clear line has been drawn under the old notion luxury.

According to research by Boston Consulting Group, nearly half of all consumers and a majority of millennials say they are buying fewer products and purchasing more experiences, and by 2022 the experiential segment is forecast to account for nearly two-thirds of the total luxury market.

Individuality over uniformity

What represents a luxury experience means different things to different people, which is why understanding what drives this type of traveller is key to meeting their needs. Consumers are looking to create lifetime memories with tailored trips that connect with their worldview and reflect their values, whether it’s sustainable travel, wellness getaways, a connection to nature, or a desire to respectfully enjoy different cultures in an authentic way.

The brands that will succeed in this environment are those who deliver much more than their material product to their customers, creating an emotional connection through incredible one-off moments that feel customised and unique.

 

Rewriting the high-end hotel rulebook

This desire for individuality and personality has led to the rapid growth of boutique hotels. These hotels have become popular with travellers who appreciate the sense of local personality they provide, and their smaller size which enables one-on-one service. The real local flavour people are seeking is reflected in the design and amenities, whether it’s local materials and art featured in the rooms, food sourced from the surrounding region, or staff with insider recommendations and advice.

However, this boutique trend is one the major chains are not ignoring, with many creating sub-brands to take advantage of this growing demographic. At Brand & Co, we are also keeping pace with these changes and applying our strategic branding and marketing capabilities to the boutique hotel sector. We are excited to capitalise on the opportunities this expanding market provides and work with brands to design the entire hotel experience from the ground up, creating uniquely luxurious, memorable stays for guests that feel authentic and capture the essence of a destination.

20 years of expertise

As we celebrate two decades in business working with luxury hotels and resorts, Brand & Co has utilised our expertise to keep brands at the forefront of these emerging trends.

We understand the shift in consumer expectations for luxury travel and are able to seamlessly reposition brands to meet these changing demands.

Over 20 years, we have worked across every facet of the hotel and resort business. From partnering with asset owners and managers to maximise the profitability of an asset, to rebranding some of the biggest names in the industry, right through to driving sales of villa resort developments, our deep understanding of the sector has enabled us to deliver exceptional results for our clients, and set them up to face the challenges of the future.

20 years of outstanding results

Following is just a small selection of the globally recognised brands we have worked with, using strategic insights to successfully reposition their brands in competitive markets.

Great Barrier Reef Yacht Club and Luxury Villas

In 2003, the late Bob Oatley OAM, the new owner of a then lacklustre Hamilton Island, had a vision to transform it into an exclusive world-class sailing and holiday destination. Hamilton Island Race Week, a new yacht club, luxury villas and a golf course would bring this vision to life. Brand & Co created a brand and identity platform for the yacht club and villas, designed to change perceptions about the island and drive villa sales. The successful launch garnered widespread national and international coverage and generated property sales of $80 million during the first race week. The new branding repositioned Hamilton Island as an elite holiday destination as well as a global boating mecca, with Hamilton Island Race Week now a coveted fixture on the international racing calendar.

Intercontinental Hotels Group

Brand & Co was appointed by IHG Sydney to create an overarching brand idea and design for all their corporate marketing and consumer sales collateral. Our approach highlighted the hotel’s unique offering while connecting it back to the brand’s core positioning. The project included the redesign of all their print and digital brand assets combined with a series of campaigns that effectively localised the global marketing campaign – ‘Do you live an Intercontinental life?’

 

Mercure Hotel, Folkestone

Folkestone had acquired an asset that traded under the Mercure brand, part of the Accor hotel group. Brand & Co worked closely with both the hotel brand and asset owner to provide brand strategy services. We helped revitalise an underperforming asset by creating an appealing and vibrant destination brand that was a draw for both visitors and locals alike. A powerful brand strategy was built upon in-depth market research, a complete brand audit and interviews with all key stakeholders.

Other hotels and resorts we have worked with include The Park Hyatt, Stamford Services Apartments, Sentosa Cove in Singapore, The Peninsula Hope Island and Whisper Bay in Airlie Beach.

As we proudly celebrate our 20th anniversary and look to the future, Brand & Co will continue to operate at the leading edge of the luxury hotels and resorts space, successfully steering brands through the dynamic, constantly evolving landscape.

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