The luxury sector experienced a huge setback with the onset of the worldwide financial crisis. Things have begun to settle down, but the boundless optimism of the pre-recession years is missing. Affluent travelers have cut down on their luxury spends in the months following the recession. However, the mood remains upbeat in the luxury travel sector since wealthy travelers often reward themselves with expensive holidays. However, reeling in these customers has become a different ball game. Luxury hotels are employing new tacks these days. The focus of new age luxury hotel advertising is no longer on luxury alone, but on personal experiences that guests can carry away at the end of their holiday.
1. Ritz-Carlton Hotels
Theme: “Let us stay with you.”
Agency: Team One Advertising
Budget: $10 million to $15 million
The new advertising campaign for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain is all about building an emotional connection with its customers. As Mark Miller, chief strategic officer at the luxury hotel group’s creative agency, put it, the new campaign focuses on measuring a stay at the Ritz-Carlton not in the number of days, but in the number of memories, “so you get your memory’s worth, not just your money’s worth.”
What kind of memories can guests at Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide expect to create? The luxury hotel advertising campaign lists out a few: “Let us invent a drink in your honor,” “Let us re-create the recipe from your favorite meal in Paris,” or “Let us take you snorkeling by moonlight.”
The campaign rises out of the context of the still-troubled American economy. Miller puts it succinctly, “Luxury is not a necessity.” So why is Ritz-Carlton spending tens of millions of dollars on an advertising campaign? The idea is that although the overall economy may be troubled, affluent customers are unlikely to scrimp on their annual vacation plans. The justification here is that luxury vacations at luxury hotels around the world become rewards for overcoming financial difficulties.
2. Orient-Express Hotels
Theme: “Embark on a journey like no other.”
Agency: Chandelier Creative
Budget: $1 million
Orient-Express Hotels has also chosen a similar tack. Their advertisement campaign features a fictional family that experiences the luxury hotels of the Orient-Express chain in their own high-end way. The focus here is not so much about the money value as the unique experiences that can be enjoyed at the group’s luxury properties.
The aptly named and fictional Astorbilt family plays the lead role in this luxury hotel campaign. The four-member family includes Duke (the father), Lauren (the mother), Maximilian (the son) and Penelope (the daughter). The foursome travels all over the world together. The ads show them at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, at Peru’s Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge and at Venice’s Hotel Cipriani. You do get to see the grounds and interiors of the Orient-Express luxury hotels, but all attention is on the Astorbilts and the good time that they are having.
The ad campaign has achieved its aim to “create a world around each character” as was revealed by Richard Christiansen, creative director of Orient-Express’ creative agency Chandelier Creative. Thus, the new line of ads is not devoted to simply playing up high-end rooms and services. It is more cinematic and designed to take viewers on a journey. The luxury hotel campaign is particularly focused on attracting a younger clientele, specifically the “29-year-old investment banker” rather than Orient-Express’ regular audience of 40- to 60-year-olds.
3. Luxury Collection
Theme: “Life is a collection of experiences. Let us be your guide.”
Agency: Atmosphere Proximity
Photographer: David Prince
The Luxury Collection, an upscale branch of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, is also keen to reinvent its brand image. The result is a new print and online advertising campaign that promotes the luxury group in a year when luxury travel is expected to grow by over 5 percent.
The luxury hotel campaign features five full-page advertisements. Ace photographer David Prince has created magic for luxury collection. Each of the ads featured framed images of various luxury hotels belonging to the Luxury Collection brand. Additionally, each print ad is replete with travel souvenirs from holiday destinations around the world. The ads feature beach resorts, golf resorts, contemporary-style hotels as well as hotels that smack of European history.
A fine example is a general ad that showcases Luxury Collection hotels in Mexico, Italy, India, the United States and Peru. Apart from the vignettes, this ad features souvenirs and other items like coral, starfish, a clock, a figurine, a wine glass and golf tees.
The ads also feature books that bear the names of the luxury hotels. According to Prince, the ads are dedicated to “trigger points that stimulate your emotions and your memories, and the moments that inspire us when we travel.” He added that unlike most other luxury hotel ads that highlight their services, interiors and facilities, the Luxury Collection campaign highlights unique “personal touches” instead.
4. Conrad Hotels and Resorts
Theme: “The luxury of being yourself.”
Agency: Young & Rubicam
Photographer: Anders Overgaard
The ultra-luxurious Conrad Hotels and Resorts turns 25 this year. The luxury hotel chain has decided to celebrate its silver jubilee by unfurling a new marketing campaign. The hotel chain comes under the umbrella of Hilton Worldwide. Within the next four years, the luxury hotel chain is expected to double its current portfolio and have greater presence around the world.
Conrad Hotels and Resorts is proud of providing “Smart Luxury” to its guests. Its new print ads are dedicated to celebrating the global traveler. The theme “The luxury of being yourself” showcases the hotel chain in all its glory but also zooms in on the unique characteristics of its affluent guests.
The ads showcase the Conrad guests “being themselves” at various locations around the world. “Noodle Shop” takes a couple to Hong Kong market and captures them feasting on local food. “Fishing” features a young woman carrying fish she has supposedly caught in the waters of Thailand’s Koh Samui. Another ad promotes the new Conrad Koh Samui. A fourth, “Departure” features a confident, stylish woman leaving the Conrad Hong Kong attracting glances from other guests. The images are stylized with a high-fashion touch – something that is to be expected from leading fashion photographer Anders Overgaard.