High fliers: adapting online content for the luxury millennial traveller

Business is booming in the luxury destination market. Over the next 10 years, the growth rate in high-end trips abroad is predicted at 6.2% – almost a third greater than that of the overall travel market (4.8%).

Findings from the latest Victor Private Jet Travel report show that private aviation is growing 2.8% year-on-year in western Europe, while market research firm Transparency forecasts an ongoing CAGR of 4% for the global high-end hotel market. All in all, spend in the luxury travel industry is expected to hit $340bn by 2020.

One of the driving forces behind this success is the growing millennial appetite for top-dollar travel. We discuss three ways to up the ‘opulent’ factor in travel content – and specifically target the luxury millennial traveller.

Personalise with targeted destination guides

Luxury service is personal service. And even moreso than Gen X, millennials increasingly expect digital personalisation. Brands that can identify the likely requirements of their prospective guests – and develop content that caters specifically to these desires – will therefore be the ones that stand out online. Of course, before personalisation is possible, brands must first get to know their customers. Travel solutions provider Amadeus identifies three key ‘tribes’ of luxury traveller:

  • ‘Bluxury’, who combine business trips with luxury getaways (comprising 31% of luxury travellers)
  • Cash-rich, time-poor (24%)
  • Special occasion (20%)

So how can brands meet the needs of these customers, particularly at the crucial research stage of the online travel purchase journey? One way is to produce informative and inspiring destination guides, specifically tailored to these tribes or segments.

For example, let’s say that a luxury brand wanted to attract increased organic search traffic from ‘bluxury’ travellers. According to the Bridgestreet Bleisure Report, these consumers favour holiday activities that involve sightseeing, followed by dining and arts/culture-themed activities.

Looking at this information, travel brands hoping to woo a ‘bluxury’ audience might prioritise informative, search-optimised destination guide content focused on time-sensitive cultural tours: “What to do with 24 hrs in New York”, or “Dubai in three days: a whistle-stop tour”, in order to increase their visibility in search results for related terms. 

Use social media to deliver content post-purchase

According to OgilvyRed and ILTM, over 70% of luxury millennial travellers use social media as a source of information when booking a luxury holiday. However, social content can also be used as a customer service mechanism during the traveller’s stay.

Marriott Hotels offers a good example. After a 2016 study from Marriott Hotels and Hurun Research Institute found that 61% of young people prefer electronic guest services, Marriott implemented a “unique suite of Chinese language services”. The scheme, entitled ‘Li Yu’, allows concierge services to be operated entirely via social media app WeChat, offering pre-trip advice and information, as well as delivering hotel and destination guide content.

Rather than force customers to download a dedicated brand app (which can be met by a certain level of resistance), Li Yu meets guests where they are: on social media. By using the social platform as a content distribution channel throughout the customer’s stay, it enhances the guest experience and deepens the brand relationship in a convenient, non-intrusive manner.

Embrace mobile for international audiences

While mobile continues to lag far behind desktop in terms of luxury travel conversion, research from luxury travel marketing agency 80 Days indicates that the vast majority of online travel traffic in Saudi Arabia (76%) and the United Emirates (53%) goes through mobile. China is similarly biased, with mobile’s share of its online travel market set to hit 77% by 2020. So while travellers aren’t necessarily booking via mobile, they are certainly still browsing in droves.

With so many prospective customers reading your content on a phone screen, optimising content for mobile is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s essential. To maintain SEO, engagement and conversion metrics, businesses must prioritise following mobile content best practice. We outline seven steps to optimal mobile content in our infographic here.

Focus on experiences, not expense

According to research by OgilvyRed and ILTM, 96% of luxury millennial travellers prefer memorable experiences to gaining new possessions. In fact, research from Oxford Economics & nVision predicts that global spend on ‘experiential’ travel will hit €1,750bn by 2025, compared to €1,250bn spent on materialist holidays.

To cater to this experience-driven market, travel brands should focus their conversion-stage content (for example, hotel or excursion descriptions) on the aspects of the trip or accommodation that are likely to really resonate: luxury attractions that offer unique, Instagram-able, life-changing experiences. Instead of describing the expensive chandelier in the hotel lobby, for example, shout about the inspiring view from the bedroom windows. Highlight the once-in-a-lifetime exclusivity of your service, and the memories that customers will take away with them.

Luxury service isn’t just about meeting a customer’s needs; it’s about understanding and anticipating those needs long before they even arise. As millennials increase in spending power, high-end travel brands need to adapt to ensure their digital content experiences evolve in line with changing consumer expectations. 

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