Lifestyle hotel brands are experiencing a resurgence as the global economy continues to repair itself. Generally known as brands which target a specific demographic with design, amenities, and services, lifestyle hotels are now wildly popular. For decades most leisure travelers in the US expected their hotel to have a bed, telephone, clean bathroom, and television. Maybe a view if it was next to the ocean. Now? Themed fitness programs, high-end toiletries, bathrooms having glass walls, 400 thread count cotton bed linens, and the list goes on.
One of the first lifestyle brand hotels was Ian Schrager’s Morgans Hotel in New York City. It debuted in 1984 with the concept of low lighting, modern design, and a lobby bar that doubled as a party lounge in the evenings. At that time hotel rooms were about as exciting as your basic blue shirt. Fast forward to 2011. Now, large and well established brands such as Marriott and Starwood have created their own line of lifestyle brands.
Ian Schrager recently teamed up with Marriott International to develop a new brand known as EDITION Hotels. With funky design and modern art, the Waikiki EDITION offers unique luxury such as thire Honolulu Surf and Bikini Boot Camp and an outdoor movie theater showing first-run films under the stars. What makes this and all lifestyle brands attractive are the features that set them apart from the competition. They form an environment and experience the guest is looking for in each location.
The airlines have discovered a nifty way to really get the attention of consumers and competitors. Just yesterday, Spirit Airlines announced service from Los Angeles International (LAX) to Las Vegas McCarron (LAS) with introductory one-way fares of just $1.00 per seat, plus applicable taxes. While this bargain fare is heavily restricted to travel on certain days and flights, it is creating quite a buzz.
Spirit Airlines is one of few airlines that focus on leisure travel. By this, I mean they fly to very leisure oriented destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Atlantic City. They have also been part of the pioneering group of airlines that started charging for everything from pillows to advance seating assignments. So why has Spirit Airlines not already targeted LAX to Vegas? So many competitors – both low cost and legacy carriers – already serve the market. They needed a bold way to introduce their brand and get attention in order to make the five daily flights a success.
The industry impact has been interesting. Some airlines like jetBlue and Allegiant Air did engage in a “fare war” while much larger Delta Air Lines and United Airlines did not. My guess is that much of the passenger traffic on Delta and United is connecting through LAX and therefore they feel the discounted fares would not help to gain market share.
While the $1.00 fare seems ridiculous, it is a proven sales tactic that generates traffic to Spirit’s website, talk in the industry, and gets the seats filled.
Since 2008, nearly 20,000 daily seats have been eliminated from the greater New York City to Las Vegas air travel market. The Northeastern US also has a growing number of casinos popping up from Atlantic City to Southeastern Connecticut. As the economy begins to repair itself, Las Vegas has noticed that gamers are opting to stay local. Vegas needs a new and unique way to get their high profile casino gamblers back to the Nevada desert. Enter LV Air!
Yesterday it was reported that a new airline called LV Air intends to charter wide-body Boeing 767 aircraft to provide new passenger service between Las Vegas McCarron and New York’s JFK International Airport. The twist is that the brand’s aircraft are slated to have nightclub inspired mood lighting, club music played while boarding, flatbed seating for 18 passengers in it’s premium cabin, and onboard iPads available. Other features include holograms of celebrities providing the pre-flight safety announcements, meals catered from notable Las Vegas restaurants, and luggage transfer service direct from the aircraft to hotel room eliminating waits at the baggage claim carousel.
LV Air is talking to multiple casinos in Las Vegas to create partnerships for transportation of the casinos’ best “high rollers”. The agreements are said to include allowing those casinos to have first rights over seats to transport their clients. It is widely known that many casinos operate or lease private jets to transport their biggest players to the casinos. This concept would allow the casinos to provide a luxurious and unique air travel experience while avoiding the cost of leasing or operating their own jets.
Brilliant branding, multiple sales channels, and providing a unique experience from the big apple to the desert oasis is coming this year. Keep your eye out for developments at LV Air!
The baby boomers are arriving at early retirement and those of us in the travel industry have been waiting patiently. This gigantic group of more than 76 million Americans have huge spending power: One estimate suggests that the baby boomer generation accounts for about 50% of all discretionary spending and about 80% of today’s leisure travel (data from http://www.thirdage.com). Keeping in mind the changing characteristics of the maturing adult, now is the time to make your adjust your brand image and product offering to meet their needs.
People approaching retirement today have become much more technology savvy than previous generations. If you advertise online, do not assume that a senior discount is the only way to draw attention to your brand. Incorporate pictures of seniors in graphics, create special web pages showcasing target products, and stay on top of online forums and groups where you can highlight your product and create an impact.
Senior citizens will continue to like packaged products. A hotel that works with a nearby restaurant to provide a special meal package allows both venues to increase sales…. Just be sure that your brands compliment each other! Value added travel experiences are not new but with the size of the upcoming retirement population, it is worth revamping your product image and cooperating with others to create an experience the mature consumer will enjoy.
If you are in the hospitality industry, make sure your interior and exterior lighting is good, stairs kept to a minimum, entertainment is age-appropriate, and product has the retirement crowd in mind. A great suggestion would be to contact a local senior citizen activity center and invite a few folks over to visit. Show them what you offer and ask for their thoughts.
In any case, get ready because the baby boomers are a big crowd with a big impact!