The luxury travel market has performed well over the last few months and exciting new trends are emerging from the embers of the pandemic. There’s a noticeable boom in the hunger for private aviation, demand for total buyouts of villas and small boutique resorts, and the ground-swell of a movement to remote working in overseas destinations. Now, more than ever, as they make up lost time, these travellers are seeking exclusivity, ultra-personalisation, human touch, intuitive services, and unique experiences. A small but growing number of travellers with high net worth are also trading-in those holidays that flaunt wealth, replacing them with more discrete and responsible experiences that reduce global impact and signal core values.
LHC has certainly been riding on the crest of a wave recently. I have been happily engrossed in leading projects and assignments ranging from the UAE, Costa Rica, Swiss Alps and the French Riviera without any sign of a drop-off in clients needing our services. I’m certainly not complaining!
But… we know there are challenging times ahead. We’re already witnessing losses on the stock markets, aggressive interest hikes at central banks, unruly inflation in our economies, and soaring energy prices; all of which will impact our luxury travel industry. And, as history has shown, luxury too, has a cyclical pattern. As always, downturns and recessions generate significant opportunities for some, but these times also take courage and belief to stay the course. One needs to take a firm stance and keep steering towards the brighter horizon. But what is it that will ultimately define the winners of this complex and uncertain era?
I see three key areas in which the hospitality industry can protect its future: Firstly, by investing in analytics that ‘read’ your customer’s predictive data and extract insight. The knowledge is out there: It should be harnessed for your advantage. Secondly, settle for nothing less than real talent by recruiting and nurturing emotionally intelligent individuals that live and breathe (and challenge) your company’s values. And thirdly, create a company culture that encourages and empowers everyone to find new ways to innovate, keep things fresh and remain that crucial one step ahead of the crowd.
Proactive and confident decisions such as these will give you a solid base on which to ride out the waves that might lay ahead, but we also need to approach it all with an attitude of action, rather than just words. It is actions that will outpace the rest. Actions are what will carry you through choppy waters. This means not just having a sustainability conversation, but delivering on tangibly impactful changes. Not just having a lovely-looking hotel, but creating one in which a strong and unique sense of place flourishes. Not just ticking all the service delivery boxes but building a warm and caring environment overflowing with a personality that draws in your guests and starts forming those powerful emotional bonds.
Let’s not dwell on how many years have gone past for this to be the case, but I’ve seen more than one recession during my career and I feel sure that resting on our laurels and waiting for it to pass, like sheltering in a doorway during an unexpected downpour, is not the answer. Opportunities are there to be taken, and there’s opportunity in every situation. Please make sure you’re grasping whatever is going to carry you forward with strength, grace and an eye on better times. This too shall pass, but wouldn’t it be nice to see the sun shining again when the clouds part?