Luxury travel gets personal
6 Oct 2017 - by Sue van Winsen
Personalisation has been one of the big buzzwords for luxury travel over the last few years – and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away as travellers increasingly seek experiences that are tailor-made to their specific interests and tastes. But what does this actually mean for travel suppliers – and how are they adapting their offering to appeal to this demand?
Amy Reynolds, luxury brand manager of Cruises International, says personalisation has become extremely important as luxury travellers seek out unique experiences over luxury goods. “Experiences are flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of any guest,” she says. “In the cruising industry, this is evident in the added benefits that cruise lines offer such as additional beverage packages, excursions, spa packages or ship credit.”
Luxury means totally different things to different people, points out Joanne Visagie, sales and marketing manager of Beachcomber. “It may be thread count, butlers or Michelin stars,” she says, “or perhaps its high service levels, the location of the resort, high standards of accommodation, proximity of the beach of the variety of hotel facilities.
“This requires high-level thinking, confidence and skill in the consultation process by the travel agent,” says Visagie. “Any personal requests or needs are shared with us by the travel agent, and we ensure this is carried through at the hotel during their stay. One person’s luxury can be another person’s ordinary, so it’s this discernment that is pivotal. The overall stay needs to be special and catered to their own personal preferences combining enjoyment, enrichment, appreciation of surroundings at a price that represents value for money.”
But Nic Griffin of The Thornybush Collection, says personalisation is less about the gimmicky extras and far more about careful consideration of all the guest touch points during their stay.
For example, he says, Thornybush introduced a butler system, where deck staff are allocated certain guests to look after for the duration of the stay, which he says has become “pleasantly competitive” among staff.
He also stresses that it’s important to encourage visibility by senior staff, particularly during meal times. This ensures that service levels are maintained, and also gives guests the opportunity to speak to lodge managers about their experience, preferences and also the opportunity to raise any issues.
This story has been updated since it was published.