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Luxury travel sector embraces social media

The invitation-only event facilitated over 51,000 individual meetings between the luxury travel industry’s elite – hotels, travel agencies, tour operators and media. This is most probably the only travel industry event that is attended by all 6 editors of Conde Nast Traveller.

This year ILTM in collaboration with the Future Laboratory presented a ground-breaking report about emerging trends in the luxury travel market.

On 3-6 December 2012 Palais des Festivals in Cannes hosted one of the most splendid luxury travel shows in the world: ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market).

Substantial part of the report is dedicated to  « social media engagement » of luxury travel brands. Currently this luxury market sector embraces the online presence trend – especially social media – and expresses major content from this strategic move.

The experts from the Future Laboratory say: « Social media is no longer simply a handy additional way to talk to luxury travellers. It is a dominant voice across the entire brand and consumer conversation. ‘I don’t think you can separate the digital from the physical world any more when somebody engages with your products and services,’ says Starwood Hotels’ Bonke. ‘Social is the hot side of digital right now, and we see it as a great opportunity to share a rich and immersive experience with our customers,’ says Ritz-Carlton’s Gabaldon. The Future Laboratory reveals that almost half (46%) of travel buyers who engage with luxury clients through social media get more positive feedback, and 55% of this group say that social media has increased their business. »*

The Future Laboratory surveyed the exhibitors of ILTM (mainly luxury hotels from all over the world). The findings are truly optimistic for online marketing agencies: over 80% of the exhibitors communicate with their customers through social media.  The Future Laboratory also points out a potential conflict of interests between luxury hotels and tour operators and travel agencies: the latter show the signs of worry that hotels might easily bypass them leaving them jobless. The results turned out to be counter-intuitive and left the fears groundless. According to the data gathered by the Future Laboratory: « 55% of buyers told The Future Laboratory that social media has increased their business – more than four times as many as those who say it hasn’t. »*

Here are a few examples of creative approach to social presence by the luxury travel market leaders*:
– In the Garden Court Hotel in California’s Silicon Valley guests receive recommendations for the best iPhone apps to download, tweets of the day and the best locations in Palo Alto to check into on Foursquare.

– Four Seasons Hotels’ new website encourages guests to see what former guests
are saying about its properties on TripAdvisor, Twitter and Facebook.

– Viceroy, Standard and Thompson reward guests with cocktails, spa treatments and free rooms for virtual check-ins via Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter.

– The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples ask their Facebook fans how they like their coffee. Fans who answer the question and then stay at their resort receive a coffee delivered to their exact specifications – without ever having to ask.

– Fairmont Hotels offers social media-exclusive discount room prices.

– Hotel Seven in Paris goes one step further by using Facebook as the exclusive
source of both hotel news and the lowest available room rate.

*Source: “Luxury Futures: A Global Snapshot of New and Emerging Trends in the Luxury Travel Market” by the Future Laboratory