Up and Down the Luxury Road

John McMahon

 

The pep is back in the step. As far as I can see, that is. As I sit down to write this column, the Dow just passed over 11,000 points and luxury travel advisors are reporting positive booking trends—giddy and enthusiastic have replaced wary and glum. Suppliers are bragging as well about double-digit growth. They are even prone to compare 2010 to 2008, skipping over last year entirely. We’re seeing it too. Our April issue of Luxury Travel Advisor was our largest issue ever. Fingers remain crossed.

The question being asked is, “Where will this trend take us? Will we see a hangover from the pent-up demand?” It’s very simple: as long as the stock market continues to rise and retirement funds show growth, consumers will dig back into their pockets. Conversely, the hand retreats and spending halts when there is slippage or no growth at all.

Second question, “How can you control it?” It’s easy. Be quick and react with your marketing to take advantage of the positive news. Stay consistent with your message. If you fly high, you are going to fall hard, and luxury travel has proven that theory time and again.

As you navigate this slippery slope, stay with the tried and true. I recently visited the newly opened St. Regis Deer Crest in Park City, UT. This resort is amazing, particularly its location atop the Aspen-covered slopes of the Wasatch Mountains. Here, you actually ski down to hit the slopes.

It was a neat feeling to sit in a hot tub while enjoying a cocktail and watching skiers whiz by. I felt as if I was on a ship in a sea of snow. Michael Hatzfeld (michael.hatzfeld@stregis.com) is the general manager and he is the one to take care of your VIPs’ needs. By far, he is one of the most hands-on GMs I’ve ever come across. After booking this splendid hotel—with or without snow—it will all be downhill.