|In Mayakoba: I’m just back from Mexico’s Riviera Maya, where I got to explore a great mixture of luxury hotels. I’m shown here at the Fairmont Mayakoba in the Chef’s Garden. Watch for my reports in future issues.|
Since our feature on Starwood Hotels & Resorts appeared in the May issue of Luxury Travel Advisor, I’ve had several comments about the term “YOLO”—“You only live once.” This is the term that Paul James, the global brand leader for Starwood’s luxury brands, uses for today’s traveling youth—the ones that are going to stay in luxury hotels now because who knows what tomorrow will bring?
I had never heard of the term YOLO until Paul mentioned it. When I brought it up to a few of the younger folks in the office, they said that of course they’d heard it, but quickly clarified that they don’t go around saying “YOLO!” all the time as an excuse for seizing the day and acting without a thought for the future.
I recall that prior to the recession there was an affluent youth wave; jetsetting Wall Streeters willing to fly off for a long weekend to the latest hot hotel, as long as there was a flight that would get them there. That group appears to have risen again, but from what Paul says about the YOLO crowd, they’re no longer looking to just party by the rooftop pool of a slick boutique hotel. These individuals now want to experience the classic hotels, too. They want to sit in the lobby of The Gritti Palace or Villa d’Este because they don’t want to save what’s acclaimed as “the best of the best” for when they’ve had kids, put them through college and somehow become financially solvent again.
So, how do you get to this group of 20-somethings? I attended Ataway Exchange, a digital marketing conference last month, which shelled out numerous tips on how to reach consumers in a world filled with digital clutter. In one of the sessions, Ben Arnon, VP of global brand partnerships for Wildfire, which is owned by Google, referred to this group as “Generation C.” This is the crowd that’s coming of age now and they’re dubbed “Gen C” because in their online world, they’re all about “creating, curating, connecting and communicating.” To them, it’s all about content, which is available to them in vast abundance in the online world; in fact, that’s the world they grew up in.
Content in this case can mean a myriad of things, from great web postings to YouTube videos to travel photos. Arnon advises that if travel marketers can develop content that these consumers can piggyback off of, their content will go viral, since Gen C is all about connecting with others with curated content. (By the way, don’t forget about YouTube, in fact, be sure you have your own channel of travel videos.)
Arnon also recommends having an “always on” strategy, which will appeal to a younger audience. He gave the example of the Oscars, which occur once a year. The Academy decided, however, that it wanted to keep the buzz about the awards show going all year-round and it did so by running contests on Facebook and YouTube. With those efforts, viewership in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic went up 20 percent when the Oscars were last televised.
For luxury travel advisors, this could mean keeping the buzz about your clients’ vacation going for the entire period prior to the trip by sending them videos, photos and online snippets about the places they’re going to visit. It can also be about keeping the excitement about you alive all year long, even if your clients don’t currently have a trip planned. Be sure that you have a great Facebook page for them to follow that will keep them excited about their next venture with you. Be sure as well that you’re making it easy for them to share comments with you and your other fans by encouraging them to upload comments, photos and videos. Remember, this is a group that wants to share. And besides, the more user-generated content you have, the better, since it will provide your page with an air of authenticity.