In the third and final in our series of marketing guides for luxury service providers, (you can see parts one and two here) we look at the culmination of the preparation and planning- the execution. We consider how you can engage with your chosen segments in a way that is meaningful.
In the digital age, customers’ pre, present and post purchase behaviour has changed considerably; they have access to significant amounts of information not only from service providers themselves, but from other customers, forums, and review sites, and have increasing trust in these recommendations from past customers. Given the (often) high involvement, risk and emotion inherently linked with luxury service provision, booking a restaurant for an important celebration, a hotel for a special anniversary, travel for a family break, it is easy to understand the need for reassurance before booking, and in the absence of a review or recommendation from a source personally known, the potential customer reaches out to the community at large. It is not enough for you to develop your story and put it out there, customers expect engagement and a two way communication process that enriches their purchase and consumption experience.
Use your communications to enhance customer experience from the outset, give potential customers an opportunity to get to know your provision and your staff. Talk about the service, of course, but also other relevant topics that are of interest to your target audience(s). If you are open and engaged at pre purchase stage, your potential customer is more likely to place their trust in you with an expectation that this relationship will only improve and develop as you get to know each other better.
It is asserted in marketing that when individuals invest emotionally, such as with many luxury purchase decisions, they are likely to want to contribute and create value. This requires a change of mind-set, from thinking of customers as passive audiences to active players; ensure this is the basis for your communications, indeed, for the entire customer experience. Encouraging hotel guests to share their best pictures from their stay, asking luxury train passengers to link up on social as they set out to travel with you; the likely emotional attachment to your luxury brand which you encourage through customer experience management means that your guests are highly motivated to engage with you, you just need to give them the opportunity.
A note on communication methods; ensure your methods fit in with your chosen segments. Younger segments are more likely to rely on videos pre purchase, but there will be characteristics intrinsic to each. Make sure your methods are varied and suitable, and work across platforms.
And so our marketing guide series concludes, we have looked at preparation, planning and execution and you should now be fully equipped for the journey, with differentiation, positive customer experience and guest engagement as your constant travel partners. We wish you well.
By Paul Russell, Director, Luxury Academy London