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Posted February 4, 2016

lifestyle branding

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Take a moment to consider the array of accommodation options available to today’s travelers. No one has to settle for the traditional, timeless, classically “vanilla” lodging experience when there are flashier alternatives at nearly every turn—if that’s what they’re looking for, anyway.

That’s because hoteliers are getting in on the power of lifestyle branding: connecting their properties’ brands to their customers’ values and ever-changing preferences.

According to the industry gurus at Skift, lifestyle branding is among the hottest trends in travel. So much so that they’ve named it one of the Megatrends Defining Travel in 2015. Let’s learn more about what’s sure to keep defining the marketplace for years to come:

Q: What is a lifestyle brand?

A: Generally speaking, it’s a brand that offers a means of self-expression for its customers. It embodies their interests, attitudes, and opinions, seeking to inspire, guide, and motivate. It aligns with the consumer’s way of life and supports the furthering of their ideals: who they are and who they want to be.

In the travel industry specifically, industry expert The Highland Group defines lifestyle brands as prescribed franchised products that are adapted to reflect current trends.

Q: What characterizes a lifestyle brand in, say, accommodations?

A: Lifestyle brands in the lodging sector tend to:

  • Appeal to visitors’ preferred aesthetics; design-centric
  • Cater to travelers who are interested in boutique lodging
  • Serve guests seeking mid-scale or luxury accommodations
  • Feature a lounge and dining options
  • Offer small meeting spaces

Q: Why now?

  1. Reporting on a study by The Highland Group, HotelNewsNow.com reveals that the lifestyle brand segment has seen demand grow at an annual average pace of nearly 20% from 2009 through 2014, compared to U.S. overall hotel demand growth of 4.2%.

By “standing for something”—be that a commitment to guests’ quest for wellness, their appetite for art and discovery, or for their desire to experience the glamour of urban chic—properties are driving customer engagement, loyalty, and sales. They’re differentiating in a widely commoditized market. And it’s working.

Q: How are established hotel brands meeting this new customer demand?

A: As discussed in the Skift 2015 trends report, global hotel corporations are creating new brands to capitalize on peoples’ need for more customized accommodations. Examples include Hilton’s “positive stay” Canopy, Best Western’s oceanfront Vb, and Marriot’s cutting-edge Moxy.

These companies are using savvy marketing strategies to promote their lifestyle brands and create the experience their guests are looking for. Tactics include digital and social media campaigns, hosting special events at properties, leveraging influencers to create buzz, and selling branded products to extend guests’ experience beyond their stay.

Q: How does this information apply to payments?

A: Surprisingly, this topic applies to payments more than you might think. Payment types, like AMEX and Diners Club, have been focused on lifestyle branding for decades. The AMEX Gold card was the innovator for lifestyle branding in payments.

Now, we see hotels realizing that their payment strategies need to be more customer-centric – allowing a guest to pay in their home currencies with their locally preferred payment methods.

For more on serving today’s travelers with customer-centric strategies, explore It’s All About Me: Personalization in Leisure Travel and Hotel Brands Hustle to Attract Today’s Business Traveler.

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