Opinion: Immersive brand experiences to transform luxury travel?

    Brand resort takeovers are driving the impending revolution in luxury travel. Why do they work so well, and what do brands and hotels gain from them?
    Jacquemus unveiled a new boutique, restaurant, and beach pop-up in Saint-Tropez this summer. Image: Jacquemus
    Kristoff D’oria di CirieContributor
      Published   in Travel

    The sun-drenched coast of Saint-Tropez, a playground for the rich and famous, is no stranger to luxury. But this summer, something extraordinary is happening. Amidst the pristine white sands and turquoise waters, an iconic fashion house is weaving its magic, transforming a renowned resort into an immersive brand experience like no other.

    Welcome to the world of brand resort takeovers, where the boundaries between luxury travel and high-end retail blur, creating an enchanting universe that captivates the imagination. From the moment you step into the resort, you’re enveloped in the essence of the brand — the colors, the textures, the scents — all meticulously curated to transport you into a realm of unparalleled sophistication.

    Jacquemus is one of several luxury brands hosting pop-up experiences in Saint-Tropez this summer. Image: Jacquemus
    Jacquemus is one of several luxury brands hosting pop-up experiences in Saint-Tropez this summer. Image: Jacquemus

    This is not merely a vacation; it’s a journey into the very heart of a brand. It’s a chance to live and breathe the lifestyle that the brand embodies, to immerse yourself in its story, and to create memories that will last a lifetime.

    Takeovers of brand resorts are driving the impending revolution in luxury travel. With these fully immersive experiences, which are painstakingly created by well-known fashion houses and lifestyle companies, visitors have an unmatched chance to experience a brand’s core.

    From Dior’s sophisticated Dioriviera pop-ups in Saint-Tropez to Valentino’s ethereal Escape activation on the Amalfi Coast, these takeovers are reinventing what luxury travel means.

    Benefits of resort takeovers#

    Why do these partnerships work so well? Simply put, they provide a novel perspective on a stale market. True distinction has been severely limited by the standardization of the luxury hospitality formula. But hybrid retail offers a respectable substitute, particularly in the slower off-season months.

    Retailers find these partnerships appealing as well. With the rising issue of counterfeit products, the growth of secondhand and resale fashion, and the ongoing challenge of retaining customers, hybrid retail provides a tempting way to draw in new businesses and engage current ones. Unique experiences are becoming more important to customers than owning expensive products.

    There is fascinating psychology behind this tendency. According to research, new experiences activate the “novelty center” of the brain, which releases dopamine and increases pleasure and reward sensations. Brand resort takeovers provide an ideal opportunity to create lasting, positive memories because tourists are more likely to try new things and worry less about their spending while on vacation.

    Last summer, Valentino brought branded umbrellas, sun loungers, and changing rooms to Palazzo Avino. Image: Valentino
    Last summer, Valentino brought branded umbrellas, sun loungers, and changing rooms to Palazzo Avino. Image: Valentino

    Still, it goes beyond the actual event. These partnerships offer a valuable opportunity to attract new and ambitious clients.

    Previously, luxury brands relied on markdown diffusion lines to increase the accessibility of their products. However, this strategy often resulted in lower-quality goods, which could damage brand reputations. Now, through unwavering quality and creative brand experiences, hybrid retail enables brands to reactivate dormant consumers and introduce themselves to new ones.

    Elevating luxury experiences#

    Deeper integration of hotels and brands holds great promise. Imagine suites with well-branded everything, including toiletries and linens. This, coupled with branded events such as fashion shows, wellness retreats, and culinary events, creates a recipe for lifelong memories.

    Partnerships can even go beyond the resort’s walls; branded city experiences, for example, provide carefully chosen tours and first access to nearby venues and events.

    There is a strong economic argument for hybrid retail. In most industries, the customer experience is an important competitive differentiator, with 74% of consumers more likely to make purchases based solely on their experiences. Offering branded experiences can also significantly increase hotel revenue as luxury travelers seek unique experiences and high-end accommodations.

    Louis Vuitton returns to Saint-Tropez this summer to open a pop-up café. Image: Louis Vuitton
    Louis Vuitton returns to Saint-Tropez this summer to open a pop-up café. Image: Louis Vuitton

    These partnerships ultimately foster greater brand loyalty because visitors who interact with a brand in such a personal and immersive setting are likely to form a closer emotional bond.

    Execution presents difficulties, of course. A smooth experience requires that the hotel and the brand share a similar vision and ethos; thus, authenticity and alignment between the brands are essential.

    Another challenge is striking a balance between accessibility and exclusivity, as it is crucial to maintain exclusivity while attracting a large audience. Additionally, determining ROI and impact is important; hotels and brands must establish precise benchmarks to assess the success of their collaboration.

    The future of luxury travel#

    Notwithstanding these difficulties, hybrid experiences are where luxury travel and retail are headed. These alliances will probably have an impact on the broader luxury sector as they spread, raising the bar for guest involvement and experiential marketing.

    By creating unique “storyliving” experiences that fully immerse visitors in the brand’s aesthetics and way of life, luxury brands can profit from the “Emily in Paris” effect. There are many other ways to work together as well, such as hosting tech demos and temporary art galleries or focusing on sustainability initiatives

    Those who innovate and collaborate will be at the forefront as the luxury market continues to evolve. By embracing the transformative potential of brand resort takeovers and hybrid retail experiences, luxury hotels and brands can establish new standards for industry excellence and unlock new opportunities.

    For those prepared to venture outside the conventional lines of upscale travel and shopping, the future is promising, and the benefits are immeasurable.

    Kristoff Doria di Cirie is an experiential retail expert and the founder of Insogni Studio, specializing in brand experience and retail design. With over a decade of expertise, he boasts a proven track record in transforming physical spaces into captivating brand experiences, driving key performance metrics like increased dwell time and earned media. All opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.

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