Luxury Travel-PH&R’s Robert Van Ness: “In our Florida Campaign, we targeted High Intent Consumers and Saw a Dramatic Increase in Revenue”

What: Portada talked to Robert Van Ness, Executive Vice President of Americas Preferred Hotels & Resorts about the luxury brand’s marketing strategies.
Why it matters: Preferred Hotels & Resorts has over 650 hotels in 80 different countries, each one of them is marketed as an independent brand.

According to a study published by global travel technology provider Amadeus in 2016, luxury travel saw a 4.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), versus 4.2% for overall travel, between 2011 and 2015. Luxury travel is defined as  outbound flights on business or first class. This trend is expected to keep growing towards 2025 at a CAGR of 6.2%, almost a third faster than overall travel at 4.8%. Preferred Hotels & Resorts  is an organization catering to the Luxury Travel segment. It  was founded by 12 North American hoteliers in 1968, originating as a referral organization for hotels, under the name Preferred Hotels Association. Today the organization has the world’s finest luxury hotels and resorts with an extensive global collection representing more than 85 countries. Preferred Hotels & Resorts does not own, operate, or manage any of the hotels within its portfolio. All of the hotels, resorts, and serviced residences within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio are independent entities. The organization’s quality standards are measured by yearly anonymous on-site inspections and real-time quality assessment scores pulled from social media sites. We talked to Robert Van Ness, Executive Vice President of Americas Preferred Hotels & Resorts (photo), a key decision maker for Preferred Hotels & Resorts Marketing.

Portada: What marketing challenges do luxury hotel brands, like yours, face today?
Robert Van Ness:
 “With the proliferation of brands globally, it is important to maintain your core identity. For any brand, a critical key to success is maintaining authenticity and originality.”

Portada: Which marketing platforms work best for you to reach your customers? Why?
RVN: “
Digital marketing efforts such as display banner ads, PPC, social media, and email marketing campaigns. Because everything is trackable, therefore every media dollar is spent responsibly; the media can be targeted based on other traveler purchases (e.g. the ability to target a traveler who has booked an airline flight and not yet a hotel); A/B testing can be performed on creative. From a mass marketing perspective, we invest heavily in display and some PPC. From a direct marketing side, we develop and execute a lot of email campaigns throughout the year – these are particularly effective since our audience is very engaged with our brand.”

Portada: Can you mention an example of a successful campaign you’ve done recently?
 “An example would be our Florida / Caribbean regional campaign. By targeting high-intent consumers and capitalizing on peak booking times with a relevant message and strong offer, we saw a dramatic increase in revenue. Utilizing highly targeted tactics such as consumer search behavior on TripAdvisor and Sojern’s airline booking behavior allowed us to garner a large ROI.”

Portada: What marketing trends are you seeing in the luxury hotel market?
‘Book direct’ campaigns continue to be a major trend that many luxury hotel companies are pushing and/or adopting.”

Portada: Why do you believe they are (or will be) successful?
“Building a relationship with our guests and iPrefer members is important to their embracing the brand, and our hotels.  Some may think they cannot find independent, distinctive hotels AND a loyalty program.”

Portada: Which marketing agencies do you work with in the Americas?
 “Hyperdisk, as well as notable industry leaders such as AdRoll for retargeting, TripAdvisor for regional targeting, Quantcast for demand generation, Sojern, DerbySoft for meta search management.”