LHW is a membership-based, representation firm for a consortium of five-star luxury boutique hotels. They assist membership with everything from sales and marketing to distribution and technology, but each unique property is privately owned and managed. In fact, each member hotel is also a shareholder in LHW; at the end of the day, all profits of LHW are reinvested in their luxury hotel members.
Benjamin Collier is Senior Director for Brand Marketing. He explains, “We’ve always marketed to travel agents, and have very well- established relationships in that market. They are still over 50% of our business. But the travel landscape is changing: consumers are growing in importance.”
Consumers in every industry are doing more research online and bypassing the middleman, nowhere more than in the travel and hospitality sectors. “This makes life for us more challenging,” notes Collier. “We need to get involved with the consumer at an earlier stage, and provide more educational marketing.”
As a marketer negotiating this changing landscape, Collier realized he knew little about the consumers who make up 30% to 40% of their business. “We can’t define who we want to reach, and how we can engage them, until we understand who our current customers are,” he explains. LHW has limited data on its customer base, primarily name, address and which property they are staying with.
LHW partnered with WealthEngine to analyze and profile the LHW customer base. With a routine screening of their Loyalty Club membership — individuals who pay up to $1200 per year for membership benefits — they uncovered this key segment’s true attributes, including age, business ownership, leisure activities, and interests such as golf, skiing, wine or the environment.
The whole idea of the concierge experience that LHW’s discriminating customer seeks is being translated into marketing. “The luxury experience for the customer begins earlier – with the marketing,” explains Collier, “so we’re now practicing a kind of ‘concierge marketing,’ more personalized, more individual. Competition in the luxury travel space is fierce. Those who are personalizing more, interacting more, delivering more and really know their customers and prospects are going to be the winners.”
The analysis provided by WealthEngine resulted in a report that LHW used to ground their planning and strategy. “We had no idea who our best customers really were. This report gave us external clarity to inform our segmentations, and we’re using it to build a brand strategy,” explains Collier. Among the report findings:
- While total spending in the past three years for all customers across all net worth ranges was relatively stable, the reservation rate, or number of reservations per household, spiked significantly in the $1MM to $5MM net worth range, indicating a strong opportunity to stimulate this group to spend more.
- The top three most popular sports for LHW customers are boating/sailing, hunting/shooting, and golf, making the places frequented by these enthusiasts some of the best places for acquiring new prospects and customers.
- Less than 1% of LHW customers are interested in skiing, scuba diving, snowboarding and water sports, while 6% are interested in tennis and 2% equestrian pursuits. Depending on the activity mix of LHW properties, this may indicate sub markets that have not been fully penetrated.
- LHW customers are 3 to 4 times more likely to be business owners than the general population. This means they are more likely to book their travel independently of corporate travel brokers and represent considerable opportunity for niche marketing to this important group.
Based on the profile of current LHW customers, WealthEngine developed a scorecard model to rank prospects for similarity to top customers. A custom SmartProspectSM List was then generated with prospects who ranked highest using the model scores. These are potential customers who most closely match the profile of current LHW top customers and represent completely new names to LHW.
Along with the research findings and prospect list, WealthEngine was able to deliver analytically derived insights to drive strategies in the areas of customer acquisition, customer retention, increased sales (upsells), and communications.
LHW has gained invaluable insights from the profiling of their customer base, which they are using to develop solid lead generation and brand strategies. With the SmartProspect List, they will soon deploy an email campaign to help them on their way to acquiring 100K to 200K new prospects and customers in the coming 12 months. Collier also has plans to integrate WealthEngine’s wealth intelligence and lifestyle data in real time directly into the organization’s CRM. “Our plans envision an agent on the phone with a prospect, pulling up their profile, learning that he is in an income bracket that would allow considerable additional spending, and that he likes golf or sailing. Based on that real time intelligence, the agent can personalize the marketing/sales conversation in a very relevant way. That is the genesis of this concept of ‘concierge marketing.’”
Collier believes the investment in data, analytics and prospecting he has initiated with WealthEngine is just the beginning. “The value of knowing more is frankly, invaluable,” he explains. “And for us it will be an ongoing process. The customer profile isn’t static, it’s changing over time. We want to track how it is changing and the influence our campaigns and strategies are having. Has our mix changed? Which demographics are growing or shrinking? What lifestyle interests are trending?”