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Bespoke & Bona Fide: Travel’s New Sensibility

Boutique luxury hotels like Monteverdi Tuscany embody experience branding at its best—here’s why.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve said that travel is the highest form of living. Today, after having the privilege of working on several luxury boutique hotels, I can also say that travel is one of the highest forms of branding.

With more and more consumers choosing experiences over objects, and even more people craving an escape from stress, social media and the everyday grind, travel is on the rise. Time spent taking off, turning off and tuning out is seen as both luxury and necessity these days. And with precious time away, consumers are just as intentional about where they stay as to where they go. Not surprisingly, as we see trending in many categories, consumers are bypassing the big guys—from department stores to grocery stores to hotels—for more authentic, bespoke experiences.

Travel is one of the highest forms of branding. 

And when it comes to bespoke, what’s more enticing than an entire village in Tuscany, catered to your every whim? It’s the stuff dreams are made of. And the day Monteverdi Tuscany crossed my desk here at LPK was, indeed, the very thing I had been daydreaming about. As a self-proclaimed travel junkie, avid magazine reader and lover of all things Italy, immersing myself in Monteverdi to pen their brand strategy, print ads and promotional video was a beautiful vacation—even while hard at work.

These are the kinds of experiences that change the way consumers travel and choose hotels for good. 

Along with Monteverdi Tuscany, I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans and the Hotel Covington in Greater Cincinnati. With hotels like these, you’re not just staying there; you’re living, learning and soaking up culture there. Sure you’re escaping, but you’re also arriving, enriching and when you check out, you leave a little different. They’re creating experiences that are distinctive, meaningful and forever memorable—the kinds of experiences that change the way consumers travel and choose hotels for good. These luxury boutique destinations are doing so many things right. Brands across the board—from CPGs to financial services—should take note. Below, four key takeaways on how to craft a brand experience that stuns.

Own who you are and why you’re different
Boutique hotels have a unique reason for being, and they tell it proudly. Whether born from the winnings of a horse bet or like Monteverdi, risen from the ashes of an ancient medieval village, it’s the story, purpose and passion behind who you are that makes you special. Own it. Tell it. And be it in every way possible.

The difference is the details
To create a bespoke experience, create meaningful touches—from the way things look to the way they feel. The moment you arrive at Monteverdi’s website, you’re immersed in tactile elements through video: the old stonework of its walls, the wildflowers blossoming from their cracks. It translates to the in-person experience as well: from the artwork on the wall to the ingredients in the dish; and in Hotel Covington’s case, the very paper clip that accompanies your bill, every detail matters. They add to the overall feeling, emotion and impression of your brand.

Elevate, elevate, elevate
In every touchpoint, every medium, every post, show up spectacularly. Create and elevate your experience at every intersection your consumer finds you. Let your photography draw people in and sweep them away. Capture your personality with copy. Make your assets and brand world intentional, beautiful and undeniably you. The effect? Even when your consumers aren’t physically with you, they sure would like to be.

Make your guests your greatest advocates
Great reviews go a long way, and in the world of social media, they should be an official component of your communication strategy. Just like any savvy consumer, a savvy traveler does their homework. What people read about you matters, and what people say about you, well, travels. The fact that Monteverdi is ranked #1 in specialty lodging on TripAdvisor with 98% favorable reviews speaks volumes. When you make your experience that amazing, your consumers do the marketing for you.

Want to start a deeper conversation about world travel, hospitality branding—or both? Reach out to me at kristi.murnahan@lpk.com. And for more insights and ideas, follow LPK on Twitter at @lpk.

Kristi Murnahan is a creative director at LPK, where she crafts strategies and stories for global brands that range from beauty to wine to music. She’s also a published writer, avid concert-goer and self-proclaimed travel junkie, having visited every state but Alaska and every continent but Antarctica. Talk writing, wine or wanderlust with her at kristi.murnahan@lpk.com.

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