Amid a softening upscale hotel market in the U.S., Starwood is launching its first branding campaign for its Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts. The portfolio includes 65 of the world's finest resorts in 26 countries.
Print ads, breaking in August magazines, tell affluent consumers "Life is a collection of experiences. Let us be your guide." Bora Bora, Italy and popular North American scenery are shown in three separate ads. Atmosphere BBDO, New York, handles.
The move comes at a time when the luxury hotel segment is experiencing some unforeseen softness. Smith Travel Research, Hendersonville, Tenn., which tracks hotel performance, earlier this year forecasted "that luxury hotels would be able to maintain pricing power well above the level of inflation," said vp Jan Freitag. However this prediction hasn't held true.
Through May, the average daily rate at U.S. luxury hotels increased 3.2% (or roughly at the same rate as inflation). This is a steep drop from December's 6.9% rate. "Luxury hotels had a very good couple of years. We were suggesting that would continue," Freitag said. "The pricing power we had suggested is not as strong year-to-date."
Occupancy is down 1.6%, but that is more of a function of increased inventory, he said.
Still, Phil McAverty, chief brand officer at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, New York, said in a statement, "For today's affluent global explorer, the Luxury Collection is the curator of extra ordinary destination experiences where nothing less than an exceptional level of service, perfect location and indigenous personal offerings will do."
A new Luxurycollection.com site was launched July 8 to convey this message. It offers expert travel advice, photography from the National Geographic Image Collection and global cultural calendar so travelers know what events are happening where.