Comment: Jasman Ahmad, Accord Marketing

Jasman Ahmad has worked at Accord Marketing since September 2015, starting as account director and working his way up to his current title of strategy director. Prior to that he worked at Conrad Advertising for five years.

This is, and isn’t, the year we hoped it would be. Although the road ahead looks Covid-free, there are new cost-of-living bumps getting in the way.

As wider consumer confidence hits record lows, we have to ask ourselves, what has happened to people’s perception of luxury? How can travel brands cement themselves as true luxury during uncertain economic times and amid a heightened intent to escape from it all?

The truth is, most ultra-rich luxury chasers still have the disposable income to travel in style. The luxury experience category is having a moment of glory as people realise the importance of lasting memories over material items.

Expectations are higher, however. The pandemic put a halt on holidays, so there is a unanimous feeling of making up for lost time and a sense of ‘I deserve it’. But if the mainstream holidaymaker is willing to go above and beyond, what does that mean for the luxury market?

Redefining luxury will help honest luxury brands stand their ground and entice those consumers who are saving themselves for companies that share their values and expectations.

This starts with recognising there is a difference between luxury and premium. Luxury is bigger than destination, flight or accommodation – it is an overarching feeling of timelessness and of a story, a sense of scarcity not found elsewhere.

Premium brands, on the other hand, are defined by a more black-and-white approach, where people pay extra for a better-quality product.

Premium tends to push the sell in its advertising, while luxury’s elevated and more subtle style seeks to educate, feeding the magic of desire.

That subtlety speaks volumes: it’s about brands that don’t feel the need to use the word luxury to sell luxury, or to wholly solve consumers’ problems. The goal is less about saying something different, and more about saying something in a different way.

That distinctiveness comes from identity and heritage, from humble beginnings and a genuine care for why you do what you do – and when that’s used in the right way, your brand will spring to mind faster than the competition.

Today, luxury travel is more than just that feeling of not having to lift a finger; a key motivator for luxury travellers is personal growth and celebrating milestones.

Any company can provide the relaxation factor, but it’s those personal touches and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will enable one brand to rise above another.