Leaders of Luxury 2019: 'Mainstream brands should not misuse the luxury label'

An increasing number of travel sellers are mis-categorising their product as luxury, according to the boss of Abercrombie and Kent.

The tour operator’s managing director Kerry Golds accused mainstream brands of marketing their product as high-end without correct understanding of what the term meant.

She insisted more care needs to be exercised to ensure customers’ expectations are met. 

“There are a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon,” she said.

“There are a lot of people who believe by putting luxury at the beginning of a term and putting a high price point [on the product], it means it’s luxury and it really isn’t.

"Ultimately, luxury is really defining and understanding what your clients’ needs are and delivering against that brand promise and to really do that you’ve got to have the knowledge and the people, both through the point of sale and at the destination.”

In a session discussing growth and acquisition, Golds said the rise of digital bookings and online marketing has made it easier for brands to target the luxury market.

However, she said she understood the allure for mainstream brands to move into the sector.

“Global sales for luxury product have been increasing in the last 10 years quite substantially - you’re talking about over $200 billion worth of global product sold annually,” she said.

“There’s certainly a lot of people who want to go into the luxury sector.”

Belmond’s chief executive Roeland Vos agreed, adding: “I agree with you fully that [luxury] is not just a word that you tag on.”

However, other industry leaders challenged the claim.

Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni’s parent company Der Touristik UK, tweeted: “If all it takes to hijack the category is a ‘luxury’ label then the luxury sector needs to work harder to demonstrate that it’s more than just a label.”

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