If anyone knows what’s on the minds of luxury travelers it’s Pam Danziger. For almost 30 years, Pam has been at the forefront of luxury culture, studying the brand preferences, shopping habits, and attitudes of the world’s most influential consumers.
As a luxury market expert, Pam is internationally recognized for her expertise and is frequently called on to share her research-based insights with business leaders all over the world. She is also a contributing columnist to The Robin Report and Forbes.com.
In recent years, Pam’s research has revealed changing attitudes among luxury consumers, particularly in the younger generation (sometimes called HENRYs). In her latest book, Meet the HENRYs: Millennials that Matter Most to Luxury Brands, she explores what brands need to do if they want to stay relevant with these up and coming consumers.
I was fortunate enough to interview Pam about HENRYs and their travel preferences.
Q: You’ve done a lot of research on HENRYs (High Earners Not Rich Yet). Can you explain a little about this demographic and why they are such a lucrative market for travel and leisure brands?
A: HENRYs are the next generation of luxury consumers. One rung below the ultra-affluents, with household income between $100k-$249.9k as compared with ultra-affluents with incomes $250k+, HENRYs have more spending power than ~75% of the rest of the country. What's more, with their higher levels of education and young age, many HENRYs are leaning into their careers and will grow into ultra-affluent levels of income as they mature.
Luxury brands overlook HENRYs at their peril. While not all HENRYs will reach ultra-affluent levels of income, most ultra-affluents start out as HENRYs. This is the generation luxury brands need to connect with, and the earlier the better.
Q: When it comes to travel & leisure, what are HENRYs looking for?
A: HENRYs are adventurous and looking for real and authentic travel experiences. That explains the rapid rise of AirBnB. Rather than staying in some gated five-star resort, they want to experience a travel destination like the locals do.
HENRYs are also great learners and will want to learn local history and the backstory about places they visit. For HENRYs you want to help them go deep into the local community, rather than give them a shallow overview of what's available.
Q: What can travel & leisure brands do to appeal to HENRYs? How should they go about marketing to them?
A: InterContinental recently did a study among ~7,000 global travelers and found that they want to experience a travel destination like a "well-informed local,' which gives hospitality brands an opportunity to act as a local guide to bring unique experiences forward so that their guests can have such experiences. And those experiences don't have to be "luxury" in the common sense of the word. The opportunity to enjoy a fresh cut bagel in a hole-in-the-wall Brooklyn deli or have a pint in a British pub with a fire roaring in the fireplace are those kind of authentic experiences that will help make memories for their guests.
But also revealed in the research is that travelers also don't want to miss the notable tourist attractions when they visit. This offers an opportunity to give guests behind-the-scenes access to these destinations so that HENRYs can bypass the crowds and get a personal guided tour.
Q: Has your research unearthed any trends in the luxury market that travel brands should know about?
A: The most profound trend in luxury is that its very definition has changed. Luxury is no longer defined by brands or designers or taste masters. HENRYs define luxury on their own terms and based upon their personal values. The opinions of others are not the influencers they once were. All luxury service providers need to work at understanding their customers, what draws them to your service and what matters most to them.
Q: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to travel brands—especially small, boutique brands—if they want to win more bookings in 2020 and beyond?
A: My best piece of advice is not to push your brand or your destination on to guests, but rather pull them in with curiosity-inspiring invitations that make it clear that you understand what your guests want and how to deliver it to them. HENRYs have been marketed to since they were babies. They can smell a marketing pitch a mile away. Rather than just market your brand, you need to draw them to you with messages that really mean something to them. Your messages must clearly communicate why yours is the place to stay, not just a list of what you have on offer. You need to communicate your meaning and that comes through with stories.
Thank you, Pam, for sharing your expertise with us today. Be sure to check out all of her books here.