World Wise

The Lux­ury Quo­tient: How do you de­fine the in­ef­fa­ble?

Business Traveler (USA) - - IN­SIDE - By Ross Atkin­son

Chang­ing times of­ten re­quire us to re-ex­am­ine the sim­plest of terms – case in point: What is the def­i­ni­tion of lux­ury? In some so­cial cir­cles, there’s an on­go­ing de­bate about how to de­fine lux­ury. This ques­tion is com­ing from many peo­ple and brands that have been serv­ing the lux­ury travel mar­ket for a num­ber of years. It’s not a de­bate that is ge­o­graphic in na­ture, or based on a pop­u­la­tion of vary­ing de­grees of so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus, or even a dis­par­ity among in­dus­tries.

It’s a fun­da­men­tal ques­tion. And peo­ple are seek­ing a sim­ple def­i­ni­tion to ex­plain it.

To the il­lus­trate the vast dif­fer­ences in how peo­ple in­ter­pret the term, I have pulled ex­cerpts from the de­bate. Here are sev­eral short takes that ex­em­plify the var­i­ous re­sponses: Lux­ury is de­liv­er­ing the un­ex­pected and above ex­pacta­tions. If you man­age that, you win the guests’ rec­om­men­da­tions and their loy­alty. It's about mak­ing a guest feel spe­cial - through ser­vices,

sur­round­ings and ex­pe­ri­ences. Lux­ury is of­fer­ing dif­fer­en­tia­tors that scream " we care ' and we value your pa­tron­age. Lux­ury, to a large de­gree, is in the eye of the be­holder. Ul­ti­mately, it comes down to what the guest sees as lux­ury and that de­pends on what that guest is ac­cus­tomed to. If his house has lux­u­ri­ous car­pets, chan­de­liers and plush fur­nish­ings then mod­est fur­nish­ings sim­ply won’t im­press. If she reg­u­larly dines in up­scale restau­rants, your white table­cloths and fine china will be viewed as a norm.

Lux­ury is a feel­ing: The feel­ing that you are the cen­ter of the staff’s at­ten­tion, you are be­ing no­ticed, your opin­ion mat­ters and you are go­ing to be re­mem­bered.

Lux­ury also de­mands con­stant vig­i­lance. Since ser­vice de­liv­ery is part of the mag­i­cal for­mula, peo­ple who pro­vide that hu­man touch play a crit­i­cal role. Peo­ple who rec­og­nize a need and fill it with that some­thing ex­tra, and thereby demon­strate it was the most im­por­tant thing they had to do in that mo­ment for that guest. De­liv­er­ing guest ex­pe­ri­ences with en­chant­ment adds to the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of lux­ury.

Web­ster’s Dic­tionary de­fines lux­ury as “some­thing that is help­ful or wel­come and that is not usu­ally avail­able. ”But I think there are as­pects of lux­ury that are even broader than Web­ster’s def­i­ni­tion. The sin­gle most com­pelling com­ment – the one I truly ap­pre­ci­ate – is: “Lux­ury is a state of be­ing.”

I am a big be­liever that lux­ury is the blend of your phys­i­cal sur­round­ings, feel­ings from in­ter­ac­tions, the arousal of the five senses and the over­all emo­tional con­nec­tion that stim­u­lates a sense of self that is greater than ev­ery­day life. BT

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