Operations

Survival Lesson #3: Living for Good Times

Posted on January 7, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

With so much media chatter about consumer cutbacks, I thought we should remind ourselves of one market segment that actually forms much of our core. Working with this segment can provide another silver lining during these challenging economic times.

The super-rich, or those consumers insulated by their wealth, do not seem to be losing their appetites for luxury goods and services. A recent business article in the Los Angeles Times described how marketers of luxury goods are throwing parties and promotional events to make sure their wealthy clients keep spending. The money is there, but the rich just need a little more prompting, the article says.

The article quotes a luxury analyst with the Bain & Co. consulting firm, who says, “In turbulent times, when consumer confidence is decreasing and consumption habits are changing, the most important thing is to gain loyalty from the core customer.”

Chauffeured transportation provides a luxury premium service, so our industry generally tracks closely to the wider market for luxury goods. I often pay attention to how Gucci, Patek Philippe, and Prada approach their retail sales and marketing. The question becomes: Are luxury limousine operators doing the most to mine this core market?

The super-rich very likely are not eager to give up chauffeured service, private charter jets, resort getaways, nights out, and first-class tourism and travel. A recessionary attack on their budgets is more likely to result in a minor crimp than a calamity.

Since operators provide an upscale service, the challenge is to make sure your core clients keep buying. Packaging special event trips well suited to the tastes and buying habits of your most valued high-end customers makes more sense now than ever. Many customers love posh, trendy hotspots, and only you can properly deliver them for memorable experiences. Promoting your marketing packages on the Internet, blogs, and social networks could help create a buzz.

The newspaper article cites a party where a jeweler and lifestyle magazine rent out a scenic mansion and then throw a promotional party full of free food, drinks, and gifts. Such an event, whether at a resort, country club, or elegant social venue, can communicate to your clients that you are ready to pamper them and that you value serving them long term. You can even feature some of your vehicles at one of these venues, and turn it into a mini-expo complete with gifts and gourmet goody bags for take-home. Think of it as a customer-service capital investment.

You’ll find plenty of ideas and products that can give your business a premium edge at the International LCT Show 2009 in Las Vegas later this month. Diverse vendors will be on hand to offer opportunities to upgrade and upsell — to the upscale. This is the time to aim high for quality and keep courting those clients with the most to spend.

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