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You can’t fake the Luxe

Luxurious experience – gosh, I hate this marketing phrase so much. In my humble opinion, it is nothing but an over-used wannabe statement, a hollow battle cry to pimp mediocre products, and a shamelessly sneaky attempt to add some posh spice to a bland brand.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2023 2024 You Can`T Fake The Luxe 230927 Daniel F Illu Dan Roznov RZ

I wish Zeus would throw punishing lightning bolts at marketers and sales reps – or was it the intern used as a scapegoat – repeatedly using this catchphrase, and ban them eternally from Olympus Deluxus. It shows lack of both creativity and sensibility for the individual, the marvellous, the extraordinary.

And the goosebumps you get just thinking about it. This line serves as a licence to oversell and underdeliver. N’est-ce pas? You might argue that some things in this world are worthy of this description. Like flying First Class on SWISS, owning an Hermès Himalaya Birkin bag, or sipping the legendary Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959.

But seriously, which professional would dare to promote these gracious experiences with such a trivial line, that could destroy their very magic, that many struggle to put into words. Luxury is – as a philosopher once eloquently put it – a rebellion against the ordinary. I would go even further and call it a stylish protest to boredom.

I am a firm believer that protest deserves original punchlines. After all, irreverence is the very root of creativity. Of course, we providers of luxury goods and services have all been guilty of overselling at some point.

Recently this game has risen to a whole new level. How come? I believe a big driver is the shift to more shades of luxury than ever; pricewise-rather-unreachable brands introduce more lower-priced, entry level products, apparently providing deluxe feelings, while other just-premium-not-quite-luxe brands extend their range with uber-posh versions.

Take Nike’s iconic Air Force One sneaker: the basic model costs € 120, then there are Virgil Abloh’s editions going for over € 75,000 at auctions, all designed from the same basic shape. Well done. But it is the less-iconic and more-mainstream brands that tend to over-sell more, by using silly phrases to grant themselves a birth of cool – from ice cream, cosmetics, pet food, coffee, organic vegetables, washing machines, to train rides and dentist visits – and a fast-track lane at the check-in to upgrade themselves, for panache and higher prices.

And don’t even get me started on car brands. For some, a luxurious experience is the shrieking engine sound and the I’ve-made-it aura of a Ferrari, for others it is the living- room-like noble interiors of a Bentley, oozing refined cosiness. And for peo- ple like myself, it is the quietly intelligent, progressive-yet-intuitive, dynamic gliding of an Audi e-tron. Either way, I believe that the extraordinary always speaks for itself, no matter if it is le dernier cri or a true classic, and our emotions are mere interpretations of it. Modern-day luxury mindset comes in all sorts of colours and volumes; it is no longer just whispering but also singing loudly, as we all saw at Pharrell’s first fashion show for Louis Vuitton.

That LV show was all about the details, showing much care for the extraordinary, that I am missing sometimes in luxury hotels. I am stunned by how obsessed with details in service or interiors many are, yet they fail to use the right words or tone of voice when selling them. Not just on websites, but on captions of social media posts. Forgive me for overreacting, but this is personal for me, because a decade ago I worked as a senior copywriter for Apple.

What have I learned from working with the team around Steve Jobs? The brand feel must be meticulously reflected in every consumer touchpoint. Full stop. I wish luxury hotels would craft their copy a bit more carefully, especially in times of lack of staff and raising prices to ridiculous heights; you must not forget what your north star is, then brief your staff about it and let guests feels it. They don’t want just another luxurious experience. They want to be swept off their feet and make lasting memories that cannot be put into words.

But whenever you do, make sure you don’t fake the luxe. We will be touching down at LCY shortly and I need to put away my iPhone now, which I used to write most of this article. People using laptops on planes are another thing that I hate. But that story is for another time. Until then: Bon Voyage!

Words Dan Roznov

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