An Emmy award-winning writer and producer, Peter Greenberg is Travel Editor for NBC’s Today show, CNBC and MSNBC, a best-selling author and host of the nationally syndicated Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio show. Greenberg is also Contributing Editor for America Online (AOL) and Men’s Health magazine, a contributor to The New Yorker magazines and a frequent guest on ABC’s Oprah Winfrey Show and The View.
Luxury travel is not about price but at the same time it’s not about being nickel-and-dimed. It is about experience and value, and he will not brag about how much he has spent but what he has done. It is social one-upmanship.
We are living with the new abundance and new expectations.
One of my own favorite hotels is Four Seasons Hotel New York, because of the light and space, and all my female friends say they can put on their make-up without having to squint in the mirror (no hotel interior designers should be paid until they have actually slept, successfully, in those rooms they have designed). In Europe, the Four Seasons George V Hotel would be top of my list, especially if you have a room overlooking the Eiffel Tower. In the Middle East I would go for one of the villas at Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, in Asia it would be the Peninsula Bangkok. Wherever, I do not want mood lighting but I like dimmer switches.
Hotels’ asset managers seem to forget the luxury that many consumers experience at home, and they want those who operate their properties to make as much money, as quickly, as possible. Hampton Inns and Rezidor SAS give free broadband but many luxury hotels charge enormous amounts. Asset managers do not understand that if consumers feel they are being given something for free, they will spend more. The flowers at Four Seasons George V cost a small fortune, but because they are so beautiful I then find myself spending over a $100 on a lobster sandwich lunch in the hotel’s bar, and it is so good I have another one. I considered the spend an excellent value because of the flowers around me. Asset managers need to be educated, and sent on a one-way vacation.
But savvy consumers need to be aware if too much is overtly offered. The words ‘all- inclusive’ are becoming ridiculous (look for the asterisks). The message is simple in today’s world. Do not over-charge at Nice Airport, I was charged a whole euro for a cart. By the time a consumer arrives in a hotel he has probably been ‘abused’ about 47 times.
I recently flew from Los Angeles to New York on a $4,200 ticket and asked a flight attendant if she could justify the price. We toss the salad here in First Class, she said (well, in case of turbulence the salad would be tossed throughout the whole plane). But it is sometimes the details that count. American Airlines took off its ice cream sundae and passengers shifted to other carriers within 48 hours. American was forced to put it back on.
In the airline world, today’s biggest luxury is a human being to serve you. The biggest mistake airlines ever made is self-service kiosks. Why doesn’t someone reconfigure a B-757 for 20 seats, fly it across the USA with a $6,200 seat price? It would be full. But in five years’ time the arrival of Very Light Jets VLJs will have brought all flying prices down considerably.