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Modern Luxury and the Future of Travel and Hospitality SKIFT REPORT 2016 1
How the new standards of modern luxury
are steering the direction of high-end
hospitality and travel
AND THE FUTURE
If you have any questions about the report please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
by M. Paul Munford + Skift Team
In partnership with ILTM
Modern Luxury and the Future of Travel and Hospitality SKIFT REPORT 2016 2
Introducing the principles of modern luxury
The Landscape: What This All Means
A Heavy Emphasis on Experiences
How modern luxury experiential ideals are being adapted
across travel and hospitality
• Retail and Food & Beverage
• Digital Concierge and Experiential Tourism Upstarts
• Travel-Focused Luxury Goods Startups
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Skift is a travel intelligence company that offers news, data,
and services to professionals in travel and professional
travelers, to help them make smart decisions about travel.
Skift is the business of travel.
Visit skift.com for more.
Modern Luxury and the Future of Travel and Hospitality SKIFT REPORT 2016 3
INTRODUCING THE PRINCIPLES OF MODERN LUXURY
You may have noticed, over the last few years, a change in the wind — if not in your
own luxury preferences and purchases, then surely with the tenor of a new generation
of brands and services that all seem to embody a refreshingly modern take on what
qualiﬁes as luxurious.
You may have found yourself quietly questioning whether a mass-produced “luxury”
carry-on, for instance, plastered with a monogram motif can qualify as luxurious, simply
because of its high price. That’s especially true when you can ﬁnd a competing product
of equal or better quality — and at a better price — from an up-and-coming specialist.
So does pricing alone determine luxury? Do logos and celebrity ad campaigns
determine luxury? Or is it something more internal and more discreet that determines
whether an item is luxurious or not? What do we make of aspects like the hands-
on manner in which a product was produced, its provenance, and the quality of the
materials? Or the quiet branding that lets the purity of the product shine rather than
the company’s name, or the usefulness of the item? Does that item have a reason for
Just a few years ago, in 2012, Michael Phillips Moskowitz launched Bureau of Trade, a
curated vintage goods resale site for men, before selling it to eBay shortly thereafter.
Bureau of Trade was about expertise and delighting its users. Moskowitz decided to
hand-pick an eclectic mix of rare and vintage items from across the web and pair them
with stories. In so doing, he ensured these items were viewed with context, as one-of-a-
kind items, and crucially, they were no longer tied to (or deﬁned by) price alone. It was
also, crucially, an extremely devoted offering of an outstanding experience, even though
everything was handled online.
When asked about how the luxury market has changed today, Moskowitz offered the
perfect summation for the current environment: “Luxury is no longer connoted by price
or scarcity. Most of the things in the world now can be obtained, but what makes one
thing truly special is who made it, how it was made, when it was made, why it was
made, and collectively, why it should be yours.”
Modern Luxury and the Future of Travel and Hospitality SKIFT REPORT 2016 4
You’d be hard pressed to ﬁnd a more appropriate explanation than that. But for
the scarcity part, he is absolutely correct. Exclusivity — and delight — are still just as
important for the modern luxury experience today as they’ve ever been. But rather
than scarcity being tied up in the cost of an item or prestige being deﬁned by the
logo on the side of someone’s bag, scarcity and prestige are linked to unique and
outstanding brand experiences.
The recent release of Snap’s Spectacles is a perfect example. As Loose Thread’s Richie
Siegel argues, the product rollout is intended to delight and to build excitement.
But it also offers up a new way of thinking about exclusivity: exclusivity by geography,
rather than ﬁnancial exclusivity.
The relatively low price of Spectacles also contributes to its seeming longevity.
Putting a hefty price tag on an item is one way to drive scarcity, but it’s not
entirely natural. If anyone with a lot of money can buy it, it’s only ﬁnancially
exclusive. But Spectacles are geographically exclusive, which unlocks a much
more resilient vector for discovery. This, in addition to keeping the price
affordable, predicates discovery on presence, not prosperity.
The paradox of the Internet is that, although there is so much to discover —
arguably an inﬁnite amount — it’s also much easier to hop on the bandwagon
and let others do the discovering, thus fueling the hype. The Spectacles release
should afﬁrm the powers of the physical world and the beneﬁts of building native
experiences in it. Meticulously controlling the discovery process and ensuring
that money isn’t the only way to circumvent it goes a long way toward keeping
discovery at the core of the experience. There’s a lot fashion brands can learn from
the Spectacles rollout. Empowering discovery, not hype, is always the answer for
Social media-friendly, share-worthy, global: The Spectacles, while not quite a modern
luxury item, have certainly adopted modern luxury behaviors. In doing so, they’ve
stoked excitement for a product whose prestige is separated solely from price, and
whose purchasing experience is exciting (and speaks volumes about the Snap brand
going forward). These are talking points the hospitality industry might be wise to pay