Personalised experiences drive luxury retail

Rupkatha Bhowmick

As the luxury industry expands and evolves, luxury travellers are seeking more personalised experiences. The crucial role of personalisation and experiential retail was discussed during the launch of the “Luxury Travel & Retail: What Does the Future Hold For The GCC?” white paper by Chalhoub Group.

A panel discussion was held to unveil and discuss the findings from the white paper. The panellists included Patrick Chalhoub, CEO, Chalhoub Group; Issam Abdul Rahim Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing; and Gerald Lawless, former chairman of World Travel and Tourism Council and non-executive director of Dubai Expo 2020. The discussion was moderated by Rhea Saran, editor-in-chief, Condé Nast Traveller Middle East.

As travellers ask for increasingly personalised, curated experiences, luxury has begun to move away from the high price tags of yesteryear towards a segment driven by a strong value proposition. For retailers in the region, these developments can be best managed by keeping in mind the seven key findings of Chalhoub Group white paper.

  • Focus on experiences around a product, not solely on the product
  • Curate a luxury offering bespoke to its location
  • Be aware of emerging markets and the strength in existing ones within the GCC
  • Create offerings adapted to traveller tribes
  • Understand millennials and younger generations
  • Be intelligent with digital
  • Tailor offerings for the Chinese and Saudi consumer

“This is absolutely the right time to talk about luxury retail and travel,” observed Chalhoub. “There is a transformation happening in the GCC where tourism has been put into focus regionally and globally. Travellers who are coming to this part of the world are interested in luxury retail as well as experiences. The overlapping possibilities between the two are immense.”

This increased footfall promises positive outcomes for luxury retailers in the future. For retailers, this has powerful implications that, if managed correctly, can lead to positive growth. While there are still many avenues left to explore, including a deeper dive into emerging technologies, one thing is clear, “The luxury experience has evolved and will continue to evolve,” Chalhoub emphasised. “If retailers learn how to curate experiences for travellers coming from around the globe, hospitality and retail will help each other and not compete for custom.”

Travel to and within the GCC has expanded and will continue. Governments and high-end service providers, inclusive of airlines and hospitality groups, have actioned changes to encourage the growing numbers of visitors. This is evident across logistical elements, like visa regulations, all the way through to adaptations that match shifting consumer mindsets like increased focus on sustainability and CSR initiatives.