In Cannes, France, members of the elite International Luxury Travel Market crowd (ILTM) paid grudging respect to the power of the social media “crowd”.
The elite at the classy Riviera resort had to admit that the power and wisdom of Face Book, Twitter, and “invite only” travel web sites was changing the face of luxury travel, for good.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that Klara Glowczewska, editor of Conde Nast Traveler, a glossy, upscale travel publication, admitted that Facebook, with its 600 million users “will have a dramatic impact on how affluent travelers make their travel decisions.”
Until now, high-end travel and travelers pretty much had the world to themselves.
Immune from the social network platforms the rest of us use to shape our travel experiences, luxury travelers talked mostly among themselves and knew, as a class, where to go and how to get there.
It’s all changing.
Luxury hotels have come to recognize the influence of the Internet, and social media in particular to shape or ruin a reputation, and build a clientele…the same as they do for any other property or destination.
Olivier Chavy, a lifestyle and luxury executive at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria Hotels, told AFP, that luxury properties are hiring social media managers to protect their on-line images and reputations.
Although many of the “uber-wealthy” travelers still prefer to get their travel information from luxury travel specialists, that’s changing.
The Preferred Hotel Group which represents “the world’s best independent hotels and resorts,” reports that 6.5- million of America’s 77-million baby boomers are active social network users, and these are expected to be healthy, wealthy new luxury-oriented travelers.
While the ILTM group acknowledged the obvious power of Facebook and Twitter, it was assumed that “savvy up-market travelers” will get their luxury travel tips from less known, invitation-only sites like Rue La La and asmallworld.com.
Regardless, the first populist cracks in the luxury travel market have appeared, affirming, perhaps, the democratizing power of the social media phenomenon.
The four-day, 70-country event also highlighted “hot” upcoming destinations, including Finland, Ethiopia and Cambodia’s island resort, Song Saa