BMW, Four Seasons, Silversea | Don’t Play with Me if you’re not in My League

Background
BMW claims that they don’t have to compromise. From their site at bmwusa.com ” they are beholden to no one… BMW has been independent since its inception in 1913. That means, for more than eight decades, we’ve been building vehicles that are uncompromised, authentic and exhilarating to drive.”   

Same can easily be said for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts which has no sister brands. Their level of service is beyond anything in the industry for a company their size. Smaller hotel companies like Dorchester Collection and the Maybourne Group can also claim exceptional service, but they’re much smaller.   

Silver Shadow

Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow in San Francisco

 

Silversea cruises is the same. Interestingly, Seabourn Cruise Line which is now owned by Carnival Corporation (but which was initially independent) also operates this way.   

What’s Interesting
What prompted me to write this post is that some non-luxury exclusive companies think they can provide a luxury product to my clients and me. They can’t. Not sure if I’m going to name them. But really. Luxury is so much more than Frette linen and a butler.   

Cruise line ABC for instance, has about 10 brands. They’re like GM was. They can put out a somewhat respectable brochure or web site for a luxury brand and expect to be taken seriously. Not exactly — especially when their basic web URL is the same on the agency side. Can you imagine as a consumer trying to build your dream Cadillac by going to Chevrolet.com. It doesn’t work. It’s not because Chevrolet.com isn’t good, it’s because Chevrolet.com tells the prospective Cadillac shopper that they really don’t consider the brand difference to go beyond the showroom. Where’s the aesthetic and excitement of the Cadillac? On a Chevy web site?   

How about service levels? There is one cruise line with about 10 ships, of which 1 of them is so-called luxurious. That’s nice, but don’t expect the idea of luxury to filter down to the travel agency. It’s quite difficult dealing with this company and my experience is anything but luxurious. If my clients are lucky they won’t see any of this and they’ll be fooled. I’m thinking of paying them NOT to take this line again. But apparently on board, their service levels are good enough, and their itineraries interesting enough, to bring them back. This will be their second cruise on this line.   

How about Hyatt? They have Park Hyatt (super deluxe), Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Place and who knows what else. This should be a story about brand confusion, but from my perspective it’s about a 5 star relationship that they should have with their clients (consumers and travel agents) which they don’t. They just can’t compete with the hotel companies mentioned above.   

Please join the discussion. This is worthy of much debate and discourse.