Luxury has always been an incredibly important part of our business at bgb. We have worked with Raymond Blanc for many years and are delighted to be celebrating his twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Our clients also number brands such as the International Luxury Travel Market and One & Only, through to individual properties such as Le Mas Candille, or uber luxury skiing lodges.
So what is our view of luxury in 2009? Times are tough as we all know. At the end of 2008 I think there was still an element of optimism in the industry. At ILTM in Cannes last year 67% of delegates said they believed the luxury travel industry would continue to grow. Guy Gillon of PriceWaterhouseCoopers silenced the entire conference by telling them, in his view, it wouldn't recover until 2012. Now he believes that market volatility is still leaving high net worth individuals unclear about the day-to-day value of their wealth and therefore rethinking what they spend on luxury travel.
Views amongst experts are inevitably mixed. Some believe we are now seeing evidence of things starting to pick up. Internet searches for luxury brands have risen sharply in recent months: Mercedes Benz up 30%, Aston Martin 10%, Foreign holidays 7% and Champagne 6% since January. And encouragingly, internet searches for terms such as second income, marriage guidance, swap shops (all the grim face of recession ) have fallen by a third.
Looking into our sector on Google analytics, you can see that luxury hotel is the most searched for term in the luxury travel sector with 823,000 searches last month in the UK alone (13.5 million globally), followed by luxury holiday and luxury travel. So the signs are that people are searching, and it's incredibly important to understand what they're searching for and how they're searching, so that you can influence the result through SEO and your customers can find you. In the luxury ski sector for example there are 60% more searches for luxury ski chalets than there are for luxury ski holidays and six times more searches just for luxury ski. When you look on twitter at who's tweeting and following in our sector you see the most followed luxury travel accounts are an ecletic mix of the Movenpick in Berlin, an Oyster Festival in South Africa and the Asia Luxury Travel Market.
But, however our customers find us, we are all faced with the challenge of converting that interest into sales in this incredibly late bookings market that's developed.
So our industry is alive, adapting and embracing new marketing techniques to target customers who are thinking and behaving differently as a result of the recession. What everyone seems to agree on is that we should all be striving to improve standards, focusing on looking after our loyal client bases and understand that our customers, more than ever, must feel they're getting value for money.