Where’s the line between ‘creepy’ and ‘personalised’ luxury travel?

It’s a well-known truth that personalised travel is the epitome of luxury, you know, when you’re greeted by name with your favourite drink by the manager of your favourite hotel.

But at a breakfast speaker panel at TRENZ 2017 in Auckland, Travel Weekly USA Airline Editor, Robert Silk, asked, “What’s the line between creepy and personalised service?”

Fellow panellist Nadine Jolie Courtney, a freelancer writer for various luxury publications including Vogue, shared an example of where this line might lie.

Courtney was travelling for the first time without her young daughter, and the hotel she was staying at knew this prior to her arrival – she’s a self-confessed “millennial-ish” Instagram addict and had shared this little fact on her account.

So the hotel printed photos of her daughter from her Instagram, framed them and hung them in her room.

“When I walked into the room and saw them I thought it was the sweetest thing and I cried,” Courtney told the audience.

“But when I told my friends, they said, ‘Wow that’s so creepy.’”

So is this the kind of personalised service luxury travellers are craving?

“If you’re a very rich person travelling around the world, you want to have an authentic experience,” Courtney said.

Silk added, “It’s about making you feel special.

“When hotels know things about you before you arrive, so you feel like you’re among people who know you, that’s a big part of luxury.”

According to Courtney, luxury is about “making the impossible possible”.

“So whether you want to eat at two in the morning or need someone to pick up something locally for you, or you have dietary requirements, you want that hotel to go above and beyond to make it possible.”

Panellist Nancy Trejos, staff writer for USA Today, said “it’s not just about providing a bed anymore. You have to provide a customised experience.”

Silk emphasised the importance of bonding with a destination.

“Premium travellers want to feel like they’ve connected with a place,” he explained.

“But the connection should seem more authentic.”

A final example from Courtney on personalisation in the luxury market was from one of her stays in a Savoy hotel.

Courtney received personalised stationary, with paper letters printed with “From the desk of Nadine Jolie Courtney”, which she said was something extra special and memorable.

Trejos concluded, “It’s about having an authentic experience but making it meaningful enough that you actually take it back home with you.”