High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs), otherwise known as the 1%, are an unpredictable and often illusive target audience. With almost immeasurably deep pockets, their preferences, behaviours, and expectations are completely different to the average consumer – especially when it comes to holidays and travel.
Despite making up such a small percentage of the population, HNWIs wield vast spending power. They contribute $260 billion per year to the global travel and tourism industry, with more than $116 billion of that spent on airfares and accommodation.
And they show no signs of slowing. According to data, over six in 10 (62%) HNWIs across Europe planned to increase spend on leisure and hotels during 2022, citing a ‘desire for better quality experiences’ as one of the biggest drivers.
Know your audience: How to track down HNWIs
As digital marketers and PR pros, we’re often told to know and understand our audience. HNWIs are no different. The fact they make up such as small percentage of the population is a double-edge sword. On one hand, it allows travel and aviation brands to get much closer to only a handful of individuals. But conversely, with such as shrinking pool to target, competition is rife, and each HNWI’s needs are different.
When it comes to digital marketing strategy, micro-targeting works well for tapping into this audience and finding where they hang out. Remember, when looking at membership bases and readership figures, it’s not always about big numbers and vanity metrics – quality trumps quantity here.
Good starting points are small regional luxury magazine, websites for private members clubs, and invite-only social media platforms purpose-built for HNWIs, such as The Marque or Best of all Worlds.
Also, don’t forget about business and corporate media. The world’s richest CEOs and business founders are becoming increasingly active on leading publications such as the FT, Forbes and WSJ. Follow them on social media, and dig into who they personally follow and interact with. Because guess what? All these people love a good holiday too.
Brand loyalty: How to drive repeat business with HNWIs
Once those high value individuals are identified, the next step is targeting them and, most importantly, keeping them coming back for more. That’s because brand loyalty and repeat visitation is pivotal to success when marketing to HNWIs.
With such vast amounts of disposable income, HNWIs can afford (literally) to be extremely selective with where they splash their cash. After all, people who are used to the very best, expect the very best.
That means it’s pivotal to clearly communicate that a brand consistently delivers a top-tier service. Providing a first-class experience during their trip isn’t enough. From initial contact to the booking process, and from the weeks leading up to their holiday to the days immediately after, each and every interaction must be absolutely flawless.
Unique brand experiences: A ‘money can’t buy’ approach
But what do these experiences and interactions look like? The first hurdle facing brands in travel and aviation is offering HNWIs something they can’t already access on their own. HNWIs are accustomed to a luxury lifestyle and crave unique experiences.
Think everything from hiring your own luxury train to take you across Asia to lounging on your own desert island. From trips to outer space to chartering a private jet for an exclusive around-the-world trip. No ceiling is too high.
And this ‘quality’ approach also extends to the content HNWIs are served. While the majority of people may forgive the odd irrelevant email or head-scratching social media ad, HNWIs have a much lower threshold for mass-marketing missteps.
Enter brand partnerships. Teaming up with other companies doesn’t just help travel brands curate those ‘money can’t buy’ experiences, it allows them to create top-class content with which to advertise those experiences.
Although there’s no golden rule for what types of content resonate best with HNWIs, pooling together resources also helps travel and aviation brands create top-tier content: a mix of creative short-form and long-form content. But the quality must always be a step above, and the personalisation must be really, really personal.
One step beyond: Luxury no longer enough for modern HNWIs
While some HNWIs still prefer opulence and top-tier luxury, many also want holidays that offer health and wellness, authenticity, and responsible travel. HNWIs are looking to improve their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) footprint, especially when traveling.
Aviation PR, in particular, must remain conscious of the potential environmental backlash and criticism often associated with luxury travel. We work closely with leading global air charter trade association The ACA to provide its members with sustainability communications advice – companies targeting HNWIs cannot shirk responsibility when it comes to the strength and viability of their own ESG frameworks.
Because of the high price point, HNWIs are often the first to try out emerging and innovative tech, so consider incorporating these into both your digital marketing and the travel experience themselves. Think autonomous vehicles, robotics, and the metaverse.
High risk, high reward
Digital marketing for HNWIs in travel and aviation is always going to be tough. Their expectations are high, and one misstep could be disastrous. Because they’re such an exclusive group, word of mouth is vital to acquiring new customers.
However, high risk often yields high reward. The vast wealth possessed by HNWIs – combined with their increasing eagerness to travel the world in the hunt for unique and fulfilling experiences – make them worth that extra effort.
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