The new era of engaging the VIP customer

The new VIP means 'access'

Back when my mom and dad were running around like a bunch of crazy kids, they loved the idea of VIP experiences. In their case, that meant getting a table closer to the all-you-can-peel-and-eat shrimp bar. 

In 2016, the seriously savvy modern consumer has an entirely different notion as to what constitutes a VIP experience. Hint: It’s not a couple complimentary bottles of water. While that is nice—and needed—it’s basic entry into an escalating war for premium-paying customers.

There’s a new buzzword out there: Authenticity. But while it’s an on-trend word describing what the travel market in general desires, it doesn’t touch on the present-day VIP experience.

Enter CID Entertainment. It's in the business of creating fully realized experiences for select cadres of people. I had a chance to spend some time with the company’s CEO, Dan Berkowitz, and we discussed what VIP experiences really mean to today’s travel customer. In his case he works with many top bands to heighten the concert-going experience in ways rabid fans love.

“It goes far beyond recognition; it’s about access to experiences that connects people to the music and their lives,” Berkowitz said.

Access Rules

Access is the essential ingredient. At this point, most travelers are sophisticated. They’ve done lots of cool things my aforementioned parents never conceived as possible. So, with the exotic now de rigueur, we’ve transcended into an era where personalized, meaningful experiences matter most. Something curated, something only a select group can do.

Hoteliers can craft experiences such as a weekend with a master chef or a chance to watch films with those movies' director. He or she can share thoughts and secrets of the screened movies, creating an experience competition can’t copy. Or how about teaching tips from some sports pros that provides playing pointers?

Make People Feel Special

“While our programs are designed for a group of people at a single time, we give it that personal touch to make sure every person gets what they want,” Berkowitz said.

CID works with artists of all types, some with major No. 1 radio hits and others way outside the mainstream. The key, according to Berkowitz, is the artists must have passionate fans that care a lot about them. He always asks of himself, "What is it that fans truly want?" This is a strong, translatable notion hoteliers must ask themselves. It cuts to the root of the access issue, and provides insight into what will create a memorable experience where you can charge premium prices.

Charge Charge Charge

“As long as customers feel value, there’s no limit to what they can be charged,” Berkowitz  said. He is right, of course. My thought: Hoteliers should offer multiple levels of packaged experiences. The more premium packages should provide more personalized access—at a higher price point, naturally. This approach scoops up guests wanting to pay pay more for access, something they can’t get anywhere else.

Bragging Rights

The new access-driven experience frontier is about bragging rights. Give them experiences no else can replicate and you’ll be a winner. All because they can then go home and preach to friends and family and through social media about what they did. Remember, it’s all about them. You’re just there in the background to make sure they’re happy.

How do you see the new VIP movement? Let me know with an email at [email protected], or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and share your opinions with me.

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.