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Bright Young Things: A Whitepaper Based on the Workshop at International Luxury Travel Market 2011

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Michaela S. Guzy

Editor’s Note: The following white paper on International Luxury Travel Market’s 1st Annual Bright Young Things workshop in December 2011 is excerpted with permission from author & panel moderator Michaela S. Guzy, VP/Global Travel and Strategic Development at American Express Publishing, a longtime research contributor to the ATTA as well as a speaker at several Adventure Travel World Summits.

Guzy is the Vice President responsible for overseeing the travel category and development of new initiatives for all American Express Publishing brands, Travel+Leisure, Food&Wine, Executive Travel, Departures and Black Ink.  With 21 global editions in 50 countries and nine languages, the fastest growing travel and epicurean websites, four Travel+Leisure branded retail outlets, two of the most successful iPad launches to date and over 850,000+ Facebook fans and Twitter followers, the American Express Publishing brands are some of the most recognized in the world.  In her role, Guzy is tasked with enhancing Amex Publishing’s travel authority and positioning globally and domestically.

Guzy was awarded the “2010 American Express Pubby Award for Business Innovation” for the successful launch of Vacationist; a member only flash sales site jointly created by Travel+Leisure and Luxury Link.

 Guzy previously carried various travel advertising, sales management and development roles in support of Travel+Leisure, Town & Country, Town & Country Travel and Town & Country Weddings, and in Condé Nast Corporate Sales.  Guzy began her career in media planning at Deutsch Inc.

Guzy has been invited to speak as a trusted travel authority at the VisitBritain International Business Exchange; TravelWeek Sao Paulo, Brazil; ABETA Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Adventure Travel Trade Association’s Summit in Scotland and Chiapas, Mexico; as well as LatinVisions’ Marketing to Latinos Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Conference on March 1, 2012.  Guzy serves on the Advisory Board of ADTI and moderated International Luxury Travel Market’s (ILTM) launch of “Bright Young Things” workshop in Cannes.  She also has guest segments as the “Female Road Warrior” on Peter Greenberg’s radio show.  Peter Greenberg is the Travel Editor of CBS and copies of the show can be found on:  Recently, GreenTeam interviewed Guzy for their video: “Meet the Awakening Consumer” ( 

Follow her: @Michaelaguzy


Simon Mayle, Founder of Bright Young Things Workshop, launched the first annual gathering of the minds during ILTM in Cannes this December 2011. Bringing together three topics with many burning questions, seven “bright young things” and a group of hand selected travel experts, the interactive panels explored innovation, diving deep into- what worked, what didn’t and why.

Bright Young Things Panelists

  • Mario Jobbe, Co-Founder & COO, Brand Karma
  • April Hutchinson, Editor, TTG Luxury
  • Carolyn Turnbull, General Manager Global Sales, Aman Resorts
  • Aaron Kaupp, General Manager, Armani Hotel Milano
  • Jennifer Atkinson, CEO, International Travel Connections
  • Shelby Donley, Owner, Camelback Odyssey Travel
  • Gabriel Donida, Executive Director and Director of Sales&Marketing, Atelier Voyage

Addressing a Need

As with many movers and shakers in travel, Mayle saw major challenges influencing the way organizations conduct business. As the world gets smaller and goes global, several undeniable dynamic shifts have emerged. Tech savvy consumers are communicating at record speeds and instantly influencing their global social networks from their multiple handheld devices. However, these consumers are slow to part with their hard earned dollars without a sense of personalization. In this spending set, in order to justify purchase of larger ticket items, including luxury travel—there is an expectation of proven “value” associated with the high cost. So how does the luxury travel industry address the issues of instant gratification and mass customization?

Defining a Generation

Earlier this year, GFK Roper Consulting issued a report of “selling luxury to Gen Y”. They advised that marketers who wish to appeal to Gen Y’s aspirations should note that these young adults have a broader sense of luxury. They ranked “excellent quality”, “excellent craftsmanship” and “technologically advanced” as top ranking attributes. But Gen Y and Gen X are both more than likely than average to seek “expensive”, “exclusive”, “high-class” and “trendy”—so how do companies address both?Some suggest taking advantage of Gen Y’s broad definition of luxury to find a unique niche for a premium brand by combining the attributes relevant to both the product and the Gen Y lifestyle. While we can’t predict if this generation will become more conservative in their spending habits as they age (as in the case with their parents), we can adjust offerings accordingly to speak to their desires and fit within their (growing) means. Take for instance Burberry, who continues to launch new product lines against a younger audience. The infamous trench holds true across each line, but edgier. The brand currently has over 10 million+ fans on Facebook, the single largest following of a luxury brand on social networks.

Tackling the Burning Questions

We posed three relevant and HOT topics to the panelists to gather their thoughts and feedback. Below you will find both the topics and key findings from the discussion.

  • TOPIC 1: Marketing to a New Generation of Luxury Travelers and Staying Relevant in the Internet Age: When the consumer drives the conversation from one of their mobile devices, how do you stay in front of them, engage them, win their loyalty with so many options and ultimately drive them to book—with you? How to attract and retain these fickle, overly communicative and very opinionated consumers.
  • TOPIC 2: Trends in the Supplier/Buyer Relationship and Engaging Consumers in a Meaningful Way: How to provide luxury travel products that meet the new generation of travelers needs. Suppliers share the importance of strong partnerships, trends in supplier and buyer relationships and engaging consumers in a meaningful way. How are they finding you? And how to differentiate your custom experience to buyers?
  • TOPIC 3: Incentivizing the Next Generation of Luxury Consumers to Book: Travel advisors from the UK, Germany and US share how they are communicating value, loyalty and incentivizing the next generation of luxury consumers to book. What is driving them to this point of sale and how can you capitalize on this?

For key takeaways, supporting research, summaries and resources for further interest, please download the entire whitepaper.

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