There is something about a luxury brand that makes it luxury.
Sometimes it's the look and feel, the beautiful advertising, the texture, a pretty font, the service your receive, the money you pay - and sometimes it's a little bit of everything.
Many times, it's an experience you can't quite put your finger on but you know it was special.
Since early 2011, I've had the opportunity to travel the country speaking to tens of thousands of professionals teaching them the latest tech trends and social media strategy.
I've stayed at every type of hotel possible - from an airport dive hotel to the Ritz Carlton and everything in between.
Luxury is a state of mind - it's an attitude.
It's attention to detail. It's caring. It's how you are treated.
It's how you feel the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave.
My last three trips have spoiled me, because I've stayed in three truly magnificent resorts.
The first was the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay which overlooked the magnificent Pacific Ocean.
The second was the Westin Ottawa, which was literally steps from Parliament Hill in the capital of Canada
The third was The Montage at Deer Valley in Park City Utah which was nestled high in the mountains of Utah and offered some of the most incredible sweeping views of Park City.
In all three of these luxury hotels, my daily room rate was close to two or three times more the price of many other hotels I have stayed in. But, what I noticed as the biggest differentiator was the human effect.
The more tech-savvy we become - the less we actually talk to people when we travel.
Think about your flying experience - most likely you booked a ticket online, checked in at a computer kiosk at the airport, breezed through security with little interaction, enter the plane, perhaps chat with the flight attendant if you don't fall asleep mid-flight and then depart the plane - all the while you barely said more than a few words to anyone.
I compare this experience to my experience at the Ritz Carlton. From the moment I drove up, I was greeted with a friendly and warm reception. I drove up and was greeted by the valet and someone to escort me to the front desk.
This person was friendly, engaging and made me feel very welcome. She then introduced me to the person at the front desk who offered me a glass of champagne (which I said YES to!) as I checked in.
And from there the experience was really in all the little details from the turn-down service, to the staff who smiled in the hall when I walked by, to the quick response I received on twitter when I checked in on Foursquare and posted photos on Instagram.
Luxury is in the details.
There are the large details like the cost, or the gorgeous facilities but then there are the quiet, subtle details that you almost miss but make you feel like you belong.
Like at the Montage, when I was sitting in their grand lounge and occasionally a staff member would come by and ask if I needed anything - friendly, warm, unobtrusive.
Or, when I came back to my room and the curtains were drawn, my bed was turned down, and the fireplace was on and my slippers were out and my belongings were gently organized.
I truly believe luxury is a state of mind and that the real opportunity for airlines, hotels or any other brands is to leverage the art of listening - really listening and caring what the answer is.
The art of making people feel noticed.
The art of making people feel special.
The art of asking for things before they ask for them
The art of knowing what they want before they ask.
Luxury is a state of mind.
Katie Lance is a nationally recognized social media consultant, blogger and speaker. Sign up for email updates from her at her website here: katielance.com
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