The question paraphrases the title of another interesting article published in the latest issue of VRM Intel, an American quarterly magazine that is now a reference point for vacation rental professionals. The magazine provides information, data and industry trends for property managers and occasionally also deals with topics related to properties that are part of the luxury pyramid.
In the article VRM Intel highlights how the importance of the kitchen in a vacation rental has changed over time. Previously almost hidden or shown en passant in the photo gallery, today the kitchen occupies a prominent role. The traveler requires it to be super-equipped, aesthetically pleasing like any other room in the house, spacious and comfortable.
I agree with everything written in the article which also publishes some images of truly spectacular kitchens. Rustic and spacious kitchens, modern and elegant kitchens, kitchens with breathtaking views that invite you to spend whole evenings with your loved ones while living moments that will be unforgettable.
But what else makes the kitchen in a luxury rental so special to generate bookings? There are many villas with beautiful kitchens, which levers can be used to differentiate themselves in the eyes of the potential customer?
First of all you need to know your target. The High Net Worth travellers who stay in a high-end villa in the vast majority of cases do not cook. At home they want to eat well, they want to enjoy traditional dishes but often they also demand a more refined gastronomic cuisine. So, tools such as steam ovens, roners with thermostat for low temperature cooking (now so fashionable), efficient teppanyaki grill, precious Berkel slicers (Dutch engineering masterpieces) are certainly appreciated but, what a High Net Worth traveler wants to find in the kitchen is a cook!
Let’s make now a couple of Marketing 101 comments. The value offer to be meaningful and appealing must be relevant to the target and it becomes so when what is offered satisfies a need, removes a pain, supports values and aspirations. In this case, a personal chef responds to all these aspects: he or she satisfies the need to eat and removes the pain of having to work during the holiday. A personal chef nurtures aspirations such as beauty, prestige and the desire to discover the territory through the gastronomic dishes that the chef expert hands would prepare.
So, the kitchen intended both as a physical section of the villa and as a high-level gastronomic experience becomes a marketing strategy that a luxury rental professional can develop. This is the case, for example, of Rocca delle Tre Contrade, an ultra luxury villa managed exclusively by The Thinking Traveler. Rocca delle Tre Contrade definitely appeals to the palate and to the desire of its guests to deepen the gastronomic culture of a territory. To do this, gastronomic stays of the highest level are organized by inviting starred chefs who pamper the palate of guests by offering unforgettable culinary experiences. The excellent communication that supports this value proposition combined with its professional design has allowed a differentiation recognized by the press and known by all those High Net Worth travelers sensitive to high-level gastronomic culture.
Another example of “kitchens that sell” is that of Villa Prenzano, an aristocratic manor house located in the heart of Chianti in Tuscany. This villa is part of The Villa Italy collection for which I am in charge for the brand strategy and market positioning. The kitchen of Villa Prenzano has professional stoves and equipment allowing its chef to execute menus that can be rustic and traditional or more sophisticated.
The villa is located in an area where many of the competing villas offer a similar service, but very few communicate it with the due strategic focus. To bring out and differentiate the villa, good care was dedicated to the gastronomic aspect of the holiday. Photographing the chef who cooks pasta by hand to drive the viewer empathy, showing the final dish made, embellishing the table with an accurate styling, showing the origin of the products used with images of the organic garden, are some of the techniques used to reinforce the differentiation of the villa value proposition.
The images tell how functional needs are met, how the worry of not being able to rest (pain) is removed and how the aspiration to learn more about local culture and tradition with elegance and style is nourished. A communication that follows the marketing rule described above is very effective for easily attracting and converting a target with an interest in territorial gastronomy.
The strategic storytelling about a villa’s kitchen, now broaden to add the experiential dimension, becomes the critical lever that makes a luxury rental sell!