Global Traveler: Tell us about the Audi test drive program at North American hotels.
Johan de Nysschen: Overseas, Audi is a very successful, well-known and highly-regarded luxury brand. The company had placed emphasis in Europe, and Audi has become the fastest-growing brand in volume in the premium segment. Recently, Audi has turned to Asia and North America to stimulate interest and growth in its product. In the United States, the Audi brand is not as familiar as it is in Europe. One strategy we employ to raise awareness of our brand is to partner with luxury hotels in the United States that have similar core values and appeal to discerning customers.
We have a particular set of criteria that hotels have to meet — not every 5-star hotel qualifies — and the number of cars located at each hotel differs. Many of the hotels package the use of an Audi vehicle as an amenity with their VIP suites during the period of the guest’s stay. This puts our vehicles in the hands of discriminating customers so they can experience our cars firsthand in a leisurely setting. We know from feedback from our hotel partners and customers alike that this program is translating into sales. The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Hotel Bel-Air and the Wynn Las Vegas are some of the properties that have the Audi test drive program.
GT: Since the readers of Global Traveler are frequent international travelers, please elaborate on Audi’s overseas delivery program.
JDN: Audi sells 50,000 vehicles a year through our customer delivery program in Germany, with most of the customers originating from Germany and Europe. In 2006, Audi made it possible for U.S. customers to plan a European vacation around their pick-up of an Audi. The process is quite special and includes VIP pick-up at your gateway in Germany and a factory tour. The entire process is very personal and special from arrival until departure. Custom-made interiors are available to make your car unique; we have had very favorable feedback. For the convenience of the traveler, there are drop-off points throughout Europe and then the car is delivered through our North American Audi network. So far this year we have delivered 200 cars to buyers from the United States and we have more than 300 on the books.
GT: What changes are in store for Audi’s larger upscale vehicles?
JDN: Both the A6 and the A8 are successful vehicles. The A6 is its segment leader worldwide as far as sales are concerned. The A8 has been Audi’s flagship since the mid 1990s, not only in size but also technology, craftsmanship, and performance. In addition to the 100-percent aluminum body shell in its second generation, the interior is second to none and an overall benchmark among its German and Japanese luxury competitors. In fall 2007, we made subtle changes such as grillwork, taillights, materials and richness of the interiors and technological advances such as iPod connections, and we now offer added value options such as blind spot detection (Audi side assist) and lane departure warnings (Audi lane assist). Audi is always looking at the fuel efficiency of the engines and overall performance, which has become our trademark. We offer normal wheelbase models with eight and 10 cylinders (S8), and long wheelbase versions in eight- and 12-cylinder models. And don’t forget quattro allwheel drive, which has been standard equipment on the Audi A8 for close to two decades.
Awareness about fair and sustainable travel continues to grow around the globe, with travelers everywhere considering a destination’s eco-friendly options before visiting. As public consciousness for this important aspect of tourism strengthens, tourists also look beyond just ecotourism and delve deeper into types of travel that allow them to respect the local culture, interact with locals and distribute benefits fairly.
Without visiting, it’d be easy to throw Chicago into any number of categories. Everyone thinks they know Chicago; after all, it’s the third-largest city in America, the most prestigious foodie city in the country, the city of jazz, a comedian’s playground, an architect’s dream, a writer’s paradise. The list goes on. Only when walking the streets themselves do you realize there’s nothing categorical about the Windy City, especially as it continues to evolve.
PHOTO: © ADRIAN OLSTAD
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
The Lanesborough, one of London’s most luxurious properties and part of Oetker Collection, offers a romantic afternoon tea experience alongside a hotel stay just in time for Valentine’s Day. Available Feb. 11, 12 and 14, Valentine’s Afternoon Tea features Rosé Champagne and a rose cake to share with that special someone.
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A deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria Feb. 6, with more than 11,000 fatalities thus far reported. That number is expected to grow as rescue operations continue.