BMW has partnered with luxury operator Butterfield & Robinson for its European car purchase and pick up program. BMW
Skift Take: European car pick ups have been a thing for decades now, but BMW's move to add B&R to the mix is an additional selling point for the right kind of traveler.
— Laura Powell
Brand collaborations are an increasingly popular way to supercharge consumer reach. According to U.K.-based WGSN, a global trend forecaster, 78 percent of luxury brands surveyed plan to collaborate by 2020. In its study, How to Attract the Luxury Consumer in 2020, WGSN notes that “whether it’s for content distribution or the creation of a co-branded product, brands are looking for new ways to differentiate and re-position sales strategies.”
The report notes advantages to teaming up include opening wider sales channels, creating newness and exclusivity, and driving international growth. “Collaborations, of course, are not a new currency for brands,” according to the study. “But to stand out, the best luxury names must look for exclusivity and relevance. They should focus on partnering with brands who have similar audiences, but different functions, to create unique experiences. The best collaborations are a great showcase for a brand that wants to prove it understands this dichotomy, and offer hybrid offerings, often in hybrid locations. One plus one can equal three, if executed well.”
BMW and Butterfield & Robinson are doing that math. The Canadian company has just been named exclusive tour operator for the BMW European Delivery Program. According to Norman Howe, president and CEO of Butterfield & Robinson, “I’m a big believer in partnerships that resonate with brands in parallel/complementary spaces. The partnership with BMW is a performance-oriented, high-end creative way to push the envelope.”
The BMW European Delivery Program as it exists today took shape with the opening of the BMW Welt in Munich in 2007 Once program participants arrive in Munich, they take possession of their new cars at the museum/event center/automobile dispensary.
Then, it’s off to the races. The partnership with Butterfield & Robinson lets new BMW owners road test their new cars via a B&R-designed self-drive itinerary. Owners conclude by dropping off the car in one of 12 locations in Europe for it to be shipped back to the United States.
According to Larissa Radicke, special sales manager for BMW of North America, “BMW owners will have the option of choosing from one of the pre-designed itineraries where all of the details have already been taken care of — from mapping an exciting driving route to hotel accommodations and even dinner reservations — or customizing an itinerary to fit more specific desires.” Radicke notes that BMW has previously offered travel assistance in association with the European Delivery Program, but never anything this comprehensive.
The savings owners realize from picking up their cars on-site can largely pay for the cost of the Ready-to-Book self-drive itineraries Butterfield & Robinson has developed. The curated packages span five or six days and cost between $500 and $1000 per person, per day, depending upon the level of accommodations selected. Or, just as BMW owners can fully customize their new automobiles, B&R can craft a bespoke adventure exactly to specifications
According to B & R’s Howe, “So many luxury brands want to leverage travel for their brand story. Travel is a metaphor for adventure, so the perfect way to make it tangible is by the hands-on chemistry of associating the brand with a trip.” As for Butterfield & Robinson, Howe notes, “Since these consumers live in an ecosystem of luxury brands, teaming up with BMW gives us a powerful chance to show them our capabilities.” This can lead to future business as “chances are someone who owns a BMW can afford to take our kinds of trips.”