Luxury auto makers don’t stop catering to their owners once the cars drive off the showroom lot. They want to maintain goodwill, and they want repeat business. Improving the service experience is part of that, since it’s a low point for many buyers. Many high-end auto makers have been adding amenities—including cafes, screening rooms, and even massage tables—to the lowly waiting room.
Consumers will also want to buy from a marque again if they love the car, and that’s not likely to happen if the vehicle mostly sat in the garage. And that explains the latest trend—auto makers offering fun “experiences,” including scenic drives and visits to racetracks, for their owners. Here’s how several auto makers are building their customers’ enthusiasm level.
The German auto maker recently announced it is expanding its partnership with 1 Hotels to new properties in San Francisco, Nashville, and Hanalei Bay, Hawaii. Hotel guests will get discounted rates and be able to drive Audi’s electric e-tron via guest shuttles and chauffeured drives. The hotels will also arrange local excursions for guests in e-tron SUVs. Audi has also hosted professional driving instruction for owners at tracks such as Sonoma Raceway in California.
Over five days and nights, Bentley owners can take a road trip that includes a visit to the company’s home base in Crewe, England, for a tour. The trip also includes an intimate private dinner; visits to Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Cairngorms; and travel as far north as the Macallan Estate
in Scotland. The Macallan single-malt whisky distillery, founded in 1824, is a global partner of Bentley. There are four tours in 2022, and the double-occupancy price is £11,350 (about US$13,800 at press time) per person.
BMW owners can take advantage of the exclusive benefits program that includes hotel and resort upgrades, as well as priority restaurant reservations at upscale destinations. Partners include L’Auberge in Carmel, Calif.; Meadowood in Napa Valley; Montana’s Ranch at Rock Creek; and Sea Island Resort in Georgia. BMW owners can, within a year of purchasing a new or used car, also take a free one-day course at the BMW Performance Driving Schools in California and South Carolina.
In 2021, Bugatti owners in 10 cars, led by a Chiron Pur Sport, embarked on a 600-mile Grand Tour of the California coast that included a dinner at
restaurant in Beverly Hills, a drive through Santa Barbara wine country, and on to Big Sur. The tour is being repeated later this year, and the company has also led Grand Tours in Portugal, France, Italy, and South America. “The camaraderie developed during these trips is incredible,” says
chief operating officer of Bugatti of the Americas. “By the end of the event, customers had made new friends and left wanting more.”
The performance-oriented company operates Experience Centers in Atlanta and Los Angeles, both with driver development tracks for owners to test their mettle. Included are a handling course mimicking a country road and a low-friction circle for a focus on car control. Porsche maintains a fleet of its cars for rental—everything from the 911 Turbo S to the electric Taycan and the Cayenne for the off-road course. Prices start at US$395. In Birmingham, Ala., Porsche offers instructor-guided track experiences ($1,900 to $11,600) at Barber Motorsports Park. “The Experience Centers are so popular we are adding a second track at our Atlanta headquarters campus,” says
Porsche’s communications chief in North America.
For travelers, Porsche sponsors the Northeast and Pacific Northwest Tours, with the former ($11,400 double-occupancy) exploring the Adirondack Park and Vermont in the fall foliage season; and the latter (same price) starting in Seattle and traveling through Bellingham, Wash., (for a look at the San Juan Islands, with pods of orcas) and the Old West mountain town of Winthrop. Both are six nights, and five drive days. Another tour explores the old Route 66.
The venerable British company arranges exclusive tours through Whispers, the digital home for Rolls-Royce owners. Whispers is “a complete event package to destinations such as the Formula One races in Miami, Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, and Porto Cervo and Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy,” says
the company’s chief U.S. spokesman. The owners get together and often form bonds. Pricing varies, but these are not budget trips. “We are not looking to find a less-expensive event for the client,” Spahn says. “We are looking to provide something they can’t get anywhere else.”
This article appears in the September 2022 issue of Penta magazine.