Beyond Luxury: The Future of Meaningful Experiences
Watch the full Episode 2 of The Luxury Renaissance Show on a link here.
Luxury as it always has, continues to evolve in response to the changing times. With changes in society, globalization, our relative ease and ability to reach farther places in the world thanks to travel, luxury has been subjected to changes in how we live and our connection or disconnection to this planet we all share.
Over the past several years, and especially now in the post-Covid world there is a fundamental shift in how luxury is approached and consumed. This is directly linked to the changing world and how we are able to engage with our luxury choices. Where travel is concerned, for the time being, our international wings have been clipped, restricting us, but somehow liberating us, giving us time for reflection and perspective. This moment of pause to adjust to great change, for luxury and humanity and offers us an opportunity to make change for the greater good.
Leading the way is The Luxury Renaissance Show, created and hosted by Angela Tunner, Founder, EIC and Publisher of EAT LOVE SAVOR and Dr. Martina Olbertova, Founder and CEO of Meaning.Global and author of The Luxury Report on Redefining The Future Meaning Of Luxury, the merit that has started this movement and inspired us to start our own show.
The Luxury Renaissance Show gives us a unique platform and a meeting place in the industry to voice diverse perspectives and bring the knowledge and insight from the fringes back to the epicenter of the discussion. Our vision for this show is to elevate the luxury conversation and create new knowledge. We are creating a global community of like-minded people who share the same vision with us and want to support the initiative.
With our guest, in each episode, we take a deep dive into exploring a particular topic, and engage in a more in depth and richer conversation with an educational purpose. All together we are building the foundational blocks for the paradigm shift to the new luxury and facilitating the transition for a new world. Out of these conversations we will gain a richer context to pave a new way for brands, giving them actionable insights on how to take on future challenges in luxury and to elevate the overall meaning for the betterment of the entire industry.
You can read more about the creation of our new show and our shared vision and mission in the launch article: LUXURY RENAISSANCE: The Rebirth Of Luxury For A New World
Setting The Context
The Future of Meaningful Experiences: Why is luxury moving towards experiential?
The theme for the second show was “Beyond Luxury: The Future of Meaningful Experiences”. But, why beyond luxury?
As you’ll hear Dr. Martina Olbertova say in the episode, right now is the beginning of the next frontier of luxury and creating meaningful and transformative experiences for clients in various parts of the world. It is meaningful experiences that bring human essence to life. We are going through a revolution in human values which is giving rise to a new type of luxury, one that is much more connected to who we are on the inside. Meaningful and transformative experiences are creating a unique platform for us to feel connected to our human essence again. As she wrote in her The Luxury Report , there is an ongoing Cultural Shift moving our focus away From Personal Luxury towards Personalized Experiences. This shift represents a change in our behaviour because people are craving meaning in their experiences as the collective moves away from the idea of ownership towards being. We are coming back to self, to our humanity, to mother nature and embracing ourselves in the context of the world we live in to understand our place in it as part of the natural environment. This underlying turn is sending a powerful call for us to reorient our lives towards essentialism and experiencing the most in the here and now, which are both respectively becoming the new luxury.
Dr. Martina Olbertova says:
“There’s this apparent shift from the tangibles – the material stuff and the need to consume something all the time, towards the intangibles – experiences, immaterial stuff, memories and connections with other people. We see now in the industry, there’s a lot of talk about meaningful experiences, some people, including Luca, but actually not that many others are able to go fully through the concept towards transformative experiences. And I very much believe that the next frontier will be transcendental experiences, helping us connect not just with earth and with ourselves, but with the higher consciousness to fully become alive and unlock our hidden potential. We are not there yet but it will be interesting to see if somebody can do that in the future.”
Listen to Martina speak about why the future of luxury is moving toward experiential in this short video clip Setting The Context: The Rise Of Meaningful Experiences in Luxury.
The Future of Meaningful Experiences: Current Trends, data, statistics and research.
We are now seeing the rise in trends such as secluded luxury, glamping, private experiences, exclusivity, safety, coming back to roots… People are wired to move, and the desire to travel is a part of who we are. In the face of travel restrictions, what has increased, is the desire to travel where one can, but also to be able to safely distance. Angela shares latest interesting data and statistics which are indicative of what’s happening right now amidst the pandemic and where consumer behaviour is shifting towards the future. Based on the Google Trends research over a 30 day period back in June the searches for cottages was up 190%, Glamping was up 180%, Wellness and Resorts were up 65 and 50% respectively. What this activity is showing is that people are still looking to get away while still having a luxurious experience while incorporating the important aspects of privacy, seclusion, private experiences, and coming back to roots. This focus is shifting the way that luxury is experienced that has more purpose.
Angela Tunner says:
“I believe people are looking to get away to places that are allowing themselves to distance safely and have a truly luxurious experience because they’re getting the aspects of remoteness, privacy and seclusion. According to Bloomberg based on research from Grandview research the Glamping market is expected by 2025 to be worth $4.8 Billion dollars. Travellers are now seeking to unwind and to connect to nature while enjoying luxury amenities. The growing popularity of wellness tourism and the increase in ethical tourism and consumer awareness is anticipated to further fuel demand.”
Listen to Angela speak about the current trends and statistics in this short video clip Setting The Context: The Rise Of Meaningful Experiences in Luxury.
Deep In Conversation with Luca Franco
In this in-depth conversation with Luca Franco, we explored the present and the future of meaningful, transformative, authentic and culturally immersive experiences, and why they are important for humanity as well as for the future of luxury travel and in business.
Luca Franco is pioneering the space of meaningful, authentic and transformative experiences in luxury travel. He is someone who is going beyond the current trends and pushes the envelope in terms of his visionary and future-focused outlook blended with important aspects of integrity, sustainability, cultural immersion and respect for core human values.
Luca Franco, Founder and CEO of Luxury Frontiers, is passionate about transformational travel, rewilding efforts, growing businesses, collaboration, and global opportunity. Luca founded Luxury Frontiers with this simple objective in mind: to create truly experiential hospitality structures that are sensitive to the natural environment and encourage transformational guest experiences. Luxury Frontiers projects are authentic with a sense of place, responsible with a purpose, and viable while focusing on the triple bottom line (planet, people, profit). Prior to founding Luxury Frontiers and as an owner of LLPI – an international advisory and management company servicing developers and investors in luxury mixed-use hotels/resorts – he contributed significantly to the successes of Exclusive Resorts, Private Escapes, and DCP International throughout Europe and the Americas. He worked on projects with hospitality leaders like Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari Resorts, Auberge Resorts, Hyatt, The Stein Hotels, Icehotel and Ferragamo.
It was a very fruitful and insightful conversation that gave us a lot to think about, not just in terms of meaningful experiences in luxury travel, but also about experiences and the future of humanity. We both (Martina and Angela) like to take these conversations more in-depth with our guests to allow for the uncovering of insights and knowledge that is often missing from luxury brands and the luxury industry that has for too long been focused far too much on marketing products, rather than on creating knowledge, value and understanding that go behind them.
Here are the highlights of our conversation with Luca Franco, along with the video snippets from the show that correspond with each of these points.
We sincerely hope you’ll enjoy them. We certainly did!
A Vision of Meaningful Experiences: The Journey of Luxury Frontiers
Luca was inspired to create a new kind of company. As an adventure lover himself, he wanted to create something more. When he started, it was a blank canvas. He had a vision to create something deeply meaningful to people and the planet. Over the years, he’s been called ‘the guru of glamping’ but that is not exactly what he does. So what is it that they do? Luxury Frontiers design experiences and new luxury resorts, experiential travel, adventure tourism and luxury transformational experiences. They really understand the customer and what is next for luxury travel thanks to their big attention to the context. Luca clarified something important about the difference between what Luxury Frontiers do and what is called ‘glamping’. When Angela mentions the articles written about him that refer to him as the “Glamping Guru”, you’ll hear Luca talk about the distinct differences: “I try to stay away from glamping and anything related to glamping as a definition. As soon as we opened the project with Aman the next day there was an article saying “Luca, the Glamping King” and then another article calling me the “Glamping Guru”. That is exactly the opposite of what we are. I’m passionate for experiential travel, for transformational travel and for rewilding, that’s close to my heart and at the end of the day I’m an adventure seeker. Luxury Frontiers is a design and development firm. We have a very strategic vision of Luxury Experiential, Transformational, Eco resorts, Eco camps, lodges, destinations. We wanted to encourage transformational guest experiences for our customers.”
Listen to Luca speak in this short video clip going in-depth on the subject: The Vision Behind Luxury Frontiers: Luca Franco’s Personal Journey, Why I’m not the Glamping Guru
What Is the Future of Meaningful Experiences?
When Luca founded Luxury Frontiers ten years ago after the recession hit the USA, he changed course from real estate to experiential travel. At that time, it was a trend, but he saw a behavioural shift coming and indeed that trend has now become a cultural shift. A shift that embraces a sense of purpose as people are now consuming luxury in a more meaningful way. His focus with Luxury Frontiers is a triple bottom line (planet, people, profit) which speaks volumes for his future-focused approach that is rising up to greet the changing needs of people and the planet. What is happening now is that people are seeking more Meaningful Experiences and also Transformative Experiences. Martina also talked about how soon this search for intrinsic self-actualisation might lead the luxury travel industry towards creating Transcendental Experiences that allow people to unlock their dormant human potential and allow us to connect to higher consciousness. So, how far can the luxury travel industry go to apply and adopt these rapid changes in human behaviour? And how much further can meaningful experiences go to create a really exciting offering for people?
Luca added: “It’s really interesting. You’re talking about this and I have chills. I think it’s all about meaningful experiences. There was an interview with Sophy Roberts, an amazing travel journalist, and she wrote that ‘Travel cannot be an act of consumption anymore, it needs to be an act of empathy.’ I cannot agree more with that. I think that conscious and empathic travel will more and more replace the consumption travel. It’s not just about give me, give me, give me – this hectic way of travel that we’ve had for the last few years, but it’s about having meaningful empathic conscious and engaging experience, with a purpose.”
Listen to Luca speak in this short video clip going in-depth on the subject: The Next frontier of Meaningful Experiences
The Impact of COVID on Luxury Travel
Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the travel industry this year. But, it is also accelerating the speed of change and opening the industry up to new opportunities. As Luca says about the Covid-19 effect on travel: “It’s a matter of time. Luxury Travel will recover first and fast and will be very robust. This also happened after the 2008-2010 was the same way. To date, 90% of the travel business disappeared, 88% of travel spending was down and 95% of airline spending is down – this is tragic for the industry and some will recover and some will not survive. But what we need to look at it is the light, the signs of recovery.” Covid is accelerating our reconnection with ourselves and with nature as it pushes us positively to go back to basics; this is a tremendous stage of human re-evolution. As Luca says: “Inbound transformational travel is evolving and the COVID-19 is another crisis, it’s another reset, but also another acceleration. People are recalibrating with nature.”
Listen to Luca speak in this short video clip about the Impact of COVID on the Future of Luxury Travel
Diversity of Luxury Experiences
Luxury Frontiers’ properties are especially diverse, found all around the world and focused on the spirit of a place and the diversity of immersive experiences available to the guests when on site. Many of their locations integrate indoor and outdoor as part of the experience and facility. You can find their locations in places including Africa, Amazonia, America, Europe, Arabia, Asia and for brands including Marquis, Hyatt, Aman, Belmond, Four Seasons, Starwood, Wilderness Safaris and more. Some of the Lodges offer camp to camp journeys. These unique and rich experiences take about 1 to 2 weeks to set up and are Nomadic in nature. You and your private group embark on a leave no trace adventure during a private and immersive experience including a private chef and guide rather than staying in one location. These are truly nature-based experiences, as you’ll hear Luca say “you’re fully immersed in nature, embracing nature and inspired by nature.” One beautiful feature is the ‘Starbed’, “this is part of that experiential journey that we are talking about, creating memorable experiences in a unique setting, like starbeds, treetop dining. They always learn from the local communities and use local materials.” Luca went further to add another important characteristic of the luxury experiential as we were scrolling through the experiences on the pictures in the video: “It’s all about creating memorable experiences but it’s also “surprise”. Before, when we were talking about what Luxury is, Luxury is about surprise. Surprise your guests with something unexpected, it’s a luxury – it’s not about the physical product anymore, it’s really about the experience and what that brings to the heart of the guest.” Covid propelled the luxury consumer to look for luxury experiences in nature, and Luxury Frontiers has been doing this all along.
Listen to Luca speak in this short video clip about the Diversity of Meaningful Experiences
Cultural Immersion: Creating Experiences in the Cultural Context
With the evolution of luxury travel and the push towards more immersive experiences, there is a great opportunity for guests to have culturally enriching experiences. Luca’s company is very much focused on immersing people in the culture, food, heritage and uniqueness of each property during their luxury experiential travel experience. The “Local Touch” as he calls it encompasses local culture, local materials, sustainability, local environment and the opportunity to deep-dive into the context and spirit of a place – genius loci. “Every place has a genius loci, the spirit of a place, and it’s really important to embrace it and make sure that we have a responsible and respectful way to embrace it and to make it a part of the guest experience. The guest needs to know that they are in that specific place, in that specific moment, in that specific season. So that’s really important.“ Luca also brought up another important point about sustainability, in that there is a need for real sustainability, not just greenwashing. He said: “It’s not about marketing, to tick the box “I’m sustainable”. We had that for years, this greenwash. Just to be Eco, you say you change the towels or don’t change the towels and you’re sustainable. It’s important to show the reports, to monitor the social impact, the environmental impact and it’s really important to be meaningful in a real way, not in a greenwash way. You don’t even need to advertise that you are sustainable, that will come by word of mouth when you show people.”
Listen to Luca Franco speak in this short video clip about Cultural Immersion
The Concept of Rewilding
What is “rewilding”? It is a concept that is quickly becoming a new way of living. Rewilding, is us coming back to earth, going back to basics and to our own primal selves and primal instincts. This is also why it’s becoming the future of luxury. It is humanity coming back to its inner essence and reconnecting with Mother Earth and our inner primal being. Rewilding will change the way we live and how we live our each day and will connect us back to nature – both the natural environment and our inner nature. As you will hear Luca say: “Rewilding is more than a concept, it’s something close to my heart, it’s popular and very strong in Africa where a lot of those conservation projects have a component of rewilding. Rewilding is a regenerative approach. It was already there before Covid, but after Covid we can see this escalating. There has been a lot of escalating pain. But now Humans are going back to the basics. We had to go to the grave to go back to basics and go closer to Mother Nature. This crisis came as a wake up call from Mother Nature as we’ve pushed the fragile ecosystem to the extreme. So, this is a reset to rebalance nature, but also ourselves. We need to rewild, reconnect with Mother Nature, go back to basics. We need to learn from nature and we also need to learn that we are nature. Nature is our genius master. Let’s learn from nature how to resolve things. Nature already figured it out 3 billion years ago.” According to Luca, we have been abusing technology, we have become over-reliant on it so much so that we no longer understand the terrain and have no sense of connection to our environments, we’ve lost our human instincts. It is time to get them back by going back to our primal nature.
Listen to Luca speak in this short video clip about rewilding: Rewilding
Key takeaways from this episode
1. Rewilding as a way to reawaken our primal instincts through human connectedness with Mother Nature to understand that we are nature: This is a fascinating concept that is important for humanity as reconnecting with the self via nature is a profound shift that is being spearheaded through luxury. As Dr. Martina Olbertova says: “Rewilding is important because it connects us back to ourselves through our human connectedness with mother nature and also because of how it really brings us back to our primal self and primal instincts to reinvigorate something not just spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, but also these deep visceral sensitivities and sensualites, the fact that we are part of nature and that we are nature. In a way, we are trying to offset the last 2000 years of human civilization where this primal self has been systematically suppressed and now it’s becoming the new luxury because it’s scarce, because we no longer know how to connect to that part of ourselves – we’ve lost touch.”
2. How far we can go in life and business when we fully embrace the concept of Cultural Immersion: There is more to cultural immersion than you might think. As Dr. Martina Olbertova shares some important insights on the subject: “Cultural Immersion is a very layered and multi-faceted experience. It’s about the respect to the place and using the raw materials that have some kind of logical natural connection to the place where you are. It’s also about bringing together the local customs, the people, the tribes, the traditions to create a meaningful experience that fully brings the place to life and that brings you to life while you’re in it. It mediates that inner experience of transforming you to connect us back to ourselves through this experience, so that you are not the same person you were when you arrived. It moves you.” Cultural immersion can have a deep transformative effect on people that goes way beyond the surface of culturally flared experiences.
3. Simplicity: Luxury is about simplicity. This is why simplicity is becoming a very important part of the new luxury. The idea that we need less to experience more. Luca Franco reminds us that it is about coming back to basics. And in the case of luxury experiential travel, he says “hospitality becomes about discovery. It’s not about reading a book by the pool or seeing a beautiful thing, it’s about letting yourself discover the journey.” Dr. Martina Olbertova elaborates on that point by saying: “That’s true because it unfolds. No matter if you’re there or you’re not there, it still goes on. It’s this awareness of impermanence, which is another completely different level to this meaningful experience. This is just so rich. There are just so many facets to meaningful experiences.”
4. From the 5 stars hotel to the 5 billion stars hotel: This shift in perception is about breaking the concept of what we understand as stars worthy to look at. In our civilized society, we have been trained to seek stars in culture as a way of affirming our social status and social mobility. Dr. Martina Olbertova shares her insights into this concept as she urges us to look at the stars: “In our society, we’ve become obsessed with counting the stars – hotel stars, Michelin stars, now celebrities are stars, everything is a star. But the original stars are those in the sky. From the point of view of rewilding, this message says: We are taking you out of the context of civilization where everything is about the status and scales – is it 3 stars or 5 stars or 7 stars, to this notion that first, you are gaining many more stars for your investment, and secondly, we are taking you out of this context of civilization and opening your eyes to the fact that the whole world is full of stars, you’re just not looking at them! It’s a natural state for human beings to look at the stars. So, this is a beautiful reframe.”
Listen to us discuss our learnings on The Future Of Meaningful Experiences in this short video clip: Key Takeaways from Episode 2: Meaningful Experiences in Luxury Travel
Thank you for watching and reading and we will see you on the next episode on Culture Mapping and Analyzing Trends in Luxury on August 16, 2020 at 4pm BST / 8 am PST / 11 am EST!
Where to find out more about Luca Franco
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ABOUT THE LUXURY RENAISSANCE CREATORS
Angela Tunner is the founder, editor in chief, creative director and publisher of EAT LOVE SAVOR® International Luxury Lifestyle Magazine. Tunner is a multidisciplinary woman. Stemming from her experience as a sous chef and manager of a fine dining restaurant manager, she sees fine food is an integral part of the luxury lifestyle, so she integrated it into the magazine. EAT LOVE SAVOR® is more than a magazine name – it is a mantra. Angela has invested over thirty years into an independent and passionate study of luxury communications and branding. She has a keen eye for luxury, understands its language, DNA, its essence and continues to study and searches the world for high-calibre luxury goods, services and experiences to share with the magazine’s readers. Driven by a passion for education and positivity in media, she takes pride in providing the best timeless, educational and enchanting reading experience possible and content written by luxury industry professionals. As a seasoned, multi-disciplined professional, she is accomplished in a wide variety of fields. In addition to her primary job functions, Tunner’s accomplishments include a nomination for the RBC Women’s Entrepreneurs award; winner of the Women of Excellence Award “Woman of Vision”, winner of a Gourmand World Cookbook award for “Best Easy Recipes” for a cookbook she wrote and published, and the fine dining restaurant she co-owned and operated was the winner of two Wine Spectator Grand Awards.
Dr. Martina Olbertova is the world’s leading expert on creating meaning and cultural relevance in business. She is a speaker, writer, brand advisor, cultural strategist, social scientist and semiotician on a mission to redefine the role of meaning in the industry, teaching organisations how to create meaning to encapsulate value from the inside out.
She is advising brands and organisations on how to maximize value creation and meaningful growth from the point of view of where the businesses, culture and society are going in the 21st century.
Martina is the Founder and CEO of Meaning.Global, a global strategy & cultural intelligence consultancy helping brands and businesses navigate the shifting symbolic meanings in global culture and adapt to the fast-changing context of our world today to profit from culture change and create new value and relevance.
She helps brand and business leaders be more culturally savvy and create authentic meaning to connect with their customers around moments that truly matter.
Martina is a contributor to Branding Strategy Insider, a commentator for Forbes, Luxury Daily, Luxury Society, Eat Love Savor magazine and author of The Luxury Report: Redefining The Future Meaning Of Luxury.
She holds a doctorate in Media Studies from Charles University in Prague, and regularly consults, teaches and speaks at conferences around the world.
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