Luxury is the opposite of vulgarity.

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Well, I think it is time to speak clearly about some things.

What exactly should be the concept of ¨Luxury¨?. The extraordinaire founder of all these things Ms. Coco Chanel used to say: ¨Luxury is the opposite of vulgarity¨.

According to this, I guess we should all thoroughly review this concept that is worryingly beginning to get ¨diluted¨ (into I do not ¨what¨), step by step in this 21st. Century. You just have to check in Instagram for the hashtag ¨#Luxury¨, and I guess you will realize what I am trying to mean now.

 

THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGGS.

I mean we should necessary begin to make a stop and think about all these things carefully, before we kill ¨that goose¨. Specially now when the Luxury Industry presents its best global perspectives ever for the near future, with a 9%/year growth up to the year 2025, driven by a growing Chinese middle class and a recovery in more mature worldwide markets, such as the new Millenials era; that ¨tech-savy¨ generation that will represent 45 percent of overall luxury consumption, with Asian consumers accounting for more than half.

The biggest reference worldwide in the Luxury Market, the Jumeirah Group, is about to expand its hotel offer with at least five new resorts and the launch of a new lifestyle brand. The other ¨giant¨ in this context, the Marriot Group, is planning to open 40 Luxury Hotels in 2018, which demonstrates we are already IN a new golden era of Luxury.

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THE MOMENT TO LAY THE FOUNDATIONS.

However, I guess we are doing something wrong when experts need to incise the concepts of ¨real Luxury¨, or ¨true Luxury¨, as if they were forced to make a difference for what might be currently happening.

..Can we conceive as ¨Luxury¨ the first tourist trip around the Moon planned for the end of 2018??.

..Is ¨that¨ what Ms. Coco Chanel was referring as ¨Luxury¨ in the 20th. Century??.

..Or on the other hand, are we changing the rules now??. Are we considering ¨Luxury¨ as for instance the beach club parties where attendants spray 1,000eu. bottles of champagne??.

Because this is really happening today, and I guess these numbers are also included in all the ¨analysis¨ related to the future of the Luxury Industry. In this sense, I am afraid we might be unconsciously creating a new market bubble where the concept of ¨Luxury¨ is just becoming a powerful tool for the client attraction.

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WE NEED TO RESCUE THE ¨HIGH CLASS¨ CONCEPT.

In the current moment when plenty of ¨outsiders¨ are entering the market of Luxury, I guess ¨exclusivity¨ is something that begins to lose its essence. Now, everybody with ¨simply money¨ can afford what before was just reserved for the privileged. This is a process with no apparent limit, that probably began with the gestation of the new generation of rich sportsmen who raised from non-privileged environments. People that began to behave like most of the current ¨Millenials¨ do today.

In this way, it would be really opportune to make an exhaustive balance for what the National Basketball Association (NBA) was in the USA thirty years ago, and what it has really become these days. Make a proper comparison for what players like Julius Erving, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan behaved in their golden days, and the current celebrities that surpass this sport today. I do not just mean tattoos or mega cars (probably everything began through the forward Dennis Rodman). I mean getting out of jail to play the games.

..And I guess this is sadly and worryingly detrimental for the current concept of ¨Luxury¨. In the end, we all have to be aware of how Millenials behave today as their heroes do. The ¨monster¨ is already being fed.

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EXCLUSIVE SOLUTIONS FOR VULGAR CHALLENGES.

The ¨real¨ luxury traveler already knows about all these things, and the industry must now adjust its strategies to the new ¨tsunami¨ that it will face in the next few years. I think it is time for the ¨unique experiences¨ conceived as ¨high class actions¨, not based in tangible resources but inapproachable and educated live enjoyments.

In this sense, CREATIVITY will be the next powerful tool to satisfy the high expectations for ¨exclusivity¨, that Luxury consumers will demand from now on. Luxury providers will be forced to create authentic ¨lifestyles¨, more than just fleeting moments.

According to this, 1. influence at the time of attending events will gain prominence to the detriment of the affluence. 2. Wellness will beat the eccentricity. 3. Authenticity will end up with vulgarity. 4. Education will delimit the class.  5. Segmentation will prevail over the crowds. 6. Limited editions will become the real trend. 7. Ethical offers will be a must. 8. Long term exclusive  attention will make the difference. 9. Engagement will build customer fidelity. 10. Higher prices will make ¨Luxury¨ just affordable for the real luxury consumers. These are my personal trends for the next years.

Definitely, ¨once in a lifetime experiences¨ will give rise to the next ¨Real Luxury¨ providers. In this way, I would say the Luxury Market will get into a new era of ¨Status¨. We are in the moment of determining the differences for the ¨High Class Luxury¨ versus the ¨Low Class Luxury¨.

The first ones leading this challenge, will place their brands in the new coming market. The same one that probably will rescue the essence of what Ms. Coco Chanel spoke about once.

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Merry Christmas to you all (the making-of).

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In this current World where everything is getting ¨globalized¨, it is wonderful to see there are still cultural differences that make us ¨authentic¨. This is something that we always need to take in consideration, specially in the events management market.

In my case for the context of Spain, it is really different handling groups of people coming from England, Germany, India, Mexico or the USA. Jews, Christians or Muslims, they all have their own ¨specifications¨; habits, tastes, concepts and social rules that make all of them different one to each other. For instance, in China brides dress in red, but in the other hand this color is used for funerals in South Africa. In Europe the black color is associated to elegance and power (even still mourning), but in India this color represents the concept of the devil. I was once in a Jewish wedding where no waiter was able to touch the food or serve the wine; just the ¨kohen¨ was allowed to. That would be an ¨offence¨ in Spain, and this fortunately makes me think we are still ¨culturally rich¨. This is wonderful.

Something similar happened to me in these days, at the moment of designing my Christmas card that I sent to my people. I initially made two different ¨drafts¨, that finally both work as different messages according to their different targets. The ¨SANTA¨ option is for the Anglo market, and the ¨THREE WISE MEN¨ option is for the Latin world.

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To be honest I like both, but before taking the final decision, I made the opportune market research checking the impressions from my friends abroad. I asked people from England, the USA, Germany and New Zealand. You know in the Anglo world they do not celebrate the ¨Three Wise Men Day¨, and they saw this option as an invitation for a cool travel to Saudi Arabia or Morocco. ..LOL that was hilarious, I could not believe it when I noticed about it.

At the same time, some of them thought it was weird to them seeing Santa Claus flying close to the sun, when they always believed he was traveling in the night. Even some of them automatically thought that that ¨sphere¨ originally was the moon. I had to explain the concept to them, about the ¨hook metaphor¨ of this Christmas card: I am supposed to be in SPAIN, the country where the sun never sets, and ¨winter¨ is just an empty word. This is why Spain can never be associated to the ¨moon¨, and the reason for ¨Santa¨ to finally decide to fly close to the Paradise. He enjoys life too..

(Anyway!),.. I wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a PRODUCTIVE NEW YEAR. May all your dreams and wishes come true, and I will be really happy if that happens.

You are all invited to enjoy a ¨magical craving¨ experience here.

Event trends for 2018. The Year for the ¨exclusive interaction¨.

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This is the moment when you can read lots of ¨Year 2017´s annual balances¨ and ¨2018´s trends¨. Among all these last ones, I found a 22 trend selection article from Eventbrite which I think ¨rocks¨. Everything what you can read there is really opportune (..well, I do not agree with trend #14 but the rest is wicked, you can draw plenty of conclusions. Congrats Ms. Bel Booker, the author).

According to all this, I decided to brief what I consider the ¨tendencies¨ for the Year 2018 in the industry of events as following now.

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I need to warn the reader first:

Everything contained in this post is written under an estimation of ¨normal market conditions¨ for the Year 2018. This means: Mr. Donald Trump´s assertion of Jerusalem will not affect the global market of events, neither a possible war with North Korea, or a hypothetical global recession according to whichever convulsing news.

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THE YEAR FOR THE SELECTIVE AND INTERACTING EVENTS.

I think 2018 will be the year for ¨live interactive events¨. From now on, nothing will be useful unless you do not make your real target interact with your product, with your network or with your environment. In this way, this will be the year of ¨Family Events¨, understood as people with deep affinities meeting and joining all together, like a kind of ¨family¨ around your objectives pursued. Now massive business concentrations will get more and more selective at the precise moment of making their calls, in order to find the ¨affinity and reciprocity¨ between the attendants.  It will be not more valid just generating ¨irrelevant cold leads¨ for a huge database, just because you missed the opportunity of making people live ¨AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES¨ with you first.

From now on, big trade fairs will be forced to make ¨selective atmospheres¨ for their real potential targets. This thing called the ¨professional days¨ is currently becoming a joke (..I guess I am not the only one saying this). And now the real professional targets demand ¨real professional workshops¨, in order to obtain the ¨real professional interaction ¨ for their network interests. This is what commonly is known as ¨separate the chaff from the wheat¨.

There will be smaller incentives, smaller presentations, smaller conventions and even smaller weddings too. Everything will get more ¨exclusive¨ from now on, and this will mean everything will get more ¨accurate¨ too. In this sense, the proposals from all of us the event planners,  will must offer the professional level as expected by the clients, according to their real potential targets; the direct ¨shot¨ towards the affinity of their key audiences. Everything conceived as a search for the ¨excellence¨ and the budget optimization, delivering end to end selective live experiences, according to the objectives previously marked.

A kind of ¨delicacy events¨ gathering ¨key people¨. I guess that will be great for everybody.

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HUMAN INTERACTIVITY WILL BE THE REVOLUTION.

We will see new methods of real human interaction (beyond technology interaction) among the attendants. Probably many of the new experiences will be based on the traditional team building techniques, applied now to this new kind of ¨Family events¨.

I guess we will see as well an advance for new technologies specifically generated for the ¨live emplacement interaction¨, more effective than the ¨distant social networks¨, via mobile apps or video games working at the place. This will make the attendants of an event, real ¨influencers¨ in their social networks later, when they share their experiences as ¨leading agents¨ of an action. From now on, the corporate brands will get ¨desirable¨ by the human role evidenced by their audiences at their experiences offered.

This will be as well the year for the internet big influencers and masters of ceremonies with REAL PR SKILLS, such as all the secondary participating agents of an event as hostesses, chefs, assistants, coaches and entertainers, who will have necessarily to play a new more ¨human¨ role on behalf of the ¨interaction¨. They will become an strategic active part of the new events generation.

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The cyborg anthropologist Amber Case (USA, 1987) said it clearly just four days ago in Madrid: ¨Technology is not bad, but its use is disconnecting us. We will solve it giving space to think and live real experiences¨.

Innovation vs. Improvement in events.

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-I am deeply mindful of this.-

What is an ¨innovation¨?.  Where are the ¨innovations¨ at the whole IPhone´s history?. Probably, as global speaker Gijs van Wulfen says in his wise article (highly recommended), the only real innovation comes with the first IPhone´s version, when nothing existed before. After this, everything becomes an ¨improvement¨ in the whole process, even tough everybody finally perceives the IPhone as a ¨constant innovation¨ process. Here we would enter now the field of the ¨commercial strategies¨.

And this an appropriate example for what I want to mean in these lines today.

¨Innovating¨ is, for instance, generating a first worldwide hotel in Japan managed by robots. Technology supplies the human relations, and destiny lies in the artificial intelligence´s hands. That is today a complete revolution that might get successful in the future, or in the other hand, it could be a total failure. This is the risk that ¨innovators¨ assume when they are pioneering. In this case, this hotel was created ten months ago in Tokyo, and probably we will know the final balance of the action in minimum two years .

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SHOULD AN EVENT BE ¨INNOVATIVE¨ THEN?.

 

In the events industry, time frames are regularly associated to the ¨present results¨, so I guess it is really impossible to ¨real innovate¨ as we know the concept, without waiting for a minimum 2-year long process of analysis and monitoring before we decide if that ¨real innovation¨ worked. In this sense, innovation is not ¨magic¨, just lottery is if you are really lucky. This means, you do not have literally the chance for ¨experimenting¨, unless money is not a first priority.

As I said above, ¨innovation¨ gets into a ¨commercial perception¨ for all the communication strategies. Everything gets ¨desirable¨ when it is conceived as ¨innovative¨, and all the current markets for whichever field you want to imagine now, work like this (who did not ever read anything about an ¨innovative¨ product, idea, person or place?). Andrew Weinreich was a real innovator with his first social network (SixDegrees), and later Mark Mark Zuckerberg became the real ¨developer¨ who reached the success through the improvement. That is ¨Facebook¨.

This artificial-commercial status about ¨innovators¨ is usually not a real fact about ¨innovation¨ (in my opinion), when many times it just becomes a kind of ¨experimental laboratory¨ for new experiencers, that just sell their products from their buyers´ trust. Sometimes ¨innovative¨ actions do not improve results, they just create intangible concepts (..the IPhone´s detractors know this very well). It is well known for instance, that computer programmers do not like to use the latest versions of the operating systems, and they prefer using their current ones while they work, until the new versions in the market are completely established against failures. So the question for all of us in this moment is: ¨Why innovate?¨.

 

IMPROVEMENT IS THE BEST INNOVATION.

 

The concept of ¨innovation¨ should always be shared with a real perception about what your actions contribute for your target; ¨how¨ you optimize your strategy according to your tools. Otherwise, ¨innovation¨ might get the risk of becoming just a ¨disappointment¨ for your audience, according to the expectations generated before executing an action. An innovation should not go further than ¨what I can do my best for my audience to feel their best¨. In this way, I always say to my clients ¨improve yourself making everybody perceive you are innovating. But just improve, forget the risk¨. All the most successful cases worldwide do not risk in ¨innovative ideas¨, when their processes still work perfectly. Politicians, celebrities, multinational corporations… they are all in a constant ¨improvement¨ in search of the optimization, making their strategies adequate to the real needs. ¨Innovation¨ is for scientifics, and ¨vanguard¨ is for artists. A good event planner should battle for the ¨EXCELLENCE¨.

 

HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY EVENT THEN?.

 

I guess this is something that today is not being considered as relevant as should be. In fact, now you can see relevant ¨event gurus¨ that are repositioning their strategies as new ¨event consultants¨ for big companies. There is currently a huge new niche for them. They advise their clients about what is innovative and what is not, where should they invest and where should not, who they should work with and who not… They ¨optimize¨ the sector according to the new rules, the new tools and the future potential (…and that is great, we really need them). But they will never try to ¨experiment¨ when they are forced to demonstrate results.

In this way, I know very well Mr. Fermin Perez -ex CEO from ¨Global Events¨ agency, one of the biggest references in the events industry worldwide- for his new reference ¨Event Maker¨ in Spain, and I know for sure he would never put a penny in risk from his clients, when he is speaking about ¨innovative ideas¨. His most powerful resource is ¨CREATIVITY¨ in the artistic direction; when a group of mermaids can be more powerful than the latest app.

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Then, WHO NEEDS TO RISK WHEN YOU JUST CAN BE ¨CREATIVE¨?.

 

Lots of companies pursue the ¨surprise¨ for their targets within technological/conceptual ¨innovations¨ that can make them different from their competition. This is understandable, but I think they are mistaking when they are ignoring that the final balance of every event, is more related to the human perception for the network relations perceived in the action, than just ¨technology¨.  ..And today lots of event planners sadly fall in similar mistakes.

You can make a presentation of a new car in the market that comes flying from the sky, dress the venue with a last generation´s led lighting effects, make everybody interact with a huge screen through their mobiles,.. you can ¨innovate¨ with all these things, but if people do not how to use the interacting system, or if they forget ¨who¨ they have surrounding them, if the attendants just enjoy the event as ¨individual automatons¨, if you definitely do not make the whole context behave ¨HUMANLY¨, definitely you will be wasting your money.

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In this case, innovation will never get into the improvement but the ¨instant impact¨. That is no bad (..who does not like special effects?, I love them!), but I guess you should never base your event just on ¨innovation¨. Relevant worldwide references like ¨Cirque du Soleil¨ (Canada) or ¨La Fura del Baus¨ (Spain) are famous for that other powerful tool which, beyond technological innovation, it is simply called ¨IMAGINATION¨.

 

This rule is completely applicable to many other environments, and this is why my professional claim will always be ¨IDEAS THAT WORK¨. Forget ¨experimenting¨, and let´s go for the improvement. Do not jeopardize results; there is no better invention that what never failed before. IPhone knows it too, and its batteries never exploded. Samsung was in the forced moment to ¨innovate¨.

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A new reference for ¨expat events¨ in Spain.

Some people are asking me for deeper information about my new project of managing events in Spain. …All right let´s go:

After ten years building my professional career in Spain, and after ten more living expat experiences abroad in England, Cuba and Mexico, I have decided to settle back to Spain. I know beginnings are always difficult, but at the same time I am aware of this solid cultural and professional ¨grounding¨ that I currently have, which makes me feel strong to face this new life stage.

This is the first and biggest key to consider the whole new context I am already involved in. In a country where most of the events organizers have not lived abroad for long periods of time, this is something that probably makes my ¨difference¨ among my competitors. People that usually can not sense the real ¨soul¨ that has a foreign need in Spain according to its social and cultural roots, strategies and local targets. In this way, I always say you have to know how to miss in the distance, how to suffer bad news when you are not at the place at the moment, and how to love at thousands of miles away. I am sorry if I am generating with my singular approach any reasons for contrariety in some professionals’ minds here in Spain, but ¨this is it¨.

(With Alberto Granados and family, the traveling companion of Che Guevara during their 1952 motorcycle tour in Latin America. Hemingway Marine, Havana. Cuba. Year 2010).

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(One of my most horrible moments in my life, Ecuador earthquake in the distance. Year 2016).

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Obviously travelling makes you an ¨open minded¨ person, but this is not the only route to reach ¨accomplishment¨. At the same time you need a convenient background, that makes your decisions and your steps ¨convenient too¨. That’s one of the reasons why I feel proudly lucky for having worked during long years in the fields of Marketing and Communication, such as provider or client, living unique experiences that gave me a proper vision for a budget optimization, according to the service quality. I was once managing events for the ¨Global Events¨ agency, the biggest reference in Spain in that time, and with no doubt, my best life-school. Its manager Fermin Perez was ¨THE¨ real visionary in this sector of managing unique events in the Spanish domestic market. With him I had the chance to deal and close a tough negotiation for a convention of Renault-Spain in the city of Seville (Lebreros Hotel, 430 rooms, the whole exclusive venue for Renault), presenting the new version of the ¨Clio¨ car for the worldwide market. We organized as well the annual convention for Vodafone-Spain at IFEMA-Madrid, with a special performance of great musicians from Mayumana. ..That was the ¨golden era¨ in this country before crisis devastated everything.

THE EXCLUSIVITY OF THE FORMULA ONE WORLD.

I was managing as well corporate communication issues in ¨ING Nationale-Nederlanden¨ Insurance Company in Spain, for the years of the ING-Formula One sponsorship with ¨Renault Sport F1 Team¨, and renowned driver Fernando Alonso. This experience made me grow professionally as never before. In those days I had the chance to deal with VIP clients at the paddock in Barcelona and Valencia, and with journalists and sales force executives for their incentives at the training sessions at the circuits. All this, shared with special sales and lead generation campaigns through fair booths and golf incentives all over Spain. ..Awesome.

AT THE ORIGINS OF THE DIGITAL ERA.

I was managing online graphic design projects for big accounts in ¨KIBS¨ at Iberdrola Group in the early 2000s, which was the main reference in those days too, and which I feel so proud of within my personal career. With them I had to defend our corporate website proposal for Santander Bank, in a presentation attending the whole directive chapter from the bank (..we finally won that battle!). Those were the times when the term ¨usability¨ for instance, was just a weird word in Europe that was coming from the far USA. Today, one of the biggest gurus in this field at Silicon Valley (Alfonso de la Nuez-Userzoom) lived those experiences in KIBS too.

A WORLD ROLLER.

I have been also freelancing for the Cinema Festival and the Fashion Week in Vitoria-Spain, the Starlite Festival in Marbella-Spain, and the ex Director-General of UNESCO Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza. I have been curating art exhibitions in Mexico and Peru, as well as an art catalogue for a private collector in Italy. I managed my own swings bar in Mexico where locals and tourists had fun all together with rock concerts. I played football in that country in a lost hidden ranch surrounded by 15-year old narco teenagers armed with kalashnikovs (..who has the ¨balls¨ to score a goal in that context?!). I have been serving as private waiter at the vacation residence of the ex Prime Minister of Spain Mr. Jose Maria Aznar, performing with the Tropicana Cabaret dancers in Cuba…  Well I know, most of you might be thinking now ¨What a crazy life!¨, but in the other hand, I guarantee they are all wonderful and opportune learning experiences that make you realize how important ¨full dedication¨ is, for the final success of each action you are involved in. From all these varied people met on my life path I can loudly say:

¨RESPECT MAKES YOU A BETTER HUMAN BEING¨.

(With Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza and artist Gus Gracey. Ramon Areces Foundation, Madrid. Year 2015).

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(With Renault Sport F1 Team hospitality members in Montmelo circuit. Barcelona. Year 2008).

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(Dancing at my bar in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Year 2012).

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AS A CONCLUSION:

I read once from the Brazilian poet and traveler Ana Claudia Antunes ¨Life always gives us another change. It is called ¨To move on¨. Well, I think this is already a claim for my entire life, and this is how I will treat everybody I will meet on my route from now on. You do not always know ¨who¨ you are dealing with, ¨what¨ their past experiences are, but what you really DO KNOW is that everybody deserves your attention, in the same way you would like them to pay attention to you. And the only condition for this to happen, is to be surrounded by proactive people that want to ¨move on¨ in the same way you are considering it. If you are one of those, I am pretty sure we will build amazing experiences together. …¨Proactivity¨ is the last key for everything.

www.jmaspain.com       I       Handling all group sizes of incentives, travel business conferences, weddings, sports activities and holidays in Spain. Public Relations.

Planning  .  Execution  .  Promotion  .  Design

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Big (huge) thanks to Ms. Manuela Dhedin for her invaluable style rules which I blindly followed.

Manuela Dhedin. Responsable Communication Marketing # Quadrilingue # MBA Sorbonne Business School. LinkedIn