In just under a week the ‘doors’ will open for the first time on a very different kind of Luxperience. For an industry that is all about experience and grounded very much in the value of face-to-face interaction, the decision to move the event into a fully virtual environment for the first time was not taken lightly. Ahead of next week’s event, we speak to the Luxperience team about what they are most looking forward to and why this year will be a new look for luxury events.
When the pandemic began, large scale gatherings, like international and interstate travel were some of the first activities to be put on hiatus. But as we transitioned to working from home, and getting very familiar with our suburbs, opportunities for seismic cultural change and innovation started to seep into our lives and no more has this been more apparent in the adoption of virtual events.
Virtual takes on luxury
“We felt it was important to continue to provide a platform for the luxury travel industry, to come together to meet face-to-face, and stay up to date on product launches, to ensure each part of our industry are ready to offer these amazing experiences when we can travel again,” says Lynn Ormiston, the architect behind Luxperience’s transition to a virtual event.
As Event Manager of the brand, she recognised that by reimagining the traditional format of the physical event, that the same amount, if not more, business could be achieved online with the help of new virtual platforms and without the same constraints of having to have everyone in one place.
“As event professionals, it feels unnatural to not be in a venue, but we’ve been excited at how open and willing the industry has been to join us on this virtual journey.”
In fact, by opening days to accommodate more time zones, the team have managed to increase appointment capacity and welcome a wider breadth of participants.
New properties that the virtual platform has been able to welcome to the program include, The Hotel Britomart Auckland, an urban designers dream, and New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star hotel on Aucklands’ downtown waterfront and Eso by Skycity a destination hotel built for the most discerning of pleasure seekers.
With European destinations eager to open up and welcome back tourists, going virtual has also allowed large contingents of European exhibitors to take part, and incorporate decision makers who otherwise would not have been able to make a Sydney-based event.
“One tourism board said it was important to keep their clients engaged, supported to boost morale, keep talking travel and stay connected during these challenging times,” adds Ormiston.
Online shopping, the travel edit
With the pandemic accelerating online shopping adoption, this year’s Luxperience will also be a chance for luxury travel buyers and agents to add new destinations and travel products to their online Wishlist’s and Shopping Carts.
“It’s been a tough year for agents across the globe,” says Arnie Lautaimi, Luxperience Buyer Manager. “Despite this we’re seeing a real appetite from agents, particularly from our domestic markets, who are keen to seek out product and there is a real willingness to connect to business any way they can.”
This year’s event will welcome back Virtuoso agencies from Australia including Bayview Travel, Jigsaw Travel and FBI Travel as well as new faces from premium, homebased agents like Savenio and Smartflyer.
“The added value that a premium travel agent can provide cannot be underestimated, especially now and I hope that by keeping the two communities connected, albeit virtually, that we can help our buyers created those bespoke and inspiring journeys that makes them so invaluable to their clients,” he adds.
It’s not only school children who are being challenged to embrace online learning with businesses at every level turning to digital content streams to share knowledge and insights and yet it is perhaps the biggest opportunity for online events and brands.
Without the constraints of locations and the need to collect speakers in one room, the benefits of online conference streams, means events can gain insights from much further afield and introduce new speakers and angles to their education platforms.
“This year, more than ever, the travel industry is desperately seeking reassurance and guidance,” comments Stephanie Bleakley, Luxperience Marketing Manager. “We’re excited that leaders at all levels in the industry and government have recognised that to join our education program.”
In doing so, the team has curated a program that not only addresses the very real need to help the industry chart a course through Covid, but one that can also look beyond 2020 to what the next travel horizon and luxury traveller will look like.
“The luxury traveller of tomorrow will undoubtedly have a different perspective thanks to the covid catalyst. By bringing the industry together to discuss these changes and share their own experiences, it will help us all be prepared to take advantage of the rebound,” she adds.
So while grandmothers master video conferencing, and ‘you can’t book me’ dining spots turn to take away, the events industry has been forced, to embrace their virtual side. But whether virtual or in-person, it seems events will continue to play a crucial part in connecting industries, business opportunities, and the people that drive them, no matter where they are in the world.