Are there particular sectors which you see flourishing despite the circumstances?
Many luxury segments have been insulated due to the diverse portfolios of HNWIs, who are still able to spend. Of course, travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors, but we think it is on track to come back stronger than ever. The UK staycation trend will grow with ‘familiarists not tourists’ booking both British hotels and self-catering options, and by early summer European get-aways will boom, but we anticipate that longer-haul will have to wait until Q4. We have recently won a very exciting new hospitality client, who is defining a new segment, ‘budget luxe’, which is particularly apt for this time. Towards the end of the year, we expect larger villa destinations internationally to thrive where families can re-connect after time apart – we expect our private villa estate client Samujana on Koh Samui to see a significant uptick in enquiries. Travellers are certainly more likely to indulge in further-flung holidays for longer periods of time.
Overall, real estate is one sector that has certainly performed well during the last year, especially country boltholes as many more people plan to escape the city. We have also identified a ‘workation’ trend, where ‘WFH’ office workers can now set up wherever they want (with an internet connection), so international properties have seen increased enquiries. Meanwhile clients such as Old Course Hotel in St Andrews have started to see longer term bookings, and the neighbouring Hamilton Grand residences are giving guests a unique opportunity to stay there through a rental programme. Unsurprisingly, interior design has also boomed with home studies being a top request, alongside general aspirations for upgrades and refreshes as we all stare at the same old four walls.
Our sister company, Mercury Yachts, has not seen a downturn in sales interest, although charters have been slower due to travel restrictions. We expect yachting to flourish once we are let loose from this lockdown as it is a very Covid safe leisure pursuit, and private jets have already and will continue to see good trade.
Do you feel it is a good time for CEOs and other corporate voices to discuss the progress of their sector?
It is an essential time for op-eds and thought leadership – connecting a relatable face to a brand is incredibly compelling, especially when product launches have slowed down. Communicating revised key messages and commenting on relevant trends which position a brand’s C-suite individuals as excellent analysts of the market, able to provide reflection, projections and avant-garde solutions.
As a former journalist, I am obsessed with figures, and we have recently commissioned a white paper on the ‘Future of Entrepreneurship’ for one of our clients – the elite international boarding school Institut auf dem Rosenberg. The content-rich topic was an excellent talking point for the headmaster, in addition to his constantly evolving, very advanced video teaching interface, which saves parents from having to endure traditional online home schooling.
Can you tell us about a particular piece of client work from 2020/21 of which you are proud?
Supporting Knightsbridge Circle, an exclusive travel and lifestyle service based in London (Monaco and Miami outposts are set to launch later this year) with a unique 1:5 staff:member ratio, which last week became the first in the world to provide the vaccine privately. We offered an exclusive to The Telegraph Luxury, which propelled the story to go viral globally. It is a sensitive issue, especially when it is being offered by an elite organisation to its affluent members. Requests started to roll in from literally all over the world and from everyone you would expect, including a full complement of key US outlets: The New York Times, The New Yorker Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC, NBC and CBS, plus wires such as AP, and from the other side of the world, a Japanese TV station.
We turned down the media outlets we suspected would cover the story in a sensationalised manner and only engaged with outlets that had relevant demographics, who would appreciate the pioneering aspect. With tight key messages, we ensured that our clients moral and ethical stance was considered, since they were giving the vaccine to only over 65-year-olds, and only in the UAE, where their general public were already being vaccinated. Mercury is now overseeing a second phase of communications around extending the offering to non-members, coining a new term ‘vaccine vacations.’