According to The New York Times and a handful of other media outlets, more than 100 million travel sector jobs will or have already evaporated in the current climate. Over the coming months, resilience will be key. Thankfully, travel destinations and lifestyle brands that may or may not have the opportunity to engage with customers face- to-face, have developed exciting content to satiate even the most deterred or depressed globetrotter. Plus, while Netflix and baking at home can delight, sooner or later the endorphins of being redundantly entertained are no longer novel. Virtual visits via robots that tread the curated halls of our world’s greatest galleries, chateaux, and museums are already up and running at institutions of art and culture in France, the UK, and Japan. Many brands are engaging their audiences through innovative and magnificently produced live programming. In this way, they are bringing together their audiences and communities in ways that had previously not been a focus.
In April, Italian fashion behemoth Prada debuted a series of digital talks exploring culture, fashion, and life via Instagram. “At this moment, in a current landscape being fundamentally reshaped by limitation, it is essential not to allow that limitation to define discussion,” a statement from the fashion house read. “We need to be open, free, and connected.”
To best engage its audience, premium men’s grooming brand The Art of Shaving used Instagram for its virtual barbershop designed to help teach men, stuck at home, the basics of shaving, at-home cuts, and grooming maintenance. “We turned our Instagram channel into a virtual barbershop destination with the goal of helping our community members navigate a small part of this new, uncharted territory,” explained CEO Falguni Desai. Of the 28 posts, with titles like “How to Give Yourself a Fade”, and which involved seven influencer-partners, several had more than 10,000 views.
The Kingdom of Denmark is producing digital content while the country awaits regulations and prepares to once again welcome international travelers. “Our website has a whole new section orientated to those stuck indoors, with multiple ways to experience Denmark from your sofa,” said Kathrine Lind Gustavussen at Visit Denmark. “A livestream piece showing Denmark waking up to spring around the country, watching the waves wash over the beach at Klitmøller strand, or a white- tailed eagle incubating its eggs in its nest are unbeatable ways to relax.”
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ #JourneyInPlace digital program aims to unite people around the love of travel. The Instagram series for the luxury hospitality brand shares at-home tips, tutorials and activities from the brand’s properties around the globe, with live takeovers by a roster of Rosewood tastemakers such as Chef Massimo Falsini and celebrity nail artist Deborah Lippmann.
Culture mavens on the hunt for great exhibitions and some social stimulation have a plethora of options. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was one of the first institutions to launch new online programming and social media initiatives at the start of the pandemic. This will continue through summer with diverse highlights including digital premieres of the opera The Mother of Us All (with music by Virgil Thomson and libretto by Gertrude Stein), the documentary Gerhard Richter Painting, a weekly family story time, and a digital tour of the exhibition Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara. “The Met has long invested in digitizing our archives,” explained Interim Head of Digital, Sofie Andersen. “Thanks to these efforts we were able to pivot quickly to sharing a ‘digital only’ experience of the museum, surfacing our exhibitions and archival content in new ways, as well as developing a fully virtual events program.”
After cancelling its Hong Kong modern and contemporary art fair back at the end of March, Art Basel’s main show, June 18-21 in Switzerland, will feature innovative online viewing rooms. Following VIP preview days, the virtual visit will go from June 19 to June 26, and will be open to the public. “The online viewing rooms will provide galleries with a further possibility for engaging with our global audiences, complementing the essential personal interactions that continue to underlie the art market,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel.
It’s clear that concerts, most sporting events, and festivals will be put on hold more or less indefinitely until an effective Coronavirus vaccine is developed. For now, performing and recording artists, in addition to cinemas and theaters looking to fundraise, are all releasing content digitally and with much aplomb. Dance music superstars Carl Cox, Idris Elba, Boys Noize, and Nic Fanciulli joined forces on May 22nd for the closing party of Defected’s state-of-the-art live stream Virtual Festival Series. It was the ninth and final event in the series, which has been viewed by more than 14 million people from an average of 91 countries per week.
Upscale vodka Belvedere focused on a virtual campaign on its website, “Quality over Quantity,” to celebrate the 214th anniversary of World Cocktail Day on May 13th. “Belvedere’s new initiative aims to spark a conversation, encouraging consumers and spirits enthusiasts to choose all-natural, quality products, over quantity,” said Allison Varone, Vice President of Belvedere Vodka for Moët Hennessy USA. “We launched a range of superfood cocktails, including nine plant- based cocktails that embody our all-natural philosophy. Most importantly, the cocktails are very simple to make at home.” What’s more, on World Cocktail Day, Belvedere paired its Global Education Manager, Alice Farquhar, with lifestyle guru Martha Stewart for a live mixology session broadcast on its Instagram channel to a community of 954,000 followers. “Martha loves Belvedere Vodka. She absolutely loves it,” divulged Varone, who also confessed that she began the first ten years of her career at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
For oenophiles searching for a bespoke coronavirus-era experience, Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar began hosting complimentary one-on-one virtual tours and tastings for its customers via Zoom. “Amid California’s ‘Stay at Home’ order, we wanted to find a way to stay connected with our guests on a personal level,” explained Carlton McCoy, Jr., Master Sommelier and CEO. “Instead of hosting large tastings on social media, we opted for a one- on-one virtual tour and tasting experience.” Heitz’s tour boasts a virtual walk around the historic winery estate, as well as an in-depth tasting of the winery’s current releases.
Simone Gibertoni, Chief Executive Officer at Clinique La Prairie, an indulgent wellbeing and spa resort in Switzerland, had plenty to offer on their new practices and protocols: “Each of our advanced programs at Clinique La Prairie focus on preventative medicine. Each guest will have a single point of contact for all of their meals, in order to minimize exposure to multiple people, in keeping an ultra- personalized experience.”
As a new normal for travel, sporting, and events as well as other hospitality and leisure activities settles into place, options will expand. Travel and social movement about our world will be more feasible and we won’t be stuck with digital diversions. Allison Varone of Belvedere Vodka summed it up best: “Humans are naturally conditioned to be social,” she reasoned. “The need for social interaction and contact is primal.” How right she is.
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