MINISTRY OF IDEAS: MEET JEFF CARVALHO, MANAGING DIRECTOR NORTH AMERICA, HIGHSNOBIETY
As a partner at Titelmedia and executive editor of Highsnobiety, Jeff Carvalho knows what’s hot before it’s even happened yet – particularly when it comes to sneakers, streetwear and electronic music. At the helm of Highsnobiety, where he commands a global audience of 12.5 million monthly readers who come for the publication’s inspiring and forward-looking lifestyle coverage, Jeff is an internationally known authority on streetwear culture and as such is frequently quoted in publications like The New York Times, Business of Fashion and Quartz. He is also an increasingly active participant on the speaker circuit – including Ministry of Ideas 2018.
What do you think will define the future of contemporary travel in the next five years?
TL; DR: Experiences are crucial in a culture increasingly beset with ‘FOMO’.
It will really come down to experiences. If we look at what consumers want – and how they shop today – they ultimately want to have some sort of connection to that purchase. When it comes to travel, there’s always been packages to go on tours, and I think reimagining that experience for today’s consumer can be really interesting. There’s so much ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) in today’s world, especially with what you see on Instagram from the people you follow, so hotels, tour groups and guides should make immersive experiences more available. Everyone should have access to those kinds of experiences!
As travel grows increasingly accessible, how can high-end hotel brands provide a cultural experience that stands apart from the rest?
TL; DR: How can hotels cultivate brand loyalty? By giving consumers exactly what they want (and need).
I think that achieving balance and understanding the consumer’s needs will be the biggest challenge. The biggest change will be in how people experience a hotel and the breadth of what the hotel is able to offer them; there’s a consumer who wants hand holding and to be told what they should do, but there’s also the consumer who wants to experience the world and go off on their own.
It is interesting for hotel groups to think about how to get people to become loyal to their brand. How does a hotel group entice someone to visit multiple locations? For the most successful boutique hotel chains today, that means having a unique point of view. The ACE and Standard Hotels, for example, are so successful because they bring a very specific vibe to their brand and although consumers often know what to expect, their vibe is executed in different ways across their different locations. If you walk into a traditional chain hotel like a Hilton or Marriott, they have a simple point of view – consumers know exactly what they’re going to get. These consumers are more likely to be on the road and are staying there to have a clean, reasonably priced hotel experience with fast internet. But in a luxury hotel it comes back to that branded experience and making it unique. It’s about being able to cater to a consumer that is looking to you, the hotel, to really understand who they are as a consumer and create who you want them to be.
What is the best example of hospitality design you’ve experienced in the past year?
TL;DR: Comfort and catering is crucial in order to truly go off-grid.
If I had my choice, I would say that my ideal travel situation is to be somewhere where I’m taken care of and don’t have to worry about anything. I travel to be off-grid. I was recently in Mexico with a large group of people – we stayed in three different residences and in each residence there was probably 10 to 15 people, and we had the luxury of a personal chef. That one perk single-handedly changed everything.
The more comfortable I am with my location, or the venue I’m in, the more I am able to disconnect. The experience as a whole was so different from anything I’ve ever been a part of, compared to travelling solo or with my family, and it completely changed the way I view travelling.