Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

New Twists on Eating Local

 

Erik Andrus explains The Vermont Sail Freight Project in their Kickstarter video

Erik Andrus explains The Vermont Sail Freight Project in their Kickstarter video

The eating of eating locally grown food continues to gain steam with new variations on water, land and sea, and novel ones at that.  Road warriors weary of the all too prevalent chain restaurants in airports and on interstate highways, will be delighted to hear that airports across the country are turning to leading hometown chefs for new eateries on the casual side. As reported in the New York Times,  at LAX airport, Michael Voltaggio of Ink and Ink Sack is opening an upscale sandwich shop and Suzanne Goin of the highly regarded Lucques will open a high end deli next month. Chicago’s Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill), Houston’s Bryan Caswell (Reef) and Denver’s Justin Cucci (Root Down) also have new dining spots on tap with extensive menu items to go.  Approaching local from a sustainable transportation model, Vermont farmer Erik Andrus launched the Vermont Sail Freight Project , a low tech approach to both food and energy,that features a 39 foot sailing barge, Ceres, that plies the Hudson River with produce from 30 new England farms. Produce is destined for sale in port towns from Hudson to Yonkers – farmers markets, dinners and parties. In an earlier post on the new phenomenon of the “hobby farmer’ we wrote about urbanites having their own chicken coops for fresh eggs. In the latest twist, a company started a business called “rent a chicken”. For $350 customers can rent a pair of egg laying hens, a supply of food, coop and water dish for a several month period to try it out. All the rewards of backyard chickens for much less responsibility. Sounds like an intriguing idea, but what do you do when you travel? How about a new business idea, hen sitters!?

Online Dating Goes Microniche

GlutefreeSingles

As you probably know by now, we are major proponents of the importance of going niche, even micro-niche having written about its emergence and acceleration since 2005, the founding year of our Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletter. But the latest incarnation surprised us – microniche online dating sites, with services we would never have guessed. We’ve already seen fractioning sites for everyone from Christians, Catholics and Jews, to seniors and millennials; now there are new entrants for farmers, gluten-free singles and devotees of Ayn Rand, The American novelist, philosopher, playwright and screenwriter. Farmers Only boasts 100,000 users with the tagline: “City folks just don’t get it”. (Not sure where that leaves urban farmers). The already ten year old site, THE Atlasphere has 16,000 dating profiles, where followers of Ayn Rand can meet online for conversation and possible meet-ups. Feeling alone, awkward, or a burden because you’re gluten-free? The most recent entrant is GlutenFree Singles that would seem to be a prime target for romantic resorts offering gluten free menus.

What possibly could be next? We’d love to hear your ideas. For a more in depth read,you might enjoy this article in the Wall Street Journal, “Farmer Seeks Same: Looking for Love in All the Niche Places” (love the title).

 

What Millennials Want: Live Branding Case Study

Amherst College

Amherst College

The always innovative Frits Van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, commissioned a study of marketing and branding trends with students at Amherst College. The target market was young adults. The “Live Branding Case Study” was a first for Amherst, his alma mater, and a first for Starwood who has only worked with hospitality schools in the past. Among the questions were “What are your generation’s biggest concerns?”” How will these influence your purchasing behavior”, and “What three initiatives would you commission if you were Starwood’s CEO”?

Survey results revealed that millennials put a premium on businesses that embrace technology and environmental sustainability along with social responsibility in general. This smartphone bred generation wants more from hotel mobile apps, like being able to order room service even while on the plane with a touch of a button, or being able to network with other travelers. The students encouraged hotels to look beyond the onsite facilities to events like in house art galleries, concerts, book clubs and meetings. And what is probably no surprise, the importance of design as an end in ltself, part of the experience.

The insights are valuable but I think what’s most interesting is the idea of going to a liberal arts college to do what they billed as a “Live Branding Case Study”. As described by the editor in an article in Amherst College’s magazine, Van Paasschen wanted to leverage the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education and students’ interests ranging from fashion, real estate and finance to media and contemporary art. The Starwood CEO  said this will be the first of other similar studies, and I’m sure many other hotel companies will follow their lead. Interested in reading more about millennials and marketing? Check out our Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletters.