By Jill Innamorati-Varley
The ‘Guru of Cool,’ international trends expert Daniel Levine, gave an inspirational talk on social trends that will save the travel sector from economic oblivion at the launch of Meetings Africa at Johannesburg on Friday (Feb 27).
“Things are not as bad in South Africa as it is in other places. Businesses in general are more careful about how they spend their money — but we need strategies, he said, giving examples of some of the emerging ‘cool trends’. “Trends equal desires which in turn create demands. We need to come up with innovative things to bring about change. Create micro niches — ‘braggable’ and meaningful experiences that people will talk about.”
“Cool trends such as a US product called ‘Dot Gloves’ — ingenious, ordinary wool gloves with rubber dots on the fingertips to use with a PDA in cold weather. They are selling on the Internet like hot cakes.”
South African soccer mums hid in their 4WDs as these
drummers welcomed delegates at the launch of
Meetings Africa in Johannesburg last week
Other examples Levine mentioned include a glassed-domed, see-through igloo-style hotel in the far north of Finland where the Northern Lights can be viewed from the comfort of your bed. In Spain a company called Renova is producing toilet paper in fashion colours, barcodes are being used to create photographs and there’s a cosmetic company that produces stick-on eye shadow in a range of colours and designs. “You see, I’m bragging about these things to you,” he said. “The bottom line is about surprising and delighting.
“Once travel was about hedonism, but now it is more about core values — friends, family, being involved in things — volunteering. ‘What can we do?’”
“Holland has a nightclub with a sprung floor that bounces when danced on and the energy from it creates electricity. There are eco tours in London of areas of green initiatives that are constantly full, in Lisbon they have blindfolded, sensorial tours, led by blind people that allows participants to taste, smell and touch their surrounds, and hotels like the Ritz Carlton that are offering vacations that allow guests to give back to the local communities. Johannesburg has a Baby Hotel which is open 24 hours and the Jumeriah Group has an on-line shop where clients can preorder their requirements, such as cosmetics and toiletries and have them waiting in their room on arrival.
“People want products and services that speak to their needs and these people are speaking to a trend that people want now,” he said.