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Want to Be a Trendsetter? Start Here

Think eco-friendliness can’t be fun? Then you’ve never heard
of Club Watt, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It featured a very unique dance
floor: the energy absorbed from all that dancing powered the club’s
electricity.

Finding unique answers to trends was just one of the topics
discussed at last week’s MarketWatch, an event organized by Travel + Leisure at the Museum of Arts
and Design in New York. The theme, “Influencing the Global Influencer: What
Works” was discussed by speakers and an expert panel of those who live on the
cutting edge of trends.

After sales and marketing strategist Peter J. Bates kicked
things off, one of those speakers took the podium: global trends expert Daniel
Levine, executive director of the Avant-Guide Institute. Showiness, he said,
has given way to education, friends and family, self-improvement, and social
responsibility. It’s a trend best seen in advertising, where luxury brands aren’t
featuring celebrities or fast living anymore. Instead, Mercedes is promoting its
safety, TAG Heuer its quality, and Gucci its history.

What's important now, he said, are meaningful experiences. One place to find them: Finland's Kakslauttanen Hotel, where rooms have glass domes to watch the Northern Lights. Another example: Dinner in the Sky, where groups can dine high in the air, suspended by a crane, within view of iconic landmarks.

Eco-awareness is also important, but it’s essential to make
anything “green” so interesting that people want to associate with it, like
Club Watt. Closer to home, the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC, is making
eco-news by raising bees on its roof and using the honey in its restaurant.

So how do you find the influencers and target messages to
them? Social media, of course. That was the topic discussed by Mario Jobbe, social
media and web product management expert, and co-founder of Circos Brand Karma. Social
media, he said, helps in finding what matters to microsegments of the
marketplace and reaching them with targeted messages. His tips: benchmark your
brand against the competition; measure it in all languages; and engage in a way
that’s authentic to your brand. Ultimately, he said, remember that “social media is storytelling.”

Following Jobbe was a panel discussion, moderated by T+L
publisher JP Kyrillos, with those who follow and set trends: Kate Betts,
contributing editor at Time magazine;
Simon Doonan, creative director at Barney’s; designer Thakoon Panichgul; and
Nancy Novogrod, editor in chief of Travel
+ Leisure
.

The panel talked about global trends, which, said Betts, are
often interpreted locally. Panichgul agreed, saying that it’s essential to pay
attention to whether things work on a local level. A popular fashion in, say,
Japan, might never take off in Korea. “It’s ironic, isn’t it,” said Novogrod, “that
while we’re supposed to have a global awareness, there’s an increase in local
consciousness.”

This trend will expand in 2011, the panel predicted, but
with the economy slowly improving, they think we also need to add back some of
the fun that’s been lost the past couple years. Said Doonan: “It’s time to get
back some of our dolce vita.”

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