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

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

After sales and marketing strategist Peter J. Bates kickedthings off, one of those speakers took the podium: global trends expert DanielLevine, executive director of the Avant-Guide Institute. Showiness, he said,has given way to education, friends and family, self-improvement, and socialresponsibility. It’s a trend best seen in advertising, where luxury brands aren’tfeaturing celebrities or fast living anymore. Instead, Mercedes is promoting itssafety, 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 makeanything “green” so interesting that people want to associate with it, likeClub Watt. Closer to home, the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC, is makingeco-news by raising bees on its roof and using the honey in its restaurant.

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

Following Jobbe was a panel discussion, moderated by T+Lpublisher 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; andNancy Novogrod, editor in chief of Travel+ Leisure.

The panel talked about global trends, which, said Betts, areoften interpreted locally. Panichgul agreed, saying that it’s essential to payattention 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, “thatwhile we’re supposed to have a global awareness, there’s an increase in localconsciousness.”

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