With an increasing number of companies mandating a work from home policy, employees are now tasked with a new challenge – to remain just as efficient outside of their regular working environment. Here are a few of V&VPR’s top tips to stay productive:
- Get dressed and stick to your routine
Nothing says “it’s a work day” like a regular morning routine, so why should working at home be any different? Stick to the rhythm of a normal work day and get dressed to mentally prepare for the day ahead.
- Create a workspace
As tempting as it might seem, avoid working in bed and set up a designated workspace. This will help maintain a good sitting posture, avoid any distractions and most importantly, leave the work behind at the end of the day.
- Set boundaries with others at home
For people living with families, partners or roommates, working from home without distractions can be a challenge. Let them know about the new arrangement and set specific working hours during which you prefer not to be disturbed.
- Take a break and get moving!
Take a 15-minute break every 75 to 90 minutes and ideally, this break doesn’t include any screen time. Some of our favourite suggestions include exercise outdoors, doing a home workout or having a tea-break with a friend. Popular fitness gurus Cassey Ho and Kayla Itsines have created short at-home workouts that are ideal for times like these.
- Stay in contact with colleagues
Make sure to check in with your team regularly through messaging platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp, or even video calls on Skype or FaceTime. Keeping each other updated is a good way to ensure everyone remains united and on the ball, even when physically apart.
In light of the ongoing Covid-19 situation and the recent travel restrictions enforced, many of us are looking to support Singapore-based hotels for a staycation, or two! Here are V&VPR’s favourite staycation packages:
Located in Singapore’s bustling Chinatown, Six Senses Maxwell is set in a block of heritage shophouses and boasts a state-of-the-art spa, gym and a rooftop pool. The Weekend Great Escape offer includes daily breakfast, 30% off a-la-carte menu items and 30% off select treatments at Spa Pods.
The boutique riverfront hotel is situated on buzzy Robertson Quay and offers guests the perfect staycation. The Weekend Special Offer includes complementary use of Tokyo Bike’s for guests to discover the sophisticated neighbourhood and enjoy the vibrant dining and lifestyle offerings on the hotel’s doorstep. Guests will also enjoy breakfast at Marcello, full access to the gym and lap-pool and late check out on Sunday – to enjoy an afternoon stroll along the river.
Located on Sentosa, Capella is the ideal sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s city life. The property resides on 30 acres of lush rainforest and is a serene destination to relax and rejuvenate. The new Sentosa Golf Getaway allows guests to enjoy a round of golf at the award-winning Sentosa Golf Club, voted the “World’s Best Golf Club”, before retreating to the privacy and luxury of Capella Singapore. Specifically tailored for couples, the Perfect Time for Two package allows guests to pamper themselves with a rejuvenating spa retreat at the property’s award-winning Auriga Spa. The getaway is complemented with delicious breakfast at The Knolls, and cocktails at Bob’s Bar with stunning views of the South-China Sea.
Singapore’s most famous landmark, and for many a bucket-list hotel with its picturesque infinity swimming pool, Marina Bay Sands is offering an exquisite staycation package. The bundle includes a complimentary room upgrade, early check in, breakfast at RISE restaurant, Spago Bar & Lounge, Adrift or in-room dining, access to the famous swimming pool and 1-for-1 cocktails at Adrift. This offer is also inclusive of free cancellation – allowing guests to book with confidence.
Sustainable eating has become the biggest trend over the last couple of years. Eating sustainably urges us to choose foods that are healthful to our bodies and the environment. There are plenty of restaurants in Hong Kong that are taking a sustainable-approach, here are a few of V&VPR’s favourite haunts in Hong Kong:
Located in Sino Plaza in Causeway Bay, chef Seth Rogan brings contemporary British cuisine to Hong Kong through his creative menus at Roganic. The restaurant first opened up in London and was recently introduced in Hong Kong in February 2019. Rogan’s classic British dishes are made from local, fresh produce from local farms and suppliers.
A restaurant that pays tribute to a new-world culture that celebrates diversity, juxtaposition and a melting pot of influences, John Anthony pushes the boundaries by fusing Chinese food with a Western twist. The restaurant is eco-friendly, with sustainability included in every aspect of the design – from upcycling plastic into coasters, menus made from recycled paper and floor tiles made out of reclaimed terracotta from old Chinese village houses. The wines are all from environmentally responsible vineyards, and spirits from distillers that focus on craft distilling. The kitchen uses a food composting system to reduce its waste, and menus are curated with fresh ingredients from ethical suppliers.
MANA! has been pioneering the sustainable market in Hong Kong. Serving “fast slow food” through inspiring vegetarian menus and operating a strict zero waste policy – MANA! Has saved over 100 tonnes of food waste by composting its vegetable-only scraps. Other eco-friendly iniatitives include sourcing biodegradable takeaway packaging, and hiring full time staff to sort and transport the food waste for composting.
Potato Head is home to various original lifestyle concepts, including authentic Indonesian restaurant Kaum. The culinary collective has developed engaging relationships with ethnic tribes and small-scale producers in Indonesia to craft a menu that showcases genuine flavours that reflect Indonesia’s heritage
Oolaa is a chic restaurant and bar that debuted in Hong Kong in 2009. Serving a selection of tasty seafood dishes that are all MSC Certified, Oolaa ensures sustainable practices using responsibly sourced ingredients.
The world of luxury is changing and wealthy consumers are becoming active participants to save our world from extinction. As a result, luxury travel brands are changing with the times to become more sustainable. Protecting the environment is paramount in high-end experiential travel and MATTER’s 2019 report promotes how travel brands can adapt to survive and remain connected with their consumers through three main trends:
Consumers seek self-fulfilment through the new sustainable luxury
There is a growing demand of luxury sustainable travel due to a developing demographic of socially conscious, high-net-worth consumers who are increasingly rejecting overt displays of wealth in favour of inconspicuous and responsible consumption. These elite customers value green, inconspicuous luxury and are driven by self-fulfilment and personalised experiences. And so, luxury travel and hospitality is being redefined to incorporate artisanship, authenticity and sustainability, as well as ethical living. Experience and transformation have become the new currency for these next-gen jetsetters, who seek self-fulfilment through green travel, while ‘doing good’ for people and the planet.
Future consumers will invest more in sustainable luxury travel
High-net-worth wealth is transferring into younger hands at a fast rate. According to the study, 72% of Millennials and Gen Zs would pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to social and environmental change. Therefore, these consumers are more willing to invest in sustainable luxury travel and value green brands more than their predecessors. The young elite are reshaping philanthropy by seeking more ways to give back, and the travel industry is supporting their mission through new initiatives from one-off donations to long-term initiatives and volunteering.
Successful luxury travel brands will make sustainability part of the guest experience
Innovators in luxury hospitality are stepping up to environmental and social challenges, by putting sustainability at the centre of their business model and guest experience. From addressing the rise in veganism to rethinking waste, luxury hotels and resorts are honing their offer to attract future guests. Eco-tourism and conservation brand Singita allows guests to take part in sustainable and community initiatives when on safari, guests can leave a legacy from holidaying with Singita and contribute to their 100 year purpose to preserve and protect the African wilderness for future generations.
To download the report in full, please visit MATTER’s website.
As with any international city, London is awash with traditional tourist sites, from crowded cosy pubs to its famous landmark buildings and vast museums. If you’re planning a trip across the pond to London anytime soon, here are some of V&VPR’s favourite cultural attractions to add to your itinerary.
Whether you’re looking for art or architecture, a visit to London is not complete without an excursion to ‘the world’s leading and largest museum of art and design’ – the infamous Victoria & Albert Museum. The museum has over 2.27 million objects on permanent exhibition; from furniture, fashion and jewellery to ceramics, theatre, sculpture and paintings, you’ll be agog at the treasures within.
Kensington Palace sits parallel to Hyde Park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. As a place of residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th Century, it is a treasure trove of royal paintings, items, wardrobes and interiors. The Orangery, situated in the grounds of the palace, is the ideal location for a cup of tea after exploring the exhibitions.
The Tower of London & Tower Bridge
The Tower of London is at the heart of much of Britain’s history, William the Conqueror built this London fortress in the 1070s and now, nearly 1000 years on, the Tower still fascinates and horrifies residents and tourists alike with its rich and complex history. Home to the Crown Jewels, recognisable Yeoman Warder’s and the pampered ravens, the Tower of London is a must-see when in the capital. From the Tower, visitors can also see what is arguably the most famous bridge in the world.
The world’s largest antiques market, Portobello Road Market in West London features over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible you could ever imagine. Whether it be from tiny trinkets to one-of-a-kind antique furnishings, Portobello Road Market has something for everyone.
On Friday 7th February, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits hosted a preview event in Singapore for their exquisite range of lovingly crafted alcohol-free, classic spirits.
Ruby Warrington, author of Sober Curious and founder of the movement, was present to share her personal experiences, assess the history of drinking, and help re-evaluate our perception of alcohol.
The sober curiosity movement has seen a sharp increase in traction over the last few years, as people have become more in-tune with their own personal wellness journeys. It has been increasingly reported that Gen Z is the least-boozy generation to date, with more pressure at school and work being cited as the main reasons behind this change.
But what exactly is sober curiosity?
According to Ruby, it’s exactly that – to be curious about sobriety:
“[Being sober curious] means, literally, to choose to question, or get curious about, every impulse, invitation, and expectation to drink, versus mindlessly going along with the dominant drinking culture.”- Ruby Warrington
Often, Ruby argues, we drink on autopilot, with the expectation to drink at social occasions being firmly rooted in society. The sober curiosity movement encourages a judgement-free exploration of one’s relationship with alcohol and conscious drinking.
Drinking is socially ingrained
From weddings and birthday parties to work events and holidays, we commemorate many of life’s greatest moments or achievements with alcohol, with Champagne in particular being synonymous with celebration. Often, people declaring that they are abstaining is met with resistance by other members of the party, or else it is assumed that there is an underlying reason – namely pregnancy or alcoholism – behind the decision.
A rise in month-long sober social experiments such as ‘Dry January’ and ‘Sober October’ are becoming more commonplace, suggesting that people are looking for an ‘excuse’ not to drink, but how can the movement shift these mindsets and allow sober curiosity to become accepted, as opposed to reinforcing the notion that you either drink or you don’t.
So, what’s the alternative? Living sober curiously
The movement towards sober consciousness has inspired the creation of and market for viable non-alcoholic alternatives, which offer those opting out of booze a tasty, ‘grown-up’ tipple to enjoy. Brands such as Lyre’s are paving the way, lowering the ‘barrier to entry’ for the sober curious club and creating a talking point, bringing the questions of sobriety to the forefront of the conversation.
Every Lyre’s spirit is designed to look, taste and sashay around the palate just as its alcoholic counterpart might, whilst allowing drinkers to remain clear-headed and in control. Lyre’s will be available in Singapore from mid-March, and we can’t wait!
For more information on Lyre’s, and to take a look at their full range and recipe suggestions, visit their website.
If you are interested to learn more about Ruby Warrington and her journey towards sober curiosity, you can purchase her book ‘Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Deep Connection, and Limitless Presence Awaiting Us All On The Other Side of Alcohol’ here.
As the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV continues to spread across the globe, the travel industry has taken a hit. In an attempt to curb transmission, the World Health Organisation has issued a ‘do not travel’ advisory for China, and more commercial airlines have suspended or services in and out of the country.
Outside of China, too, many companies and individuals are cancelling or postponing travel plans for fear of being infected, with the travel industry losing millions of dollars as a result. Inbound travel to countries such as Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam is being heavily impacted by the lack of outbound travel from China, which poses the question: how can hotels and other travel companies minimise the long-term impact of the virus?
- Slash prices: whilst it can be tempting to try and out-price, it’s vital that luxury hotels remember that the outbreak is temporary, and will not last forever. Lowering rates is damaging to brand equity and positioning, and can be detrimental in the long run
- Believe fake news: tabloid press and social media tend to indulge mass hysteria in times of crisis, and it’s vital for companies to remain calm and avoid speculation. Refer to the World Health Organisation and the local authorities for reliable updates
- Overreact or underprepare: whilst hysteria and panic will be detrimental, it’s also important to have contingency plans in place, so these are ready to implement if required. Consider the potential repercussions on operations should the situation worsen and be prepared to respond
- Appeal to the local market: with business and leisure travel being largely kept to a minimum, it’s important to address the local market in the immediate future, who are likely to be seeking new experiences closer to home
- Plan ahead: it’s important to have a crisis communications system prepared in case of worst-case scenario, including social media responses, media statements, and guest communications
- Strategise for recovery: use this time to relook at your 2020 Marketing Strategy so that you are ready to actively promote your brand when the time is right. People’s general attitudes towards travel are likely to have altered, so now is a time to reassure and inspire
A version of this has been featured on PR Week.
Last night, V&VPR attended the annual Skift Megatrends event which looked into the future of travel in 2020. As the travel industry’s premier intelligence brand, Skift deciphered and defined trends for the coming year. Here are this year’s key themes:
For years, the travel industry has known that its next big opportunity is Gen Z, as they are a travel-savvy generation and research shows that they are heavily involved in trip planning. This year, many of them are entering adulthood and will soon have the money and autonomy to take control of their own trips and companies need to make sure they entice them through environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Therefore, the travel industry should be leaning towards transformative travel that gives back to the environment; for example, Dutch airline KLM’s ‘fly responsibly’ campaign, which encouraged customers to invest in its carbon-offset scheme, pack lighter, and even consider flying less!
New concepts of urban living will start to evolve in 2020, ensuring cities are even more attractive destinations for both working, living and visiting. And so, hospitality brands need to rethink the role they play for both visitors and residents. Mixed-use developments that include restaurants, shops, offices, hotels and rental spaces are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a compelling experience for both residents and tourists – offering visitors a true ‘local experience’.
Customer loyalty means more than simply giving them rewards, today it has evolved with consistent engagement, and so travel is evolving to embrace a membership model that touches on aspects of a traveler’s life beyond their trip. This year the travel industry will aim to engage guests through experiences that tie into emerging and existing lifestyles through subscriptions and memberships that put the customer first, such as loyalty programmes, to create lasting relationships with consumers.
Tourism boards and destination marketers are increasingly aiming to protect and not just promote destinations. Sustainable tourism has now come to mean tourism that local residents and stakeholders feel good about and increasingly, the travel industry is striving to ensure this. Skift predicts this shift will happen through the use of technology, data and participation in order to improve a traveller, and residents, experience of a destination whilst ensuring preservation.
It was an incredible night of learning and networking, and we look forward to Skift Forum Asia happening in our home base of Singapore later this year.
Record-breaking temperatures, combined with severe drought, have fueled bushfires across Australia, which have been blazing since September.
Over the past two weeks, the fires have further intensified; so far, at least 24 people (including 3 volunteer firefighters) and an estimated half a billion animals have been killed, and over 63,000 sq km of land has been destroyed.
Here are some ways you can help:
Direct donations to charities and organisations who are responding to the crisis:
- Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief – the Australian Red Cross are supporting thousands of people and offering emergency assistance in evacuation centres and recovery hubs across Australia. The Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery also offer psychological first aid to reduce trauma, and emergency assistance such as cash grants for those who have lost their homes
- Salvation Army – Salvation Army teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders in various locations across Australia, with additional teams on standby
- NSW Rural Fire Service – New South Wales is the worth-hit state, with over 1,300 houses having been destroyed to date. Donations made to NSW RFS or other local Rural Fire Brigades directly benefit volunteer firefighters, who are playing an integral role in combatting bushfires
- NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) – WIRES have been rescuing and caring for native animals for over 30 years. Thousands of volunteers are dedicated to rescuing and caring for sick, injured and orphaned animals –in December 2019, they attended over 3,300 rescues
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital – the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have been working alongside National Park teams to rescue koalas from fire grounds. Once admitted, the koalas are rehydrated and treated for burns. Some of the funds raised will also be used to create a ‘Koala Ark’ to rehabilitate surviving koalas
- Adelaide & Hills Koala Rescue – Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue are the largest group of experienced & dedicated Volunteer Koala Carers and Rescuers in South Australia
Shop sensibly through fashion brands who have pledged to donate a portion of sales to help the charities and organisations who are on the frontline:
- Frank Body – for the entire month of January, skincare brand Frank Body will donate 100% of all sales of their A-Beauty scrub to Wires, the Country Fire Authority and the NSW Rural Fire Service
- Lee Matthews – Australian fashion brand, Lee Matthews, will be donating 50% of all sales online and in-store to a different charity every day this week (ends 12th January)
- Barrineau – until 12th January, all sales made by US-based hangbag company, Barrineau, will be donated to WIRES Wildlife Rescue
- MLM Label – 30% of all online sales made before 12th January will be donated to Red Cross Australia and WIRES Wildlife Rescue
Buy from the Bush – new social initiative, Buy from the Bush was created in October to showcase small businesses based in drought-affected areas, which have been impacted by the fires. Buy from the Bush shines a spotlight on these businesses in order to help stabilise the economy and invest in the future of these communities.
Dine to donate – several Australia-based restaurants and chefs are planning special dining events and menus, the profits of which will be donated to help the relief efforts:
- Cook for the Bush – Nomad (Sunday 12th January) – beginning at 10am, Cook for the Bush will see some of Sydney’s top chefs collaborate on a custom à la carte brunch menu that’s available until 3pm, as well as a range of takeaway baked goods.
- Icebergs Sundays Icebergs Dining Room and Bar (12th January) – this iconic, Insta-famous hangout is hosting another of its popular Icebergs Sundays shindigs, with all bar proceeds being donated to Rural Aid Australia
- Isabel Bondi – Isabel Bondi will donate all profits and tips made until 19th January to WIRES Wildlife Rescue
Our thoughts are with Australia and all those who have suffered. We believe that every little helps, and urge you to take action today.
V&VPR discusses why Southeast Asia lies within the highest level of optimism for PR industry profitability than any other global economy–and how the travel and tourism sector presents huge opportunities for regional communications specialists.
Demand from Western Travellers
With Singapore as the cosmopolitan, future-proof regional gateway, and its connectivity to the rest of the world continuing to increase, Southeast Asia’s unconventional ‘off-grid’ destinations are stepping into the global spotlight more than ever before. The growth is influenced by increasing demand from Western travellers – according to a report by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the largest growth of tourist receipts in Southeast Asia comes from the Americas, with a predicted rise of 12.1% by 2020. Singapore Airlines reinstated the world’s longest direct flight between NewYork and Singapore at the end of 2018, with plans for a direct Los Angeles flight in the pipeline. The ‘undertourism is the new overtourism’ paradox has resulted in increasing numbers of travellers wanting to tick off the not hot list to reach untouched destinations–and now is the time for travel and hotel brands to work with PRs attuned to the intricacies of the markets which were previously inaccessible corners.
Confidence from Global Travel Brands
The Waldorf Astoria opened its first hotel in the region in Bangkok in August 2018, the Six Senses opened two flagship properties in Singapore in 2018, and the One&Only will open its first resort in Southeast Asia in Malaysia in 2020. Most significantly in 2018, International Luxury TravelMarket (ILTM) debuted in Singapore, reaffirming the region as an independent hub for luxury travel – the first time the highly coveted show forayed outside of China as its sole Asian base. Focussing on Southeast Asia’s growth specifically, ILTM Singapore collectively brings together international and regional luxury travel suppliers to boost and build their businesses from this region. With so many brands fighting for their share of the limelight, investment in public relations continues to increase, with new infrastructure being implemented each year to support the growth of the industry. The Institute of Public Relations Southeast Asia Alliance, an independent, non-profit research foundation based in the United States dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations, launched at the Singapore Management University in 2017; and in 2018, the PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Authority) was founded in Singapore, further cementing the groundwork for PR professionals in the region.
The Media Landscape in Integrating and Evolving
In contrast to the USA, Southeast Asia has always been ‘mobile-first’ and therefore leads a new wave of media consumption – ‘Asian media consumption leads us to form an understanding of the global future news consumer’ says Uptin Saiidi, a journalist at CNBC International. Whilst London and New York have been iconic media epicentres of the past decades, sustained economic growth and rising affluence in the Southeast Asia region means the media industry here is catching up at speed, with a flourishing scene of fresh journalism and international media publishers. Companies such as ACP, Edipresse and Fairfax Business Media are some of the top international magazine publishers who have established their presence in Singapore. The Michelin Guide launched in Singapore in 2016, New York Times T Style magazine launched inSingapore in 2017,CNBC Thailand and CNBC Indonesia were established in 2018, andVogue Hong Kong launched in 2019 – with eyes on Singapore next. In 2018 the IMDA (Infocom Media Development Authority) developed grant initiatives for local media talents to form tie ups with global content creators, further elevating the opportunities for local press.
This, coupled with social media and the travel ‘influencer’ phenomena, is creating a saturated and sometimes overwhelming landscape of channels and increasing numbers of travel brands are turning to experienced PRs for strategic counsel. Part of the appeal of the region to the traveller is what makes it so complex to navigate; there are multiple cultures, religions, languages and demographics which are reflected in the different media types and require careful consideration–and therefore there is no single PR campaign that can be translated across the different Southeast Asian countries. PR approaches determined by America or Europe won’t necessarily work for Asia, so there needs to be someone familiar with the on-ground nuances of the region.
Over-tourism and Sustainable Destination Marketing
The growth of tourism coupled with user-generated Instagram content driving organic destination marketing can have a detrimental impact. Can Komodo handle the sudden surge in tourism? How can we prevent future repetition of instances such as the 2018 closure of Boracay–a fragile island whose economy was defeated by insufficient resources to cater to the mass of tourism? The single most important lesson from its iconic 6-month closure is for destinations to promote a message of sustainable tourism-travel brands are required to adopt smart communications strategies and PR plays a key role in this. Carefully controlled campaigns are necessary to help areas facing risk whilst re-diverting tourists to new destinations–such as the positioning of Sumatra as the ‘new Borneo’ and Lombok as the ‘new Bali’.