ZAPATA AND TEAM EUROPE JOIN FORCESTO BRING NEW WAYS OF MOBILITY
Zapata Racing is developing into a provider of individual mobility: technology holding Team Europe, led by Lukasz Gadowski, is supporting the company of French entrepreneur and innovator Franky Zapata. Together, they are striving to develop innovative products and position them successfully on the global mobility market.
Zapata Racing is a worldwide leader in developing and manufacturing hydro-flight and jet-powered flight technologies and products. Franky Zapata – “the Flying Man” – has once crossed the English Channel on his flyboard. With its 2016 invention Flyboard Air, Zapata revolutionized the industry and turned a leisure activity into a new extreme sport. The technological breakthrough JetRacer will shape the future of individual mobility. It will be capable of reaching airborne speeds up to 300 km/h and will be able to carry up to 200 kg.
“I consider Franky Zapata a genius engineer and value his humbleness and kindness and culture of delivery and winning”, says Lukasz Gadowski, CEO of Team Europe. “Together, we aim to make Zapata Racing a global leader. From France, we want to inspire the U.S. and the rest of the world. It’s not what you see today at Zapata – it’s the roadmap that is so exciting.”
Franky Zapata, founder and CEO of Zapata Racing: “Lukasz Gadowski is very experienced in building successful businesses. What started to be a leisure activity for extreme sport fans turned into a professional sport and together with Team Europe, we will now go one step further: we will shape the future of mobility.”
About Team Europe
Team Europe is a global technology holding company with the mission to deliver a better future via technology. Its main areas of interest are “Digital & Platforms”, “Mobility & MAaaS” (Micro Aviation as a Service) and “clean abundant energy”.
Team Europe has been building or actively supporting startups for more than 15 years – including the e-commerce company Spreadshirt, the delivery service company Delivery Hero, the solar company Enpal, the mobility provider Miles, the micro mobility company Bird, as well as Volocopter and Archer, two global leaders in the field of Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
After 17 years of career as a Jetski and test pilot, Franky Zapata created the ZAPATA RACING brand in 2008. From design to production and development, Franky has invented his own stand-up jet skis and his ZAPATA RACING brand “Made in France” stand-up VNMs. 17 World Champion titles have been won with his brand. Franky Zapata turned himself to the challenges of innovation and differentiation to ensure the future of his company.
With the release of the first Flyboard waterboard and the public’s enthusiasm, success and worldwide marketing were limited only by the quantity produced. As soon as it was launched on the market, Flyboard became a real sport, with the organisation of the first Flyboard World Cup in 2012 in Qatar; until 2018 different countries followed.
After more than a dozen patents filed and the resounding success of the hydro-propelled machines, Franky Zapata is turning to a new major challenge by realising his dream: to create a redundant flying machine, extremely compact. He decided to name it FLYBOARD AIR.
In 2016, he became famous by achieving the Guinness World Record for the distance covered by hoverboard. Since then, Franky Zapata and his Flyboard Air have travelled all over the world participating in shows such as F1, Moto GP, FIA WEC and Red Bull Air Race.
In 2019, he took part in the 14th of July Parade by giving an aerial demonstration in front of the French President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and several other heads of states.
Franky decided to take up the crazy challenge of crossing the English Channel in homage to aviation pioneer Louis Blériot, who, 110 years earlier, had accomplished the same feat. This prowess was the subject of a documentary produced by Etoile Noire called “Flying”. After a first failure on 25th, July 2019, Franky Zapata did not give up. Thanks to the commitment of its entire team, he rebuilt his machine in a week. In August, the 4th, he made his crossing Channel in 22 minutes.
Surrounded by engineers and supported by a solid Research and Design office, the company Z-AIR continues its ascension by designing and developing new products, with the aim of changing the mobility of the future.
Among several of his confidential projects, one attracts attention, the JetRacer flying machine. This invention is expected to carry out the first official tests before Summer 2021.
We all welcomed the news of vaccine rollouts that started in January this year, but what does this specifically mean for the travel and hospitality industry? How do vaccine passports work? And are they ethical?
Experts agree that we will start to see real progress against the spread of Covid once 70 percent of a country’s population is vaccinated. We’re already hearing more optimistic sentiments from many governments, travel organizations and businesses as countries reach 30% to 50% vaccination levels. Still, the rate of vaccinations varies greatly per country, and this is causing daily changes to the do-not-fly list, which makes it extremely challenging to reliably plan international travel.
That said, there is great optimism in our industry. For example, the International Air Transport Association Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac was quoted in March that “personal and leisure travel will return from the 2H2021. ″
Tim Hentschel, CEO and co-founder of HotelPlanner, we are developing the tools to travel safely in Covid, with vaccines on a worldwide rollout, he discusses how this will affect tourism and hospitality locally and across the world.
Vaccine passports become essential
The European Commission has been the latest body to propose vaccine passports. While there are concerns about discrimination against the unvaccinated, an internationally recognized official certification for vaccinated travelers would help to lift quarantine restrictions and ease the processes of entering other countries.
In fact, Singapore Airlines began piloting a digital vaccine passport in December 2020 and has plans to integrate it into their mobile app by mid-2021.
During the pandemic, travel operators have acted quickly to label hotels that have complied with Covid-19 countermeasures and get the word out to their customers.
In the coming months, we expect operators to start implementing new measures based on vaccine passports that will be in line with government regulations. The simplest way is to have travelers include a vaccine certification as part of their personal details for bookings. These details could then be shared with partner airlines and hotels to facilitate a smoother, less restricted travel experience.
Of note, it’s important to distinguish the vaccine passport initiatives individual countries or international bodies are pursuing versus what some private sector venues are piloting. For example, the Biden Administration clarified recently that they would not be sponsoring or mandating a country-wide vaccine passport and that any related projects would be up to the private sector. Florida’s Governor also recently banned the use of vaccine passports in the state entirely, which could trend in other states. To date, New York is one of the few states that has piloted what they’re calling an Excelsior Pass to verify vaccine status before entering venues like Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center.
Green lanes and travel bubbles will revive suffering travel destinations in the short term
Governments should speed up establishing green lanes or travel bubbles with ‘safe’ countries, where travelers are exempt from quarantine. These partnerships will be critical for bringing life back to economies that rely on service-based and labor-based industries.
Thailand, for instance, has seen an 83 percent drop in foreign tourists. This is a devastating blow that contributed to the Thai economy falling by 6.1 percent in 2020, its worst performance since the 1997 Asia financial crisis.
The Thai Hotels Association estimates at least a million workers have been laid off from its hospitality sector as hundreds of hotels have closed. Domestic tourism and the implementation of special tourist visas for long stays have done little to reverse the pandemic’s impact on the industry.
Thailand’s special tourist visa permits foreign visitors to stay up to 90 days, including 14 days of quarantine, with the option for two extensions. It has attracted only a fraction of the expected 1,200 monthly visitors since its launch in October 2020, likely due to the lengthy quarantine requirement.
India is now experiencing a huge spike in Covid infections, and the USA has added them to the list of over 100 countries that US citizens cannot fly to. As India is one of the US’s largest trading partners, this will hurt both countries with similar effect to the tourism devastation in Thailand.
As we look to the future, there is a golden opportunity for the USA and other developed nations of the world, which have successfully implemented vaccine rollouts, to continue to help countries that are still challenged. This will help the USA, EU, and UN reestablish themselves as global leaders. If all goes well, we could be celebrating a return to near normal by the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
VeriJet: Transforming short-haul private travel with efficient point-to-point jet charter service
By: Heather Skovlund × Armon Hayes × Vaughn Lowery
Envision reserving a private jet in the same manner you would reserve an Uber or Lyft with a ride-sharing app. Richard Kane, CEO of VeriJet, has made that possible with the Cirrus SF50 (Vision Jet) equipped with a small carbon footprint jet and next-level safety features. With Verijet, an individual can search for a private flight and get a response instantly that includes time frame and cost.
“VeriJet is the culmination of a decades long journey to increase the effective speed door to door, reduce carbon and noise footprint and open private aviation to more people – unlocking the fourth wave of high-speed travel” – Founder’s Vision: Richard Kane
Affiliates of 360 Magazine had the opportunity to test the smooth ride and specifications of the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet.
The Vision Jet is a single-engine, very light jet that is often referred to as a personal jet with large windows and the lowest carbon footprint in the world for an airline, saving 1800 pounds of CO2 per flight segment. Designed to fly low and slow with no metal fatigue. The AI Software enables point and click booking with transparent simple pricing for private charter convenience and cost effectiveness. This enables individuals to fly on their own schedule with direct flights to airports closer to their destination. There is no hassle, no TSA to deal with and more importantly, no COVID. VeriJet’s Chief Medical Advisor monitors the COVID-19 Safe travel protocol including testing the pilots routinely for the virus. The aircraft’s cabins are cleaned and disinfected with Ultraviolet C and Ozone between each flight. Each aircraft cabin is also equipped with a special filter that uses nanotechnology to destroy pollutants at a molecular level, including VOCs, viruses 1000x smaller than HEPA filter standard testes, bacteria, mold and allergens, with no ozone by product.
The Vision Jet has a proven Airframe with industry leading safety features focused on all weather capability, safe return automation, and the Cirrus Aircraft Parachute system in addition Autoland – a feature that will calculate the nearest airport and prepare for landing along with contacting emergency services. The engine is strategically placed on top of the jet. The V tail reflects noise up and away for quiet operations at local airports making the jet good for the environment, in addition to the use of biofuel. VeriJet is a green eco-friendly company and is the most environmentally friendly business jet. The Vision Jet has infrared vision which allows the aircraft to get the pilot a reading of what may be on the runway at night. The top speed of the aircraft is 345mph and the top height is 31,000 feet.
One of the better perks to flying with VeriJet is that you have the entire aircraft to yourself or you can bring up to four adults, two children, light bags and pets. Dogs do not need to be in a carrier; however, cats, raccoons and skunks should be on a leash or in a carrier. There is no membership to uphold enabling you to book a flight when you need it at your fingertips. This in itself offers the best private flight experience. There are quite a few family-based flights along with business. There is Bluetooth available to the headsets along with texting and calling for a meeting or a loved one.
VeriJet currently offers Southeast regional travel with plans to expand to the west coast. VeriJet will also be certified to fly to the Bahamas soon and hopefully Canada by the end of the year as well. The Vision Jet’s first flight was on November 2, 2020 from the South Hamptons to Florida. The company was established in July of 2019, received the first aircraft in September of 2020 and its certificate issue on October 29, 2020. There are currently around twenty pilots to help assist with your flight process. There is intensive training for the pilots and customer service type rating to fly in this specific aircraft.
Gisele Bündchen Joins DraftKings as Special Advisor to the CEO and Board for ESG Initiatives
Bündchen to Counsel Company on Environmental and Social Objectives
DraftKings Launches Earth Day DFS Contest as First Step to Reach Goal of Planting of 1,000,000 Trees
DraftKings Inc. (Nasdaq: DKNG) announced the appointment of Gisele Bündchen, environmental activist, philanthropist and former super model, as a special advisor to the company’s CEO and board of directors for environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) initiatives.
“Gisele Bündchen is a global icon who has utilized the platform she established in modeling, fashion, and entertainment, to lead and advocate for vital environmental and social causes,” said Jason Robins, co-founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of DraftKings. “I believe that the strategic counsel and unique global perspective that Gisele brings to me and the board will be indispensable and, as evidenced by our Earth Day campaign, her impact will be immediate and far-reaching.”
As outlined in the company’s recently released inaugural ESG report, DraftKings is committed to fighting global sustainable development challenges, including climate change, in alignment with the U.N.’s sustainability development goals. In collaboration with Bündchen, DraftKings has set a goal of planting 1 million trees by Earth Day 2022. As an initial step, DraftKings has launched several opportunities for customers to directly support the effort, including through charity daily fantasy sports contests and free-to-play pools. In coordination with the Arbor Day Foundation, DraftKings has pledged to plant the first 100,000 trees in several U.S. states, including California, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, Vermont and Virginia.
“I look forward to working with the DraftKings board of directors in continuing to find ways to make the most positive impacts through meaningful social and environmental initiatives,” says Bündchen. “It is very important for successful corporations to make the necessary shifts in ESG initiatives to truly make a difference on a global level. In today’s world, in my opinion, it isn’t enough for companies to just be successful financially. Companies have to be successful in ALL areas, including social impact and sustainability initiatives that impact the future for all of us around the world.”
Bündchen has been recognized in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and 100 Fashion Icons lists, appeared in hundreds of campaigns for the most prominent and iconic brands, graced more than 1,200 magazine covers worldwide and walked the runway in close to 500 fashion shows. She is a prominent supporter of numerous environmental and social projects, including Projeto Água Limpa (Clean Water Project), which implements sustainable environmental water management systems near her hometown in Brazil. In 2020, she launched the Viva a Vida initiative which raised funds to plant over 260,000 trees along the Xingu and Araguaia River in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. Bündchen has also served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Program since 2009.
Bündchen’s status as special advisor to DraftKings’ CEO and board of directors for ESG initiatives is effective immediately. Further information about DraftKings is available at DraftKings and the latest company updates can be found on Twitter.
LEADING AUTOMOTIVE SOFTWARE COMPANIES AUTOFUTURA AND GFORCES MERGE
Merger brings together Autofutura’s real-time data insight with GForces’ leading-edge e-commerce solutions, to create a new auto tech group
Created at a time of rapid digital acceleration in automotive retail, the new group enables car makers, dealers and finance providers to grow the lifetime value of their customers, by accelerating sales, simplifying the customer journey and improving customer retention
Two of the automotive industry’s leading retail software suppliers, Autofutura and GForces, have merged to form a new group. With the rapid acceleration of the digitization of the automotive sales process, the companies have come together to maximize sales efficiency and improve the way consumers buy cars.
The new group, backed by Inflexion Private Equity, sees the combination of Autofutura, the global, data-driven business intelligence provider, with market leading automotive e-commerce and omnichannel supplier, GForces. It also benefits from the expertise of the recently acquired Chrysalis Loyalty business, now an integral part of Autofutura.
The first of its kind in the industry, the new group aims to connect car maker, finance provider, dealer and consumer to optimize the entire customer journey – through the provision of software and data services.
The new group will be led by two highly experienced executives; data intelligence expert Christian Erlandson as CEO and automotive veteran David Riemenschneider as Chairman. Autofutura and GForces already serve 20 of the world’s leading car manufacturers and over 10,000 locations, across 96 countries. Headquartered out of the UK, its global presence includes offices in Australia, Canada, Germany, Vietnam, UAE and the USA.
Christian Erlandson, CEO, commented: “The digitization of the automotive sales process is accelerating at an unprecedented pace and now is the time to combine the expertise of Autofutura and GForces. By merging Autofutura’s data intelligence insight with GForces’ e-commerce solutions, there is huge potential to support our customers in streamlining the consumer journey, accelerating sales and driving revenue from the first transaction.”
Simon Turner, Managing Partner, Inflexion, said: “The combination of Autofutura with GForces unlocks a unique and highly relevant technology proposition for the automotive retail industry, against a backdrop of accelerating change and disruption for dealers and OEMs. We are delighted to be backing this team to create such an exciting auto tech group, by merging two outstanding private businesses with a long track record of growth.”
The newly merged group was advised by GCA Altium, Headpoint Advisors, Higgs & Sons and Taylor Wessing.
Polestar Raises $550 Million from New Investors; Further Fundraising Considered
Polestar, the Swedish electric performance car company, has raised $550 million (USD) from a group of long-term financial investors.
The private placement of newly issued shares marks the first-time external investors have backed Polestar’s products, brand, industrial capability, financial ambitions and high growth potential.
The new investments come as the global market for electric cars is growing strongly, with consumers increasingly prepared to combine e-mobility with their environmental aspirations. Simultaneously, the technology behind electric cars is advancing and becoming more economical, making mass consumer adoption of electric vehicles an imminent reality.
These factors led to Polestar attracting considerable interest from a range of external investors as part of its fundraising activities. Polestar also confirms it is in ongoing discussions with global investors about possible additional fundraising. Full financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed at this stage.
The group of investors is led by Chongqing Chengxing Equity Investment Fund Partnership, Zibo Financial Holding and Zibo Hightech Industrial Investment. They have been joined by I Cube Capital, an arm of SK Inc., the South Korean global conglomerate, and a range of other investors.
The new investment sets the stage for future growth by diversifying Polestar’s funding structure. It deepens the pool of resources available to accelerate product development and technological capabilities ahead of launching several ground-breaking cars in the coming years.
Since the brand’s launch in October 2017, Polestar has developed its own high-quality manufacturing facility in China, built a global sales and distribution operation, and successfully launched two vehicles – Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 to extremely positive customer feedback and media reviews.
“Our new investors have recognized that Polestar offers an alluring combination of established industrial and technological capability alongside superlative growth potential as the global auto industry goes electric,” said Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar.
INTRODUCING BEYOND GREEN: A PURPOSE-DRIVEN HOSPITALITY BRAND DEDICATED TO HELPING GLOBAL CITIZENS MAKE TRAVEL A FORCE FOR GOOD
Forward-Thinking Hotel Network Debuts Booking and Storytelling Platforms That Invite Travelers to Explore How to Travel Gently and Travel Well
Committed to building a better and brighter future for people and the planet, Beyond Green officially launches today as a curated guide for travelers seeking a more purposeful way to explore the world, featuring a global portfolio of 27 hotels, resorts, and lodges that exemplify sustainability in action. Debuting at the onset of a new era of travel in which protecting nature, benefitting local communities, and celebrating cultural diversity has taken center stage, this forward-thinking brandinvites travelers to discover, plan, and enjoy adventures that align with their sustainable travel values and aspirations through a variety of intuitive tools and experiences. These include a new brand website; dedicated storytelling via its @StayBeyondGreen social media accounts; exclusive benefits through I Prefer Hotel Rewards; and a celebratory, limited-time Journeyer’s Pick Package.
“At the heart of Beyond Green is a belief that to travel gently and with purpose is to travel well. More than ever, each of our individual travel choices make a difference, and, together with our outstanding member properties, we designed Beyond Green to make it easier for travelers to enjoy incredible luxury vacations that also support significant social and environmental change for the future,” said Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of both Beyond Green and its parent company, Preferred Hotel Group. “The world has shown an unwavering need to Believe in Travel, and this is our defining moment to inspire a kinder and gentler way to explore the planet together, where good guests meet good hosts.”
“The question is no longer whether we can transform travel based upon sustainable tourism principles and practices to be a powerful force for saving nature, regenerating ecosystems, and providing tangible social and economic benefits to local people, while also celebrating cultural diversity and inclusiveness around the world. This is now happening, as also represented by Beyond Green members. Rather, the most important question is how travelers help can make sustainability the new normal around the world while also having a great vacation. The answer is when we travel the sustainable way – the Beyond Green way – we can have a positive impact right now on the places we visit,” said Costas Christ, Brand Leader of Beyond Green and President of Beyond Green Travel, also an entity of Preferred Hotel Group.
Digital-First Resources for Inspiration and Information
Experiential travelers looking for a more meaningful way to explore the world can now visit Beyond Green’s website for thoughtful, essential resources and tools to book truly sustainable luxury getaways, from Belize to Bora Bora. The new website features highly curated visual content of each member property and the experiences they offer, along with vivid stories about the world of sustainable travel through its Good Stories blog, where novel content, tips and advice will be added on a continuous basis. The brand also invites travelers to engage in daily dialogues about sustainable tourism, inspiring travel experiences, and best practices for being informed global citizens on social media by following its newly launched Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn channels and #StayBeyondGreen and #TravelGently online conversations.
I Prefer Hotel Rewards Member Benefits
As part of the Preferred Hotel Group family of brands, Beyond Green invites travelers to enroll in I Prefer to access meaningful rewards at more than 650 participating properties worldwide. In addition to receiving standard, I Prefer benefits such as points for every eligible stay and early check-in and late check-out privileges, I Prefer members who book stays at participating Beyond Green hotels, resorts, and lodges receive access to exclusive bonus points-earning opportunities that are tied to participation in on-property enrichment activities representative of the three pillars of sustainable tourism. Varying from property to property, these experiences range from an Ecology Tour in San Juan Capistrano at The Ranch at Laguna Beach in California to a specialized lecture on the Gobi Desert at Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia. I Prefer members with Elite-tier status will also receive a welcome amenity or community giving opportunity, in addition to earning 50 percent more bonus points during every eligible stay.
Celebratory Launch Offer
Whether seeking to stay within their own country or satisfy the pent-up desire to dust off their passport and go somewhere new, Beyond Green encourages travelers to seize the moment by taking advantage of a limited-time only Journeyer’s Pick Package, available at 15 participating properties for bookings made by September 30, 2021 for travel through December 31, 2021. Featuring the best available rate plus a unique local experience or meaningful memento exclusively available through this special offer, as well as 5,000 I Prefer bonus points, the Journeyer’s Pick Package include highlights such as, but not limited to:
Traditional sunset Dhow Cruise with snacks and drinks at andBeyond Mnemba Island
Guided walking tour of the Monastery of Panagia Spileotissa at Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas
Body scrub wellness experience using organic ingredients at Borgo Pignano
Polynesian outrigger experience at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
Where Good Hosts Meet Good Guests: The Beyond Green Portfolio
With plans for steady, thoughtful growth, Beyond Green celebrates its official launch in collaboration with 27 inspiring member properties that each take a unique and genuine approach to hospitality while representing sustainable tourism leadership through actionable, measurable efforts:
Americas – andBeyond Vira Vira (Pucón, Chile); Arenas Del Mar Beach Front and Rainforest Resort (Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica), Bentwood Inn (Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA); Blancaneaux Lodge (Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize); Carneros Resort and Spa (Napa Valley, California, USA), Cavallo Point (Sausalito, California, USA); Islas Secas (Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama); Post Ranch Inn (Big Sur, California, USA); Ted Turner Reserves Vermejo (Raton, New Mexico, USA); The Ranch at Laguna Beach (Laguna Beach, California, USA); Turtle Inn (Placencia, Belize)
Africa – andBeyond Bateleur Camp (Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya); andBeyond Mnemba Island (Zanzibar, Tanzania); andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge (Namib Desert, Namibia); Bushmans Kloof (Western Cape, South Africa); Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge (Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda); Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp (Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, Botswana); Wilderness Safaris Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp (Kaokoveld, Namibia); Wilderness Safaris Linkwasha Camp (Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe); Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp (Okavango Delta, Botswana); Xigera Safari Lodge (Okavango Delta, Botswana)
Asia – InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (Bora Bora, French Polynesia); The Brando (Tetiaroa, French Polynesia); Three Camel Lodge (Gobi, Mongolia)
Travelers are invited to access more information on Beyond Green, its three key pillars of sustainable tourism, and its member properties, and book authentic, luxury travel experiences around the world by visiting Beyond Green.
About Beyond Green
Guided by a passion to embrace travel as a force for good, Beyond Green is a global portfolio of hotels, resorts, and lodges that exemplify sustainability leadership. To create a more purposeful way to explore the world where good guests meet good hosts, Beyond Green has curated a unique portfolio of properties based on their commitment to deliver on the three pillars of sustainable tourism: environmentally friendly practices that go beyond the basics; protection of natural and cultural heritage; and contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of local communities. To be considered for membership in Beyond Green, a property is vetted according to more than 50 sustainability indicators that align with global sustainable tourism standards and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Owned and operated by Preferred Hotel Group – the family-owned company that manages and operates other hospitality brands including Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Historic Hotels of America, and Historic Hotels Worldwide – Beyond Green ushers in a new way to experience genuine hospitality by the people for the planet. For more information, visit Beyond Green.
About Preferred Hotel Group
Owned and operated by the Ueberroth Family, Preferred Hotel Group is the parent company of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Beyond Green, Historic Hotels of America, Historic Hotels Worldwide, PHG Consulting, and Beyond Green Travel, representing more than 1,100 hotels, resorts, and residences across 80 countries, in addition to a global portfolio of destinations such as Suzhou, China; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Uganda. With more than 200 seasoned travel professionals situated across 20 countries, the company connects independent hotels, hospitality companies, destinations, and tourism bureaus to key markets worldwide through a variety of strategic branding, sales, integrated marketing, revenue management, and comprehensive distribution services, along with other consultancy services. Fueled by its brand promise, Believe in Travel, the company champions an unwavering belief in the transformative power of travel and its ability to enrich people’s lives and create greater tolerance. For more information on Preferred Hotel Group’s entities, please visit Preferred Hotels, Beyond Green, Historic Hotels, PHG Consulting, and Beyond Green Travel.
Customer Service Tips Every Boutique Retailer Should Try
By: Joseph Heller, small businesses expert and CEO of Supplied!
Supplied makes it easier for small boutique owners around the world to access high-quality, affordable wholesale boutique items, whether to stock their physical store or IG shop.
Do you remember the last time you had a truly fantastic customer service experience?
Maybe a cashier complimented your earrings, or maybe the person at the drive-thru unexpectedly threw an extra taco in for free. Or maybe you were just really vibin’ with the enthusiasm you could hear at the other end of the customer support line. Whatever it was, chances are it made you more excited to return and support that company with your business in the future.
Now… think back to the last time you had an awful customer service experience.
Was someone being unnecessarily difficult while you were trying to return a sweater, you’d bought a week ago? Or did someone leave you on hold for hours and hours? Or maybe someone just would NOT honor your coupon, even though you received it in an email yesterday?
Whatever that bad experience was… I’d be willing to bet it made you a whole lot less likely to go back anytime soon.
As Vince Lombardi famously said, “It takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one.” One poor customer service experience could cause you to lose all of a valuable customer’s future business.
If you haven’t been making great customer service a major priority in your boutique lately, now is the time to change that.
Read on to learn 25 powerful (but easy!) customer service tips every retailer should try implementing in their business.
(If you’ve hired someone else as the main customer service rep for your boutique business, send this article along to them as a reminder!)
Top 25 Customer Service Tips
Focus on the customer in front of you
As a boutique owner, you’ve constantly got about a zillion and one thing that need your time and attention. But when it’s a customer you’re dealing with, zero in on them and their needs. Nobody likes feeling unimportant – make sure you give them your undivided attention while they’re talking to you, whether it’s over the phone, in person, or in your site’s live chat.
Chances are, you’ve been in the exact same situation your customer’s in right now – whether they’re trying to figure out what size shoe to purchase or they’re trying to initiate a return for something that didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. Do your best to see the situation from their perspective. You’ll be able to provide a better customer experience if you’re in touch with their needs and emotions.
Make an extra effort
Work tirelessly to solve your customer’s problems. If a customer wants a certain size that’s out of stock, double-check your inventory, let them know when they can expect that item to come back, offer them alternatives, or give them a discount code for their trouble. Your customers will appreciate you going the extra mile for them.
Customer service isn’t just about making your customer feel valued while you’re speaking to them – it’s also about providing a great all-around customer experience. Do a quick audit of your website and make sure it’s user-friendly. Is it easy to check out? Browse new arrivals? Search for specific items? Purchase using the payment method they prefer? If not, set aside some time to make some adjustments.
Identify their needs
There might be all sorts of things you could be doing to provide a better customer experience that you don’t even realize yet. Put together a short survey to send out to your customers about the checkout process and their past customer service experiences. It’ll show you what’s going well and what you could improve.
Use their name
Simple, but effective. Whenever a customer reaches out to you, take note of their name and use it. It’ll give your communications a more personal touch. (Don’t forget to introduce yourself by name, too!) Bonus points if you remember other personal details about them for next time.
Yes, even if you’re not talking to the customer in person! Make an effort to be friendly and positive, even if you’re just sitting at your desk at home – you can totally hear a smile through the phone, and it makes a difference.
If you could spend $5 to secure a customer who’s loyal to you for life… would you do it? Sometimes, that’s all it takes. When a customer reaches out to you, your priority is to make them happy – offering free shipping or accepting a late return can do just the trick. And that’s not just common sense – research shows that accepting someone’s generosity makes you feel indebted to them, which can translate to return business.
Don’t say “I don’t know”
Sure, you’re not gonna immediately have the answers to every single one of your customers’ questions… but it’s kinda your job to know. So, when you tell a customer “I don’t know,” what they hear is “I don’t care.” Not exactly the message you’d like to get across when you’re on the phone with a customer! Practice saying “Let me check on that for you” instead.
Acknowledging your customer’s birthdays is a surefire way to make them feel valued and appreciated. Ask your customers for your birthday as they sign up for your mailing list, then send them an email with a promo code for a free gift or a discount right before their special day.
Be clear about your policies
Your customers aren’t mind-readers – if you don’t let them know, they have no idea about how long shipping should take, where you ship to, or under what circumstances you accept returns. Be sure your shipping and returns policies are clearly stated on your website to avoid confusion. It’ll answer some questions before they’re ever even asked!
Honor your promises
Your customers need to know that they can trust your boutique to deliver the value it promises. Stick to the shipping and return policies you have listed on your website (unless you choose to go above and beyond them, of course!) Honor coupons and discount codes for as long as you said you would. Post any giveaway winners publicly in your stories. Trust is key!
Acknowledge frequent customers…
Let your return customers know how much you appreciate them! Whether you throw a quick handwritten thank-you note into their next order or you offer a discount code that’s good for their next purchase, it’ll definitely make them want to keep coming back.
But make sure new customers feel the love, too!
It’s a big leap to order from a company you’ve never purchased anything from before – make sure new customers feel super welcome. Acknowledge new customers by offering free shipping on their first order, sending a promo code when they sign up for your mailing list, or even sending a quick thank-you email for taking a chance on your shop.
Running a business is tough, and sometimes extenuating circumstances make it even tougher. Be open with your customers about the hurdles you’re currently going through, especially if it will affect shipping times or restock dates.
We all make mistakes – especially when we’re doing huge, crazy difficult things like running a business. If you’ve made a mistake on a customer’s order, own your error, sincerely apologize, and do whatever it takes to make things right. It’s much more professional than shrugging off responsibility or blaming someone else. (Bonus points if you reach out and own up to it before the customer even notices!)
Make it easy to get in touch
Have you ever sent an email to a company’s customer service team… and then never heard anything back? Yeah, that’s the worst. Don’t be that company. Let your customers know the best way to reach you, whether it’s through Instagram DMs, email, or over the phone. If you want to go the extra mile, include a live chat feature on your website that’s available 24/7. (Also, word of advice: if you have a contact form on your website, make sure to check it every so often!)
Offer self-help customer service
If your customers can find their own answers to their questions, it makes their lives easier AND your life easier. Include a comprehensive FAQ page on your website that answers common questions about shipping, sales, returns, and more. For more complicated questions, you might want to write up an entire blog post to give your customers more information. Just be sure your customers still know that they can reach out to you with any questions they can’t find the answers to.
Plan for the holidays
Here’s a hot tip: over the holidays, things get BUSY. Even if you usually don’t have very many people blowing up your inbox about shipping questions, there’s a very good chance you will during the holidays. Make sure you’re prepared with multiple customer service reps helping respond to questions (if need be) and detailed holiday shipping info displayed on your website and social media pages.
Make it a goal to respond to all customer emails within 48 hours whenever possible. No matter how busy you are, customers want to feel like their concerns and questions are a top priority. As for Instagram DMs, Facebook messages, and comments, try and get in a habit of responding to those right when you see them. (Your customers will like that and so will the algorithm!)
Hire the right people
If you’ve only recently opened your boutique business, you might be the only person your customers ever interact with. But as you grow and add more people to your team, make sure they’re people who are kind, friendly, and pleasant to interact with. Nobody’s perfect, but a positive attitude can make all the difference.
Pretend you’re at the dinner table with your strict aunt – say lots of pleases and thank yous. Not only is it common courtesy, but it’s also good business. It’ll also help you still sound friendly and polite even when you’re communicating via messenger or text.
Set clear expectations
Sorry, but you’re not superwoman. When your customers approach you asking when they can buy an item you aren’t planning on restocking, or when they ask if you can make sure the package, they just ordered gets to them by tomorrow, sometimes you just can’t give them the answer they were hoping for. Be realistic in your responses and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Setting clear expectations is also helpful in responding to emails – sending an automated email letting a customer know when they can expect a response is also helpful, even if they were initially hoping for a reply right away.
There isn’t a robot at the other end of all of those incoming customer emails – it’s bright, bubbly, sparkly you! Don’t be afraid to infuse your communications with your genuine personality. Strike up a conversation with a customer on the phone, ask about their day, say “top of the morning to ya” instead of “hello” when you feel like it. It’ll help forge a relationship with your customers!
Have you ever asked a waiter what you should order, only for them to respond, “I love everything on the menu equally!” Yeah, that’s not helpful – don’t be like that guy. When your customers ask for your opinion, politely give it. You’re the real expert on the products you carry – use your insider knowledge to guide your customers to the right decision for them.
Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith predicts futuristic 3D sky mapping will launch low carbon city flight revolution
Science fiction fans can tick off one more prediction turned to reality as NASA aims to optimize local travel and commuting by air above cities.
A key enabler is Digital Twin technology, a ‘real-world SimCity’ software able to aggregate vast quantities of data on buildings, roads, infrastructure, vehicles, and even the space above into an interactive 3D virtual model of a city.
It is the potential to manage integrated drone and ‘new age’ air taxi routes in the air space that attracted a nationwide NASA search, leading Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith to be 1 of just 10 tech companies presenting to senior NASA officials at the prestigious ‘Ignite the Night: Aeronautics’* NASA iTech virtual event on April 13, 2021.
NASA iTech identifies and searches for cutting-edge technologies being developed outside of NASA that solve problems on Earth, but also having the potential to address challenges facing exploration of the Moon and Mars.
David Voracek, Center Chief Technologist, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
Julie Williams-Byrd, Deputy Chief Technologist, NASA Langley Research Center NASA’s vision for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) aims to help develop air transportation to safely move people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation – local, regional, intra-regional, and urban – using revolutionary new aircraft only now becoming possible.
Michael Jansen, CEO of Chicago-based Cityzenith, said: “This will be the second presentation to NASA by my company and its SmartWorldOS software platform within weeks, and we are very honored and excited to be the only Digital Twin company at this prestigious gathering.
“It highlights yet another application for Digital Twin technology and growing interest in flight above our cities, a dream dating back to the ground-breaking 1927 movie ‘Metropolis’ and many sci-fi classics since then, but now set to happen as we move to delivery by flying drones and then human travel by zero-carbon air vehicles using electric propulsion.
“It will open a whole new dimension to city life; no longer will high-rise living and working mean people must literally come down to earth to go elsewhere.
“But there is a real pressure to act, too: The World Economic Forum has reported that ground level delivery vehicles in the world’s 100 largest cities will increase 36% by 2030, carbon emissions from all urban delivery traffic will rise 32% and congestion will be up by 21%, adding 11 minutes to an average daily commute.
“NASA introduced the air taxi concept in 2001 and the race is now on to create the first viable electric machines in a market tipped to grow 26.2% annually to $6.63 billion by 2030**.
“This new air mobility can also significantly reduce greenhouse gases in cities, a goal of our Clean Cities – Clean Future mission to drive down urban carbon emissions. Cities produce more than 70% of global carbon emissions (source: UN) and that’s why we pledged to donate SmartWorldOS to key cities around the world, one at a time, to help the most polluted become carbon neutral.
“We are also expanding to meet demand for our Digital Twin capability as the post-COVID-19 ‘Build Back better’ initiative grows; we have just passed a $2.5 million milestone en route to a $10 million Regulation A+ crowdfunding investment raise.”
KEVIN HART’S LAUGH OUT LOUD NOW AVAILABLE ON TUBI WITH MORE THAN 200 EPISODES FROM THE POPULAR LOL! NETWORK LIBRARY
Variety of stand-up, interview and animated titles – including All Star Comedy Jam, Comedy in Color, Cold as Balls, Def Comedy Jam, D.L. Hughley: Uncut and The PJs – are now available on FOX Entertainment’s free streaming service
Tubi, a division of FOX Entertainment, and Laugh Out Loud, the comedy brand and multi-platform entertainment company founded by Kevin Hart, today announced a content deal to bring more than 200 episodes from the expansive LOL! Network library to FOX Entertainment’s free streaming service. Beginning today, a variety of stand-up, interview and animated titles – including All Star Comedy Jam, Comedy in Color, Cold as Balls, Def Comedy Jam, D.L. Hughley: Uncut and The PJs – from the LOL! Network library now join Tubi’s vast library of more than 30,000 movies and television shows.
“We’re excited to be partnering with Laugh Out Loud to bring hundreds of hours of premium comedy free to Tubi viewers,” said Adam Lewinson, Chief Content Officer, Tubi. “Comedy has always been a top-performing category on our platform, and we know Laugh Out Loud’s popular titles will be a perfect fit for our viewers.”
Laugh Out Loud titles coming to Tubi in April include Affion Crockett: Mirror II Society, All Star Comedy Jam (I’m Still Laughing, Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas, Orlando and South Beach editions), Cold As Balls (Seasons 1 & 2), Comedy in Color (Seasons 1 & 2), D.L. Hughley: Uncut, Def Comedy Jam (Seasons 1-3), In Godfrey We Trust (Year in Review), Kevin Hart: Lyft Legend, The PJs (Seasons 1-3), Shaq & Cedric the Entertainer Present: All Star Comedy Jam, That’s Funny (Billy Sorrells, Capone, D’Lai, Karlous Miller and Rip Micheals editions) and What Now All Access.
“Laughter is a universal language. Our goal is, and has always been, to develop LOL into a global comedy powerhouse, and to keep the world laughing together,” said Laugh Out Loud CEO, Jeff Clanagan. “As we expand the LOL distribution network, we’re excited to partner with Tubi because it allows us to continue to reach our audience wherever they are with the best comedy out there.”
Later this year, Tubi will add more seasons of Laugh Out Loud’s Hart-hosted sports talk show Cold as Balls, Comedy in Color, and Def Comedy Jam, as well as additional LOL! Network titles, including Inglorious Pranksters, Mike Epps Presents: Live from Club Nokia, and Straight from The Hart.
With total view time surpassing 200 million hours of content streamed each month since April, Tubi has more than 30,000 movies and television shows globally from over 250 content partners, including every major studio. The service gives fans of films and television programs an easy way to discover new content that is available completely free.
Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Tubi, a division of FOX Entertainment, is an ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) service with movies and television shows from nearly every major Hollywood studio. Tubi gives fans of films and television programs an easy way to discover new content that is available completely free. The service is currently available in the US, Canada, Australia, and Mexico.
About Laugh Out Loud
Laugh Out Loud is a comedy brand and multi-platform entertainment company founded by the world’s top comedian Kevin Hart. Through comedy in color, LOL unites a diverse, global audience around an essential connective tissue: LAUGHTER.
From stand-up legends to the next generation of comedic talent, Hart and LOL curate comedy’s boldest voices to produce original scripted and unscripted series, stand-up specials, live broadcasts and experiential activations. To Laugh
Out Loud, Hart brings the groundbreaking social strategy that earned him 100 million+ followers, sold out 2018’s biggest comedy tour in the world, and continues to break box office records.
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