Stuart McNeill, the founder of luxury concierge Knightsbridge Circle, shares his insights on what is motivating the spending habits and plans of the jet-set in the wake of the pandemic.
The world has felt like a smaller place over the past 18 months, although the pandemic has changed many aspects of our members’ lives – from relocating across the world to being grounded at base for months – their priorities have remained largely unchanged: they still expect exceptional and bespoke service, with unparalleled access to the best events and experiences the world has to offer.
Although I see 2022 as the year that people will be booking blow-out gatherings and extravagant parties, the wheels are already starting to turn, with clients keen to spend, rather than saving for a rainy day.
The pandemic has underlined how important it is to live for the moment, rather than conserving for the future.
Whereas 2020 was all about seclusion, and not taking any chances while Covid remained an unknown quantity, this year we are seeing quite the reverse, with members keen to book events and get back out into social situations as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.
This is where we excel. Knightsbridge Circle has reserved tickets in anticipation of this pent-up demand – from front-row seats at the recent Monaco Grand Prix through to events such as Wimbledon, the Superbowl and Paris Fashion Week, which this year is happening in September. Although I believe a return to complete normality will take time, this summer is sure to be an exciting time for members, who are looking forward to reuniting with family and friends.
More and more people have need of a trusted advisor to navigate the challenges of the pandemic; over the past year, we have received membership enquiries from all around the world – with more than half of our members currently located abroad. We are in the process of setting up offices in Monaco, which will allow us to take on additional families to meet the growing European demand. We also plan to introduce offices in the US and the Middle East over the next few years as our international membership continues to grow.
Across the pond, our American clients have also been very busy, with regulations varying from state to state allowing for more freedoms. With an excellent record for taking up the vaccine, New York will be an important destination for our members. The city is gearing up for September events, such as The Met Gala and The Governors Ball Music Festival, where we’ve arranged Platinum passes for our members to meet musician Billie Eilish backstage. Others have been dropping large amounts on tables at red carpet events such as the Oscars.
Now that travel is back on the agenda in the UK, our clients are confirming summer holidays abroad and are ready to go at a moment’s notice – especially those older members who have received two vaccinations. For business travellers, my team has been organising PCR testing in order to complete the Test to Release scheme, meaning only five days of isolation if you’re travelling to and from the UK. This is now something any of our members can benefit from as they start to venture back out into the world.
Portugal has proven popular, with many members staying at Sublime in Comporta for the summer, which is close to both Lisbon and some of the best surfing spots in the world – whereas normally they would have headed straight to Mykonos for the season. Others are keeping an eye on Ibiza and Greece, especially with the opening of The Rooster set on Antiparos – an island in the Cyclades, which is quietly establishing itself as Europe’s latest hotspot for innovative food and culture. Staycations are still proving popular with our UK members, with extended stays booked at Heckfield Place and Limewood in Hampshire, Beaverbrook in Leatherhead, Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, and Gleneagles in Scotland.
Looking ahead, clients are currently enquiring about bookings to St. Barts and the Maldives for the festive period and Dubai for New Year, as well as European skiing trips for the 2022 season. It’s clear that people can’t wait to live to the full after months of uncertainty, and it’s truly rewarding to help them live life bigger and better than ever before.