Editor's Letter: Evocative Moments From the Past

When my husband and I first met we often shopped at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan at the 59th Street store. In the men’s department there was a section called “Saturday’s Generation,” filled with carefully selected oxford shirts, pullover sweaters and jeans, all made with wonderful textiles that looked lived-in but also subtly chic. I remember selecting some of those shirts for my big brother’s birthday and shipping them off to him. He later told my mother he’d never seen such beautiful shirts, which gave me a temporary boost from my naïve little sister image.

There was always something happening in Bloomingdale’s. I recall running in there one day when there was a long line forming on the main floor. There was such a buzz of excitement. I had no idea what I was queuing up for but when I got to the front I was gifted with a tiny bottle of Coco, the new perfume that was being released by Chanel for the first time that day. I still have that bottle; it reminds me of the elation I felt over receiving something so precious and new.

Although Bloomingdale’s was subsequently bought by the parent company of Macys, over the years, it’s retained its image of unique quality and service. When I shopped there as a woman in my 20s, I always felt I was a better version of myself, walking through the cosmetic counters, the furniture department (dreaming of future apartments and how I’d style them with leather sectionals and slate-top coffee tables) and of course, the clothing. I’d shop for evening gowns when I had nowhere to wear them. It didn’t matter; I always felt welcome and that the glamour the dresses offered was a world that was completely available to me.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel + Meetings Group (Photo by Nashan Photographers)

It was recently announced that 150 Macys will be closing down across the country but 15 new Bloomingdale’s will open, as the retailer seeks to remain competitive in a buying landscape that is mostly online now. Nothing against the Macys brand but I’m not surprised. When I go into these stores, I see miles and miles of clothing and wonder who in the world is going to buy all that “stuff.” Luxury here is a matter of quantity and not experience.

In recent months I’ve seen my Ralph Lauren stock increase by 30 percent. Analysts point to the fact that the brand is doing less discounting and instead elevating its stature. Its successful branding on Instagram arouses emotions and an Americana experience that people aspire to. As a result, on social media, Ralph Lauren is also capturing a younger audience, leading to more digital sales.

As a purveyor of luxury travel, are you promoting lots of luxury stuff or are you displaying content that evokes moments that stay in the client’s mind for days and days until they eventually purchase what you’ve floated before them? Is your identity as a luxury expert based on the vast quantity of programs you can offer your customers or do you instead consider each client’s ultimate preferences as you’re preparing to consult with them?

I’ve recently begun collecting gemstones straight from the mines. When I get a new delivery, my living room becomes filled with assorted chunks of amethysts, slivers of jade and polished calcite, all beautiful, but if I don’t quickly put each in a carefully selected place on a shelf it just all becomes a lot of “stuff.” That’s true as well of luxury travel experiences. Don’t let the world’s wonders become a lot of “things” you’re trying to sell. Instead, let each stand on its own, carefully selected for the person who has revealed their ultimate travel desires to you. Your clients will feel a better version of themselves when they’re interacting with you and you’ll both benefit from that positive emotion.

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