The Big Group’s Bruce Keebaugh says to deliver luxury events with a twist anywhere in the world you need to understand a client or brand’s core history and values.
I have been very privileged to have worked within the catering and events industry for over 25 years, having established the Melbourne, Australian-based creative hospitality agency, The Big Group with my wife Chyka when we were both in our early 20s.
Today we employ well over 1000 staff and work within multiple hospitality sectors from retail, corporate contracting, venue management, major events and of course our bespoke events division which produces some incredible luxury events both nationally and on the global stage.
Often people comment and ask why international corporations and private high net worth and royal families would engage the services of an Australian provider when orchestrating events in South America, Europe, Asia or the Middle East.
The answer is twofold. In part, social media and the web have allowed creative agencies such as ours the ability to access the world stage of eventing. Secondly, as Australian operators, I believe we are very unique at what we do and can break down some of the traditional delivery methods of our competitors who are primarily based out of LA, NYC, Paris and London.
The art of luxury is to truly understand it. If you cannot appreciate a brand’s core history and values or a high net worth clientele’s expectations, then you will never be able to deliver the unexpected and have them wanting for more!
Luxury is often not edged in gilt. I write this from Villa Treville in Positano, and as I look out at the azure of the Mediterranean, the light and coastline are the luxury, and as we orchestrate an event here tonight, there is actually very little left to do that history, geography and Italianicity hasn’t already sorted! Tonight my job is easy…
The Middle Eastern market, where we tend to work more so from November to April during their cooler months, provides variant challenges as the backdrop is not exactly that of the Amalfi coastline! Plus the expectation of quality and sophistication is often referenced against the backdrop of the Parisian couture collections, an abundance of floral blooms shipped by the plane load from Holland and South Africa, and an expectation of an entire bespoke environment – think custom-made table, chairs, fabrics, crystals chandeliers, handcrafted walls, hanging gardens, floral dessert buffets stretching 1.4 kilometres and 24 carat gold cutlery offset with Baccarat glassware. If there is a time and a place to gild, this is it! And what fun we have…
For the luxury events industry though, things are moving as fast paced as everything else. What represented luxury 10 years ago is now passé. One only needs to look at the challenges the hotel industry is having in regards to understanding the new luxe traveller and their needs which are so different from a decade prior.
Our luxury as an industry is our ability to be flexible as we can easily adapt to new challenges and trends – the art is to be ahead of the game on what the new next big thing is.
My best advice on this is to do what Chyka and I have done for 25 years – combine a love and passion for travel with your excitement and energy for the events
industry. In so doing we can bring the very best from overseas back to Australia and now we have the opportunity to change it up and actually export the best of Australian hospitality to the world!