Luxury that doesn’t equal extravagance, but prioritises protection and preservation, with a particular focus on its impact on the social, artisanal and entrepreneurial aspects of the region. This is Ecoluxury Fair, which takes place in Rome from 9-12 November, an event that brings together a collection of hotels with their fascinating stories and international supply chain. We speak to its creator, Enrico Ducrot, who is also CEO of Viaggi dell’Elefante.
Gv: Mr. Ducrot, what is Ecoluxury today?
“Ecoluxury is a project of mine that started nearly 18 years ago with the aim of channelling a portion of the high-end Elefante market not only towards what is defined as ‘traditional luxury’ but also towards known players, individuals rather than companies, who had a sort of ‘obsession’ with environmental and social protection. After so much time, the result is that Ecoluxury represents a collection of companies managed by individuals who have renewed this world view, enhancing it day after day.”
Gv: What is unique about the collection?
“We’re not a certifying body and anyone who decides to join is aiming for market positioning. Today, economic sustainability is the primary requirement in corporate communication. With our brand, we support the promotion and vision of our associates within a broader philosophy. That’s why this fair exists. The aim is to help businesses that share this philosophy by providing them with a brand, with positioning and with a global vision. Putting these entrepreneurs into contact with each other and not just with the market has a major benefit: sharing the steps taken in this direction of growth. Retreats of the World creates services, time for sharing and opportunities through a brand that supports this philosophy. Another important aspect of Ecoluxury is that it is also a network of agencies.”
Gv: What are you exploring on the agency side?
“Our experimentation also involves an entrepreneurial initiative in which we operate with a specialised network in selling this product. We have opened three Ecoluxury-owned agencies, but what we are interested in doing is experimenting with new sales and promotion methods, to then transfer the model to the travel agencies we invite to the fair. We could describe Ecoluxury as a laboratory that started early almost 18 years ago, but today is in a position to develop unprecedented standards. We keep raising the bar, and at the fair we take stock of the previous year to understand which steps to take for the future.”
Gv: What kind of evolution are you seeing in the combination of luxury and sustainability?
“Today, we find ourselves in a situation where sustainability is the main theme. It’s talked about a lot but there’s also a lot of confusion. It’s still too early to reach a certification of companies so that they become real protagonists in the field. The road ahead is long and complex. The EU is pushing businesses in this direction, but it’s still a slow process. Even in the regions that are most sensitive to the issue, there are few cases of certified companies. Talking about it is one thing, but taking action and initiating new projects is another.”
Gv: What help can tourism provide for a sustainability shift?
“The tourism sector plays a particularly significant role because it involves many different entities in a given area. We can provide a particularly strong push towards this transition. The transition towards sustainability is not just a technical path, but a real revolution. In Italy there are major opportunities and some great examples of luxury and sustainability.”
Gv: What problems do you see ahead?
“A revolution has to start from a grassroots level, and since tourism is connected to the geographical area, it requires central control. It’s a transformation that cannot be done in a fragmented way at a regional level. I believe that luxury plays a fundamental role in this journey. High-end tourism can be a laboratory for innovation. What’s more, a niche product has a smaller impact compared to a mass product: it can further projects funded by high-spending clients and pass on the benefits to other stakeholders.”
Gv: Accessibility is another term that falls within the concept of sustainability. Where are we on this front?
“Today, companies are obliged to move in this direction and the hospitality sector is one of the industries that has moved first. High-end hotels cannot place themselves outside of this area of concern. It would mean excluding themselves from the luxury market itself. Today, the high-end market is willing to spend more if it understands that the hotel communicates its uniqueness and its projects in this direction. One of the major themes is to track data, collect numbers (such as the number of nationally and locally certified hotels), but also data within the company related to individual consumption.”
Gv: Further steps need to be taken to meet environmental protection criteria and more broadly, ESG standards, but is the sales network ready to handle this type of product?
“Today the tourist bodies most involved in the paradigm shift are DMOs, local organizations and certification consultants. The tour operating and agency sectors are certainly lagging behind overall. They find it difficult to communicate and adapt to this mindset. The revolution in distribution over the last 10 years and the Covid pandemic have slowed everything down. Even tour operators have struggled to standardise products in this direction, but the process has now begun. The more the product adapts, the more the sales chain will be pushed to adapt and to communicate these features.
” Gv: What’s new in this sixth edition?
“The Italian sector is developing quickly and is an extraordinary testing ground for researching luxury and sustainability. It is taking huge steps forward. The most important aspect is to start collecting the data and publishing it, starting with the data from our nearly one hundred prestigious associates.”