Thursday, March 8, 2018

Luxury tourism blogger Eric Jrm Engelen points to Brazil as a trend

Blogueiro de turismo de luxo Eric Engelen      Photo L'Hotel Porto Bay Sao Paulo
Por Alex Bernardes

Eric Jrm Engelen, one of the biggest luxury bloggers in the world, was recently in São Paulo and, in an exclusive interview with Brasilturis Jornal, told a bit about his work and his opinion about trends for the sector.

Engelen is Belgian, but considers himself a citizen of the world. Polyglot, fluent in six languages, lived in several European countries, but it was Greece that caught his heart and made him root for 32 years. 6 years ago he had the idea of ​​creating his blog. Without any great pretensions, Passion4Luxury has become one of the worldwide references in the segment since it was launched  more than 13.000.000 visitors visited the blog being 3.000.000 only Brazilians.

BJ: How did the idea of ​​the blog come about?

Eric Jrm Engelen: My blog is very simple, I launched by hobby in 2012 and since then it has been growing and becoming one of the biggest in the world. Today I can proudly say that I am among the 10 largest and most important luxury blogs in the world, even though I am in Blogspot. People ask me why I do not migrate to WordPress, but I think the secret of Passion4Luxury's success is precisely that, being simple, something that an ordinary person produces with the impressions he has, not a formal company trying to influence people. Today I have, on average, of 35,000-40.000 people visiting my blog during the weekdays. During the weekend the blog has reached a 56.200 visitors on a Sunday.

BJ: What content do you write the most and which people are most interested in?

Hotels for sure. Today 80% of all content I produce is about hotels, most of them five stars. People love content about destinations, restaurants, Luxury Cars, Private jets, Luxury products but hotel content is by far the most read. I believe that when the luxury traveler goes out for sightseeing, the first thing he seeks is a good hotel to stay, a place that meets your expectations when it comes to resting from the trail, diving, museum visit or whatever. be the program. Two days ago I posted a story about a luxury hotel in São Paulo and had more than nine thousand visits in 3 days.

BJ: Can you make money from your blog?

You see, I started my blog without this goal, I just wanted to use my 32-year knowledge in this business to make life easier for luxury tourists, and in the end it became a good source of income. Today I represent more than 400 luxury hotels around the world, and they all pay me a fee for me to talk about them. I recently started earning for bookings made through my blog as well. So, I can tell you that yes, today I survive exclusively from that. In addition, I always offer a differential when the reservation is made by my blog. It could be a bottle of champagne, a tour, a massage, a free upgrade when availabe, anything that sets me apart from other booking sites.

BJ: Can you detail where your audience comes from?

Of course, first of the United States, then Brazil. Only in Brazil are more than three million visitors per year. In the beginning Brazil was my number one in visits. Then comes the European market and then Russia. India has been gaining prominence in the last two years, so in April I will officially launch my blog there. My plans now are to enter the Chinese market, which is a great difficulty because in China does not have Google. But recently I met Tony Lee, owner of "Chinese google", we are negotiating the possibility of launching Passion4Luxury over there.
Photo: Tatitane Cristina Gabriel

BJ: In your concept, what does luxury mean?

Luxury for me is something that, unfortunately, not everyone has access to and goes well beyond expensive things. For me, luxury is in the service and quality of things. There are things that are very expensive, but that are not good quality, there are services that we pay dearly for, but that are not provided with affection. So, I can be at the most expensive hotel in the world and if I ask for a water in the restaurant and the waiter brings that bad mood, this is not luxury. But if I'm at the bakery on Avenida Paulista and ask for some water, the shopkeeper is sure to open a smile and bring me the water, that's luxury. Of course a good environment makes all the difference. But the biggest difference is that in luxury tourism the people who consume these expensive and extraordinary services can afford it. Luxury tourism only grows, even in years of crisis.

BJ: When we talk about luxury tourism, some destinations easily come to our imagination, like Greece, Maldives, Tahiti, etc. What big challenges do you think Brazil needs to overcome to be part of this select group?

First I think Brazil is already a luxury destination. The country has excellent luxury properties, qualified and exclusive services and everything that involves this segment. But I still think it lacks a little attention to detail, especially in communication. Few speak English at luxury hotels, which is basic. Everything begins in communication, communion is responsible for great unions, but lack of it can even generate wars (laughs). This barrier of communication can generate a bad experience that will surely spread. The luxury segment, although moving billions every year, is small, people get to know each other and exchange views about products and services. Apart from that, I think Brazil has everything to be in this select group. The country has stunning and secluded beaches, which is a plus because the luxury traveler loves being inaccessible. You have beautiful hotels, a fabulous gastronomy, art, culture different, cheerful and, mainly, authentic.

BJ: Do you believe that luxury tourism has become more accessible?

Definitely. We have seen a very large sharing movement dumb apart, this helps to democratize the luxury. Today we can see mansions on popular beaches that can be rented by season, luxury cars and even helicopters being rented with more affordable prices. The emergence of product clubs has also greatly facilitated the entry of more people into the luxury segment. This is a good thing, you no longer have to be a millionaire to spend the day in a boat, you can rent it, spend a très chic day by the beaches of Angra or in the Mediterranean, then just give it back and that's it. Without worrying about taxes, maintenance etc. Is not that a wonder ?!

BJ: We are living a strong wave of politically correct where, often, the luxury segment is seen as something superfluous and unfair. How do you think the thread can reverse this view?

Yes, this politically correct movement may sound radical, but this kind of thing happens to help us improve. This is happening with the luxury segment and in tourism as well. For example, we already have hotel chains that have worked to improve the lives of the communities where they settle, including here in Brazil. I read that in the Northeast some resorts have given classes to community residents that include English, gastronomy etc. In addition to using only local products, this helps the economy of these villages. Somehow, it helps to improve the surrounding environment. Experience tourism has also helped in this. Luckier people end up living with local people, even for a short time, which makes it possible to market local products and services. All of this helps turn the economy around and improve the lives of more people. It may seem small, but it is already a great gesture.

BJ: In Brazil there is a feud between travel agents and bloggers, does this happen in other countries as well? And how do you think this can be resolved?

Yes, this feud is old, but in today's world there is no longer as an agent coming out fighting with everyone. Everywhere you can make reservations, buy tickets etc. You can do this by Instagram, Facebook and others. But what they have not yet realized is that it has a market for everyone. Although I have three million visits from Brazilians on my blog, it does not mean that I sell to all these people. If the agent is competent and up-to-date, he will use my blog as a reference when it comes to selling, as a source of information to influence his clients and increase a sale. There is a tourist of high standard who even makes the reservation, this person will always request the service of an agent, and as much as he reads my blog, at the time of closing the purchase, he will ask this to an agent. Anyway, it is possible for the agent to take advantage of all this too if he is smart.

BJ: Finally, in your opinion, what will be the great luxury destinations for 2018?

Definitely Greece, which never goes out of style, and Brazil. It may seem strange, but with the Brazilian economy growing again and the political landscape getting ready, I'm sure the country will have an excellent year in tourism, especially in luxury tourism. No one sells a destination better than his own people, and we see the Brazilian smile again, it seems that the shadow of pessimism is passing, and foreign tourists feel it. From the middle of 2017 I've heard the name of Brazil getting back on the wheels of foreign friends when it comes to choosing a destination for a trip, and that's a good sign. Something tells me that 2018 will be wonderful for your country.

Source: Brasilturis Jornal
Hotel: L'Hotel Porto Bay

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