Hotels, Jobs And Chocolate Cakes: Is Our View On Luxury Distorted? #money #GFC #luxury #culture

Sometime a couple of months back I had this intuition that we don’t know the real value of money any more. I think it was after seeing luxury things on discount, after being in a sales team, seeing the house market in a bubble of millions, watching white Australian privileged males drink and the confused and scared looks from millennials –

Observing how generation x was going to awesome restaurants while my friends were counting their pennies with rent and food (Magic Loved And Lost: My Mourning For The Sydney I Knew #triggered #identitycrisis) – and looking at the gap between middle classes and the rich, then who was actually paying taxes.

There used to be a point to money: you see value, you pay for it. Simple transaction.
You pay a price for luxury.
A house.
Your clothes.
Your education.

Except that’s changed.
I’m questioning what’s going on with people’s spending habits, how they buy what they buy and how places sell what they make. There seems to be huge gaps in understanding, demanding and supplying things.

I feel it.
It’s astounding.

Money is a resource and a trade tool: made to get stuff.

In the news: 1.4 billion dollars lost on the stock market.
10 more billionaires made this year.

Do you get the sensation that everything is inflated? Have you ever seen a millionaire, a million dollars physically, or touched 1000 dollars with your bare hand?

Proctor Gallagher suggests you should. Because not many people are comfortable with wealth. The visual represents a big bank note with insides stuffed full of papers, bills, all in the name of getting comfortable with ‘feeling’ wealth. I actually did this.

One friend of mine was once in the company of entrepreneurs who made it and were sitting on absurd wealth. She needed a vodka martini to digest the conversation.
And that vodka martini was the reason I started chatting to her; it may have been her Instagram story that piqued my interest. She never visibly drank that stuff and I love a good vodka martini. The millionaire world is a different world just like an engineers, an IT, actors or singer’s life.

So what is good business? To my mind it inspires trust, authenticity, see-through business and enhancement of life quality.
Why companies won’t pay people the bare minimum, chuck out toxic bosses or have a solid governance plan?

Your worth in the economy – jumping through menial hoops for a 50 or 100? (Do You Feel You’re Worth 50 Bucks?) Waitressing, doing menial labour, last minute employment – freelancing. That’s just pure survival.

Work hard, pay bills, rest, repeat.

How many people can claim land, a house, a good superannuation, something luxurious they can treat themselves to that’s not a big brunch or renting a holiday house?

I don’t know, it got to me that money doesn’t have the assumed value any more. Going past allll the technicalities so that economists and accountants don’t bang on my door, I would use examples of a chat I had with a pretty smart guy who had been in hospitality for 15 years and now teaches high school kids.

He confirmed what my intuition was telling me.

My friend started with something tangible and chronological – the GFC.
Global Financial Crisis.
2008

Investors refer to it as the day the financial model failed. Interesting choice of words. There’s a finance model involved and people who profit from it, and it failed. (I’m not making this up, I read some wisdom from Tony Robbins)

The system is disbalanced. So my friend tells me, customer spending on luxury goods from that year onwards crumpled. Just like me, he adored working with high end customer service but found it was dramatically changing.

People used to want to pay for luxury.

Now luxury is for sale.

And trying to sell people things, now gets in the way of a great customer experience.
I feel it, he feels it. We feel the same.

*front desk of the hotel*
‘Sure you don’t want the window room? It’s on special today.’
‘No.’
‘OK.’
*types into the system*

Because wealthy people don’t want to pay more for wanting more, ergo got greedy, things are inflated and in spiralling debt. As he put it, there’s now a market for ‘obnoxious’ customers. They want five star service without the price tag and yet because business has to cater to that to exist, there is no longer an understanding in value.

The part that I laugh at, is the consequence of business becoming cheap.

Customers don’t want to pay, business stoops, business loses its brand, market is confused, someone takes over, suddenly it’s all about ‘sell, sell, sell.’

Originally, as my friend told me, customers were decent and polite. They paid. It was a pleasure to serve them. And now with the new market trend, businesses rethink that cordial phone call to wake you up for a conference – they rethink giving you an extra welcome mint on the bed.

All the bells and whistles disappear and suddenly companies struggle to continue their branding.
Things are out of alignment.
Things are missing.

The intriguing part of the deal I’ve been told, is that you can’t scoop into any particular market. The behaviour is across the board which means – there’s no age bracket.

And the funnier part still – when people complain of a product being too cheap.

LINDT CAKE STORY
One fine beautiful day my family picked up the traditional birthday cake mum loved for her birthday. The Lindt Opera Cake. A luxury we are happy to pay for because it’s a unique recipe with layers of different chocolate, fudge and gold. It’s lots of dark chocolate and it makes mum happy.
And it has a Happy Birthday scrolled on it plus a gold leaf.

It was a momentous occasion because for the first time in a few years, the family was in Sydney and mum took the opportunity to get the special cake.

While we x-rayed the awesome package, we couldn’t help but see that it had changed a bit; same price, smaller dimensions. They had taken an inch off. We speculated that the management had changed and was probably aiming to deliver more profit to the investors.
We ate the cake as usual, sharing some gold leaf.

This observation about the cake made me fume after a couple of days.

In a chat with a fellow that worked at a hardware store, I pointed out that some companies seem to not care about the very reason they even exist on the market: customers, clients. Chip away at service and product and make it feel like you are of no value but give profit to the board and investors. I said, from a communications point of view that strategy is bold and dumb. It reflects that greedy people take precedence.

It’s like this, you see a good friend doing a great service as a business. Are you going to push for discounts and bully her into thinking her work was crap to mediate the price?

Some do… I don’t. business is business. If there’s real value in there and your life changes, heck yeah I’ll pay the amount my friend asks.
It’s a deal, it’s a transaction, it’s only fair.

But… people have become so unethical and force businesses to lose track of what makes their brand spark, that EVERYTHING changes altogether.
Experts are hired to get companies to figure out ‘where they can win’, identity crisis or miscommunication notwithstanding.

Bottom lines are so heavily targeted.

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