CASE STUDY

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wander5No longer does one have to navigate through events that do not suit their values or appeal to their palates. due to the services of Marti Hines and Lola Wood, experiences like no other are amazingly closer than you imagine!

MONARCH: What exactly is the WanderLuxxe experience, and what sets it aside from other travel excursions?

Marti Hines: We started WanderLuxxe focusing on lm-festival experiences. We really pride ourselves on giving our members the opportunity to experience things that they might not have ever been able to learn about or get to see for themselves. The sundance Film Festival is where we launched WanderLuxxe. our guests were able to go to world premieres, rub shoulders with A-list talent, oscar winners, oscar nominees, taking them to Cannes in the south of France, red-carpet events along the famed Promanade de la Croisette, and private evenings with Chanel. I think what separates us from other concierge services or companies is that we add that kind of Hollywood glam to it. I think that our members really appreciate being able to mix and mingle with that type of peer.

MONARCH: What prompted WanderLuxxe to take form? did you see a lack of experiences for those of color?

Marti Hines: I started my event career in LA planning events for lm festivals so I was hired on a festival contract for sundance, Tribeca, and Cannes. Lola came and worked the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago and when we were there we noticed that there just weren’t a lot of people of color at the lm festival. one of our mutual friends reached out to us and said it was something they thought we should really try to provide access to. From there is where WanderLuxxe was formed.

MONARCH: Did you nd it challenging being two African American women? Was it an asset…a liability?

Lola Wood: I would honestly say that I have been feeling that mostly this has been an asset for us. I would say so because at each of the lm festivals this past year we have done activations where we have engaged with talent and all of our talent have been black artists and musicians. I think we’ve been able to capitalize by building on the relationships so when we were at sundance, last year, 2017, we supported a lm called Burning Sands that was on Net ix. In doing that we hosted a house party with Common. Then, in New york, we did the after party for the Bad Boy Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop documentary. In Cannes, we honored spike Lee and his producing partner, Roger smith, for the 25th anniversary of Rodney King. I think those things are consistent and that talent is really aligned with who Marti and I are as black women, as business owners, and entrepreneurs.

wander6MONARCH: You ladies have created an amazing service. How long did it take to launch the rst event?

Lola Wood: Marti and I came back from Cannes in June. We started talking about developing the idea of a WanderLuxxe. our rst activation was at sundance, which was in January (2017).

MONARCH: What was the initial response as you began launching events?

Marti Hines: I think that in the world of Hollywood and sundance, you have to work on your credibility. I think that people weren’t quite sure what we were and if we could really provide the access that we said we were able to. We really had to make a name for ourselves. When we got to sundance, that’s when our phones really started ringing. once we were in Park City, the people were saying, “I wasn’t able to get this access so let me go ahead and give WanderLuxxe a chance.” We were able to show up and prove, that we meant what we were saying. so the next thing you know, phone calls that were not being answered before the festival, once we were on the job in Park City, we had our phones blowing up because they were trying to get into the Common party, or trying to get into the Google Home party that we were doing for another lm, The Night Shift. To me, it really took off once we were on the ground there and people could see for themselves that we were a real entity and we weren’t going away.

MONARCH: What is the approach to planning a WanderLuxxe experience and, if possible, walk us through the approach or stages, your process, from initial planning to completion?

Marti Hines: First of all, Lola and I talk all day every day about what we can do to make WanderLuxxe better and what we can do to provide programming. As she mentioned, being black women, we wanted to bring more of the spotlight to black lmmakers and black artists that were at the lm festivals and give them a larger platform. So when we talk about each festival, our first thought is what have we heard from our contacts about films that are coming to the festival that have African American talent, directors, or writers attached to it. From there, we build our wish list of programs we would like to support and bring into the WanderLuxxe itinerary. Then we just sit and brainstorm, figure out who we have relationships with, and get a sketch of what we want to do and who we want to support. It’s a waiting game with the festivals of seeing who gets in. We hear buzz about films but if for some reason it doesn’t happen, then you have to go back to the drawing board. We get very busy about a month before the festival because we actually know what’s happening. We deal with making sure our members are having the experience that they want so we have conversations with each person that buys one of our packages about what they’re looking for from the festival. We have some industry execs that may have never been and really want to impress their boss so we make sure that they hit all the right events. We have industry vets where this is their 15th festival and they just want someone to iron out all the details for them and just tell them where to show up. We have filmmakers who are trying to make a name for themselves and so they want to make sure they are in the right rooms with the right decision makers. It’s just really understanding what each member is looking for out of their experience because every person usually wants something unique and different. Then we go back amongst our team because we now know that Mitzi really loves midnight screenings and we want to make sure that she can have the experience that she wants. It’s a mix of planning the event underway, with the right organizations and the right filmmakers, and then, of course, making sure that our guests are having a personalized experience.

Lola Wood: I would also say that part of creating the experience for our members is working and determining which partners and brands we would like to work with. There are a lot of other things that other brands can offer that can make our members have a more robust experience while they’re at the festivals. For example, we look to partner with a car brand or a liquor brand or even some other brands that offer something like winter clothing. It’s the little things to make their experience a little bit better. We also have to keep in mind our brand and whom we want to be aligned with.

wander10MONARCH: How often is the WanderLuxxe experience made available to the public?

Marti Hines: We focus on doing three large activations at Sundance, Tribeca, and Cannes. Then we provide access year round to other lm festivals, red-carpet events like the Oscars, and other awards events, as well as things that are happening on a global scale. We provide access to these other things but we focus on those three festivals in terms of a larger experience.

MONARCH: Marti, where do you find yourself most passionate? Is it in producing lm or producing events?

Marti Hines: Well, I always look at producing events as my trade, I’ve been doing it for the past 15 years. I find that I’m really fortunate to be able to use WanderLuxxe to support independent filmmakers, which is certainly where my passion lies. I love lm. I grew up in a household that loved lm and just being able to help people tell stories, especially African American stories, getting that on the screen and having those voices be heard is certainly a passion that I share and Lola as well. I feel really fortunate that I can have a company like WanderLuxxe to help support that passion.

MONARCH: Can you share a horror story where the event just did not come together?

Marti Hines: I would say probably Cannes because we are activating a huge undertaking in a non-English-speaking country. I think Cannes itself is so magical but there were many hurdles. I can say we’ve dealt with the fact that Casamigos, our partner who’s amazing, they were distributing in France for the rst time with our event for spike Lee. There was a little touch and go there where we actually thought the day of the event that we were not going to have any liquor because of miscommunications with the delivery channels. In the states, everything works 24 hours. We can get anything within a few minutes, whatever day of the week it is. But the French culture, especially in the south of France, doesn’t quite work on that American timeline. Learning that, we were running crazy in Cannes, but it all worked out.

MONARCH: Where has the journey of WanderLuxxe taken you and what do you see in the future?

Lola Wood: We launched a membership program and so we are providing services to WanderLuxxe members, not just at lm festivals but throughout the year. I think one of the main things is that we will have a larger membership program and a lot more members who are doing things all over the place all of the time. What else do you think Marti?

Marti Hines: The more people are hearing about WanderLuxxe and seeing what we provide and the bigger issue of what we’re supporting in terms of our mission, I just want that to be something that we’re seeing more of. It’s similar to what I was saying about our passions and our voices being heard as black women. I want us to get in front of as many people as possible and for WanderLuxxe to have the support to be up there and take over this Hollywood industry which is a really hard industry to navigate in. I think we are doing well in this first year.

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