From a business model that was previously based on advertising, the new ASMALLWORLD is shifting to a subscription model. With a peer-recommended and verified user base capped at 250,000 and a bold new set of amenities for its members, ASMALLWORLD will transform into the world’s leading international travel and lifestyle community. From the moment you hit the ground in any city, you’ve got the best insider recommendations, discounts at dozens of stylish boutiques, a free spa treatment, an invitation to a party that night, automatic access to a club – and to top it off you’re staying at a great hotel, at a major discount. ASMALLWORLD will introduce an impressive set of new offerings for its members in India and the world over, transforming from a social network into an international travel and lifestyle club. To fete this special time in the company’s history, CEO Sabine Heller and Chairman Patrick Liotard-Vogt invited over 80 VIP guests from around the world to Taj Marrakech (one of the shoot locations for Sex and the City 2 ), in Morocco over the weekend of May 10 – 12, 2013, for a magical desert adventure.
We at StyleCity Love nothing more than travel, luxury and lifestyle. ASW promotes all that and more, hence we caught up with ASW CEO Sabine Heller and asked her a few questions on her Style Secrets, Luxury Lifestyle and plans for the newly re-launched ASMALLWORLD. So here goes:-
Define Style. What according to you makes a person stylish?
Style to me is very personal. Almost everything I wear is designed by a friend. I have a much more personal relationship with my clothing when I know the person who made it. Confidence is what makes a person stylish. What according to you is the ultimate luxury experience you have had?
That would have to be the time I spent at Ahilya Fort in Central India, my godfather Maharaja Richard Holkar’s ancestral palace which he recently converted into a heritage hotel. With exquisite temples, hidden gardens and ramparts overlooking the sacred Narmada River, you’re lost in time, and able to get a glimpse of what 18th century royal life must have been like.
Your list of ultimate luxury brands and holidays?
Some of my favourite brands include House of Waris, Bungalow 8, Mathew Williamson, Zero + Maria Corjejo, Giambattista Valli, and Saint Laurent. My idea of a luxurious holiday would involve a spa — if one is going to spend a lot of money to stay in a hotel, one might as well really enjoy it, and spend a lot of time there. I love Therme Vals in Switzerland.
What is your take on the future of luxury market in India?
We see immense potential for the luxury market of India. Even as we planned our global relaunch across 100 markets, India has been amongst our top priorities and we plan to grow significantly in numbers from the 10,000 members we used to have here. After all, Indians represent ideal members for ASW, as we are English speaking, international, sophisticated and avid travellers.
What, if any luxury buy do you plan for yourself on person/ your house this year?
I would like to build myself a cottage in my county house.
What was the idea behind forming ASW and what role does it aspire to achieve in its new avatar, especially in India?
ASMALLWORLD first started in 2004. It was founded by a Swedish Count named Erik Wachtmeister, and in many ways had a first mover advantage in social media. For most adults it was their first experience with social media – and for the initial members it was pretty intoxicating to discover a totally different form of communication. That level of excitement was added to by the fact that you had to be invited, and invitations were scarce.When in 2005 Harvey Weinstein became the majority shareholder, he made an assumption that seemed logical at that time. The assumption was predicated on the notion that ad buys are decided on a global level. However, this proved false. Media buyers buy advertising locally not globally. Since ASW had limited penetration in most markets, the company had to bend over backwards to create complicated customer integrations for each partner. This led to an inefficient non-consumer facing business environment, as all resources were focused on maximizing revenue.Eventually, it became clear there had to be a shift approach. ASW had to build a long-term, long-lasting business strategy – one that was consumer-facing. With that as our core objective, ASW became committed to driving member value at all costs, in the form of experiences, upgrades and perks, which led to our reinvention as the definitive travel and lifestyle club in the spring of 2013, remaking one of the world’s oldest social networks as a subscription service, costing $105/year.By way of an evolving website and recommendation platform, members will ever more become mavens of what they love, sharing with the ASW community their personal city and travel favourites. Meeting members is also about to get a whole lot easier through an ultra smart website that will help connect members with things in common. Membership will also grant access to an expanded events program and exclusive global privileges.A core value that distinguishes ASW is trust, and by moving towards a paid structure, ASW will have a fully verified user base, capped at 250,000 members, which will ensure the integrity of the community in a way that no social network has ever done before. With an increased focus on India, we already have several exciting partners including Bungalow 8, Bombay Electric, Le Mill, Good Earth, TAJ Hotels & Resorts, Frette, Perniapopupshop.com, Shivan & Narresh, Bandit Queen, Design Temple and Pankaj & Nidhi, where members of our prestigious ASW community enjoy exclusive deals. Part Indian myself, having spent part of my childhood in Mumbai and New Delhi, I’m personally very excited to have more and more Indian fashion designers, retailers and hotels as part of ASW’s future as brand partner.
To gain membership to the club;1. You get invited by another member 2. Occasionally our events can be attended by non-members, who can speak to our local ambassadors on site and try and get a membership that way 3. There is an application for membership on our new site. These applications will be reviewed bi-annually. So who is sending me an invite? For more details log on to www.asmallworld.net