The Luxe Nomad founder: We didn’t use an agency, we used Instagram and my sense of humour

The founder and CEO of luxury hotel booking portal The Luxe Nomad, Stephanie Chai, talked about her experience of starting her own business at a youth-focused event in Singapore yesterday, sharing how she used Instagram to build the brand and struggles to manage her millennial employees.

Millennial 2020

Stephanie Chai at Millennial 2020: ‘We’re in the age of individualism’

In an entertaining session at the Millennial 2020 conference in Singapore, the former model and TV presenter for 8TV, NTV7 and Channel NewsAsia was asked by her interviewer, Straits Times journalist Grace Sung, to reveal the lessons she has learned from starting her own business.

Chai, who launched The Luxe Nomad in 2012, listed managing people among the most difficult things about going it alone. “And I’m sorry to say it but millennials are just… in a different arena,” she said, recounting the time recently a 25 year-old woman was reduced to tears after Chai told her to “pull her socks up.”

“They [millennials] need to be handheld a bit more, but of course we do need them in our team. I think managing a team is very different compared to five-10 years ago,” said Chai, who founded online wedding portal Wedding Guide Asia before starting The Luxe Nomad.

Stephanie Chai

Chai: “I downloaded SnapChat, but deleted it five minutes later”

“Managing people is not easy. And I’m generally ok with people, but it was like having 10 children. You have to be deeply nice to all of them. But you can’t be too nice, because they’ll take advantage,” said Chai, who shared that she worked two days a week modelling before entering the startup world.

On marketing to millennials, Chai said there was a need to be “individualistic”, adding that the luxury travel sector had the tendency to be “robotic” in how it communicated with young people.

“We’re in the age of individualism. Whatever you do, and however you voice it, it has to have personality,” said Chai, who said that in the early days of her company she did not hire an agency to help with communications.

“We did it by ourselves. Just using my sense of humour on Instagram,” she said.

The Luxe Nomad has 108,000 followers on Instagram, Chai’s social media platform of choice.

The Luxe Nomad“I like Instagram. I downloaded SnapChat, but deleted it five minutes later. Instagram is very good for travel. And blue is the most liked colour, and the most likely to convert, so use lots of pictures with blue,” she advised.

The best time to post on Instagram is 8am, 2pm, 10pm,” Chai shared. “That’s when people are on their way to work, just had lunch or about to go to bed.”

“You don’t need to be an expert photographer, you just need to tag and credit people. Sometimes Facebook’s still good, but now you need to pay for it,” she said, referring to the fall in organic reach of marketing posts on Facebook.

Chai revealed that The Luxe Nomad is working on an app to reach the 20% of the website’s visitors who are 18-25 years old but can’t yet afford to make a large purchase.



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