Huw and Rossella Beaugié, Founders of The Thinking Traveller, are explorers and content creators to the core. The company’s Instagram is a peek into luxurious Mediterranean towns around the world—primarily shining light on hidden gems and local hideouts in towns through Italy, Greece, and France.
More than just an Instagram account, though, The Thinking Traveller is a company that provides luxury villas to rent in the Mediterranean regions of Sicily and Puglia in Italy; the Ionian and Sporades islands in Greece; and Corsica in France.
Some estates feature properties with masseries or traditional trullo huts that are centuries old, while others, like a handful of beach bungalows, shine for unrivaled views, modern finishes, and artistic interior details. The platform also provides its customers with exclusive experiences—created in partnership with other brands—and staff like drivers and chefs, upon request.
Whitewall spoke with the Beaugiés to hear how they’re doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which Instagram accounts they love to follow, and how their recent partnership with Strazzanti is bringing joy to East Londoners.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about where you’re currently based, and what the COVI-19 scenario there is like right now.
THE THINKING TRAVELLER: We’re based in London—where our main office is—and in Italy, Greece, and Corsica—where our Local Concierges live and work) In London, we’ve adopted a policy of social distancing and all our team are working remotely. Our destinations are currently all in enforced governmental lock-down, so our colleagues in destination are also at home. We are keeping in touch with each other, both for work and for social events.
We have a permanent meeting line open so people can get together and have a chat whenever they want. We meet for lunch, for example, aperitif after work, everyone at their own home, but everyone together sharing our experiences. We’re in touch with colleagues throughout the travel industry, comparing notes, establishing best practices, and supporting each other. This sense of togetherness is something we find really positive.
Of course, we are hopeful that this situation will pass soon and that we can all get back to normal. Once it’s all over, we imagine that people will be very keen to get away on holiday, so we’re making sure we’re ready to provide them with exceptional experiences that’ll make all the sacrifices seem worth it.
WW: How are you being more meaningful with the type of content you are posting in response?
TTT: We are making sure our content is sensitive to the current situation. We also have planned content with our partners such as: the wellbeing company Bodyism to share at-home fitness videos; our villa owners to tell us what they love about their country; and our in-villa cooks to provide recipes and cooking videos so our followers can make dishes at home. What’s important at this time is to bring people together digitally and support each other.
WW: Are there any other accounts you feel are doing good for the community right now—in person or online?
TTT: Our partner Strazzanti is bringing together local businesses in East London, where our office is, to provide a delivery package every Friday to bring a taste of Sicily to people’s homes.
The weekly package will include bread from E5 Bakehouse and beautiful cakes Emilia Strazzanti bakes herself. She will also produce a recipe each week and, on her social channels, will be sharing cooking demonstrations of her recipes.
We’re getting involved to offer the service to our clients and sharing her content on our own channels. We love this idea, so that people can have a taste of the Mediterranean delivered direct to their door.
WW: Who do you love to follow?
TTT: We love following our in-destination partners (our wine distributors, our villa owners, our Think Experience suppliers, our charity partners—such as the Conservation Collective @conservationcollectiveorg—and so on) to hear what they’re up to.
There’s also a group of influencer friends we love to follow for their inspiring travel content. Some of our favorites include: Christopher and Sarah-Louise of @the_adventuresofus—their photography of beautiful spots all over the world is incredible; New York-based photographer @charissa_fay, who stayed with us in Sicily at our Villa Linera; and Sheree Commerford of @Captainandthegypsykid from Australia—her and her family travelled with us last summer to Sicily, Puglia, and Corsica, and she puts together awe-inspiring photographic, written, and video travel guides.
WW: What is your top tip on social media?
TTT: Create savable and shareable content. We recently launched our “Thoughtful Guides,” which showcase towns in Italy, Greece, and Corsica. The guides are great for inspiration and good to save if you’re planning to visit the location in the future. They’re full of secret spots, historical information, restaurant recommendations, what to eat, villas to stay at, and experiences to discover.
WW: What is a recent meaningful follower interaction you’ve had?
TTT: We recently posted about the Coronavirus pandemic, about the critical situation of our beloved Italy, about our friends and colleagues on the ground, and about our dilemma as to what social media content is appropriate in these delicate times.
Should we continue with inspiring content? Should we speak about Italy? Should we continue as normal? The post inspired loads of great comments, many kind words of support for Italy, and plenty of encouragement for us to keep posting Italy’s myriad charms.