Branching out on her own to start Just The Letter B, a sales and marketing representation company, was a natural progression for Henriette Speed. Whilst developing a taste for luxury working for hotels brands including Starwood and One&Only and Kerzner, she gained vast experience in bringing new product to market by paying special attention to the small but significant details. Over the past eight years, she has carefully curated a portfolio of leading DMCs and luxury hotels.
Boutique. Bijoux. Bespoke. That pretty much sums us up. At b, we take a creative, personalised approach to marketing our clients’ product and expertise, all driven by a passion for what we do and who we represent.
With the world seemingly getting smaller and a real desire for authenticity, clients are really looking further afield and are perhaps a little more open-minded than in the recent past. Seeing more interest in India, Rwanda and even Nepal only serves to confirm this and it really excites me. Closer to home, secondary cities are set to thrive – going to Puglia over Tuscany, or Bologna rather than Rome for example. Personalisation is key, and indeed bragging rights on social media is a driver for many travellers today.
Luxury defined in 140 characters
It’s all in the detail. Taking precious time to learn about you and ensuring you have a highly memorable and deeply personalised experience.
Townhouse or treehouse?
I’m definitely a city girl, I thrive off the buzz of London, but I’m not averse to (occasionally!) trading my heels for a pair of wellies, though it’s likely to be countryside for city folk, like Soho Farmhouse or a luxury lodge in South Africa!
The bucket list
I want to practice yoga at Ananda in the Himalayas, eat at Eleven Madison Park and Osteria Francescana, travel on the back of a motorcycle through South America and ride into Petra on a camel (I’ve been obsessed ever since watching Indiana Jones as a child). It’s all about experiences that take in the local culture and customs.
Well, it is January so it was a heap of kale and butternut squash, but I’m very excited by London’s restaurant scene, especially younger talent moving away from stuffy, staid dining experiences. I recently enjoyed a couple of celebration meals at Xu and 108 Garage, which were both exceptional, and I love places like Hoppers, Pidgin and 10 Greek Street is an old standby. I’m a big foodie, and part of my love of travel (and life in fact) is centred around food!
Recently I was lucky enough to stay at the phenomenal Angama Mara in Kenya which will be an old fave in years to come, but no hotel experience really comes close to One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. I’d love to go back some day. If we’re talking properly old, then Falaknuma Palace high above Hyderabad is also up there for me.
Having the courage to set up on my own during the height of the recession. I’ve never looked back.
So, so many, but it probably has to be braving the Devil’s Pool at the top of the Victoria Falls in Zambia. Incredibly thrilling! It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
It’s all in the detail
It’s normally when something goes wrong – the weather not cooperating, flights being cancelled, someone giving birth in their room (yes, it has happened) – where one truly shines and shows the worth of their expertise and local knowledge. Even then however, clients don’t see the furious paddling beneath the surface, and more importantly, the planning for these possible incidents well in advance that make it all appear seamless regardless of the challenges at hand.
My inspiration comes from…
Film, travel, and of course the great people I am privileged to work with inspire me greatly. I also like to keep one eye on Instagram whilst also taking much inspiration from a bunch of successful and driven girlfriends, many of whom are also doing it for themselves!
Aperol or agua?
A Picante de la Casa, a tequila-based cocktail with coriander and good chilli kick served at Soho House, but I’ll never say no to a glass of good Champagne, especially a blanc de blanc.
I do love my job! It’s a great industry to be a part of.