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The beauty of luxury travel has a serious business behind it...

15 May 2019

IoD 99 member Yasemen Kaner-White explores the business behind luxury travel.

The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mind set with which we travel than on the destination we travel to,” Alain de Botton, ‘The Art Of Travel’. Such a fabulous thought provoking book and how very true this quote is; sadly, sometimes the stressful act of planning a trip can be so overwhelming, by the time you’re slumped by the pool in your sparkling hotel, you’re too exhausted to enjoy it. This is why the business of booking on your behalf has been booming for a while, yet only a few companies can deliver. 

A worthwhile company needs to offer perks and upgrades, whilst keeping abreast of the latest trends and keeping a step ahead of them. When the word travel is mentioned, more and more the word sustainable follows, something that Virtuoso, the leading global network of agencies specialising in luxury and experiential travel, with more than 20,000 advisors, knows all too well. 

“Sustainability is not a trend, in that sense, but rather an evolution of travel and Virtuoso is committed to being on the cutting edge of innovation in the global travel community”

 so says Costas Christ, Global Sustainability Strategist for Virtuoso. 

Their sustainability mission is clear; to celebrate culture, support local economies and protect the Environment. When booking yourself as opposed to using an advisor, as everything is not transparent and studying the true sustainability of a trip is time consuming, it’s great to know an advisor has your back doing the research for you, so your curated trip gives you a clean conscious.

Looking at current and future trends of travel as a business includes AI with more and more hotels using digital technology to log data as well as a way to communicate with their customers, the combination of the personal touch of a travel advisor and AI, cannot be overlooked. Yet even with the rise of Siri and Alexa being at the beck and call of your every need, there is something to be said for the fact that we cannot take the human out of humanity. “Virtuoso is in the business of helping people optimise their memories,” says CEO and Chairman Mathew Upchurch; his most transformative trip?  

“Africa, you can leave Africa but Africa never leaves you, people go to Rwanda for gorillas but they come back for the people they meet there”. When most people are time poor-cash rich, calling on experts is a given, because travel advisors have relationships with hoteliers they can often get clients in their preferred suite at short notice for example – who wouldn’t want that! but luxury is personal and open to interpretation and certainly developing in its meaning. Luxury isn’t only the hotel fittings, it’s the experience, the increasing need to disconnect to connect, digital detox breaks and self discovery programmes are on the rise and a need for authentic interactive experiences is increasing. 

People are wanting to live with a family, cook with a family, live like a local, almost a ‘living museum’, which is overtaking the desire to visit standard museums looking at artefacts. Hotels are homing in on looking after the children, their future customers. They know that children into their twenties are using travel to build their personal brands, sharing their adventures and experiences and more importantly the places they visit and hotels they stay in, looking after them is looking after business. Millennials know what they want, they’re aspirational, times are most certainly changing; it is not uncommon now for children to contact hotels asking for a free room in exchange for an Instagram post. So when booking your trip this summer why not use the expertise of a travel advisor and experience something curated just for you, if you want inspiration on where to go, check out Virtuoso’s top 5 destinations for summer 2019 according to bookings in descending order; United States, Italy, United Kingdom, France and Greece.        

Related reads: Yasemen's previous IoD 99 blog on self-publishing your passion

Learn more about the amazing business support network for entrepreneurs and start-up founders, the IoD 99!

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For more information on my trip:

Images; CEO Mathew Upchurch below and Virtuoso Japan. Article image Virtuoso Italy.

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