Luxury Travel connection forum 2016 TravellerMade ®

TravellerMade ® represents a very unique community, which specialises in providing luxury travel experience for clients. It comprises of 190 leading luxury travel agencies from 48 countries. The mission of the community is quite simple and straightforward; it’s all about providing “bespoke creations that are suited to individual needs”.

The Luxury Travel Designers Connection Forum (Montreux, March 2016), was premised on the fact that the luxury travel industry is made up of different parts which includes art and luxury. Based on this, the speakers at the conference were drawn from the world of art and luxury.

The speakers were:
- Dominique Brême, a famous art historian

- Jean Noel Kapferer, a professor at INSEEC who explained at the luxury chair, that there was a relationship between art and luxury; the luxury brands need art and artworks, while the artists and their art are sponsored by the brands.He also mentioned the fact that artists create special collections from inspirations gotten during their travels.

- Anne Laurre Le Seaux,  retail director in Europe and CIS at Van Cleef and Arpels, explained the genesis of the Heritage Collection: a need to transfer the unique craftsmanship of the past to future generations (selling vintage masterpiece of Van Cleef and Arpel)

- Aurélie Labruyère of Vindême, explained to us what really makes Bordeaux wines so valuable seeing as famous wines are an essential part of luxury items.

- Madeleine Olivier, senior analyst at Custom Research Wealth-X, estimated the market in 2014 of the UHNWs (the ultra rich with at least 30 million USD) to 211,274 individuals with an estimated growth to 35 per cent by 2020.

- Nathalie Remy, a partner at Mc Kinsey , focused on the Millenium generation of UHNWs (born between 1980 and 2000) and their needs They currently represent 20 per cent of market spending on luxury goods and by 2025, they should represent 40 per cent. They are the “digital natives”, so the luxury brands and travel industry need to find a new way to target this population by utilizing a digital approach. People in this population are known to mix luxury with casuals even while travelling; for example, flying low cost airlines and staying in high-end 5 star hotels. They share their experiences online, follow key digital influencers and have a need to feel unique and connected, which is a real challenge for the luxury travel industry.

The world of Luxury travel design is changing rapidly. The advent of new technologies has brought on new and exciting travel options as well as the possibility of a new professional designation- the Travel Designer.

Who is a luxury Travel Designer?

Could it possibly be just another fanciful way of saying “travel agent’? A travel designer is a craftsman. Their skills, passion and expertise are utilized to create unforgettable positive experiences for clients. It goes beyond creating travel packages because it entails ensuring that every trip is turned into an experience that clients will treasure forever.

TravellerMade has always been at the forefront of the travel design business; therefore attending a conference organized by the company is a great opportunity to gain more insight into the business and the latest trends and developments in the industry. Usually, awards are presented to participating companies based on the professionalism, creativity, performance and forward-thinking of their travel designers.

At the conference, I had the opportunity of speaking to many talented travel designers members of TravellerMade ® on behalf of the blog. They provided answers to the questions I asked about their defining moments and the best memory in the course of their career as travel designers. Below are some of their responses:

TapisRouge (France) – Carole Ange

« A 6 months travel organized for an 80 yr old traveller and his wife with a chartered private jet and helicopter. He wanted to discover not only  the beauty of South Africa, but also the real life of the people and the economic potentials seeing as he was still active in business., The Challenge was to organize new activities every day that would suit him and his wife, including cooking or traditional dance classes. »

Travel Club Monaco – Yves Rouach

« My first designed travel was a personal one in South Africa (Mandela’s time). There was no internet at that time to provide information, so it was not easy. I discovered secret Lodges including the now famous Londolozi which is now Relais & Chateaux »

Rask Travel (UK) – Jonas Rask Eilersen

« A truly amazing wedding organized by us from beginning to end, including a fantastic and unique experience in Thailand »

Beverley Travel (UK)  – Andrew Bezhenar 

« One of our most creative bespoke travel was for a celebrity and his family (6 people in total ) who wanted to explore India and all its beautiful landmarks but with all security required. I spent 3 days talking with them in order to understand their inspirations, their tastes and come up with something that could be done to exceed their expectations. A team was put in place to collaborate with the locals and work out the logistics; eventually they selected the Palace hotels, a dedicated chef, security guards, 2 bullet-proof 4×4 vehicles, helicopters, 3 butlers and expert local guides. It was their most wonderful travel experience»

Luxe Privé ( UK) – Namai Bischop 

« It was a three-night engagement trip to Italy, with visits to incredible spots and romantic places. The engagement was done on the last night and this is usually a very special moment for a travel designer»

Haslemere Travel (UK) – Gemma Antrobus 
« The longest trip we organised was a 6 months travel for a couple enjoying their early retirement. 90 per cent of the hotels used were TravellerMade selected luxury hotels and they spent 3 to 4 nights in each hotel. They visited many countries including Australia, US, New Zealand, and Hawaii »

Private Travel (UK) – Joanna Davies 

« a 2 weeks helicopter travel around Ethiopia »

Platinium Travel Journeys (China) – Mark Mekki

« A unique 10-days trip in the Central China desert with a family from the United States. All was done on camels with local guides and all safety measures were put in place (satellite phone, spare camels, etc.)

Peplum (France) – Quentin Desurmont

« A state of the art travel, what I will call HD Travel : 8 people had a dream to go to Bali, Indonesia in order to trek on volcanoes, dive and experience true adventure; the entire trp being filmed in HD by a dedicated team and drones like in a TV documentary. More than just the travel, they become heroes of their own exploration using high-tech equipments, jets, yatchs, and so on.It was a new way to experience travel, more like a unique life experience.

Celestiel Travel (USA) – Doulas Easton

« I remember this highly creative bespoke honeymoon travel organized for a Quatari Prince and friends, they were four couples. The idea was a treasure hunt in 4 cities (London, Paris, LA and NY). Our agency is very creative itself as we are on the road travel designers and we propose only hotels and spots we already visited.Last year we visited 120 hotels and you can watch our experience videos on our Youtube chains with over 200 videos »

Hotels are also part of these unique travel experiences and we had a chance to interview Diana Banks, Vice president of Raffles Brand and luxury sales.
« New Raffles, Istanbul represents the unique DNA of Raffles: a very good client of Raffles went to Istanbul, and during his tour of the city, his sunglasses got broken. He came back to the hotel and went out again to continue his tour; when he finally came back to the hotel his sunglasses had been fixed without him asking. »

One of the most interesting things about this conference was the opportunity it gave me to become more exposed to the recent innovations in the luxury travel industry; the facilitators of the conference and the travel designers I spoke with, all made me realize that the world of luxury travel is changing rapidly. In line with this, the new keywords in high end travel are words such as simplicity, passion, inspiration and emotion. Travellers aren’t just looking to travel somewhere trendy, they also want to have a one-of-a-kind experience as well as custom hospitality tailored around their needs and lifestyle, in a way that they can create memories and treasure each trip for a whole lifetime.

This conference helped to shed a new light on the business and dynamics of luxury traveling, particularly offering instrumental insights that truly re-define the public perception of the luxury traveller. Today, the luxury traveller is not simply a discerning customer of fancy hotels, expensive restaurants and premium locations, the modern day luxury travel is a connoisseur of the finer things in life; someone who values every journey as an authentic life experience, truly taking the time to savour each and every step of their trip, from their stay in a hotel room, to breakfast in the morning, to exploring new environments

Luxury traveling is a state of the mind. It’s all about discovering the essence of adventure, following the spirit of exploration as well as seizing the opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s most unique and tantalizing experiences and build memories to treasure forever.

In conclusion, I’d like to quote a beautiful statement from the conference’s press release, “Luxury travellers expect their perception of the world to be transformed by new travel ideas”. The sentence is really striking, because I feel that it captures the essence of what it is like to be a travel designer, as well as the spirit of the modern luxury travel looking to truly experience every destination.

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