What does your job entail?
As I am the Manager and part owner of the agency, I undertake all the regular responsibilities of running a business. However, most of my time is predominantly spent as a travel advisor to my clients. I help them create unique and amazing experiences that are tailored to their travel dreams, whether that be on a cruise, close to home or somewhere on the other side of the world.
How do you position Travel Associates agencies in the world of luxury travel?
Our clients love to travel and experience new and different things, as well as a little bit of luxury – don’t we all! But luxury means different things to different people, so we take care in understanding exactly what our clients need and want. At Elliott & Turner, we pride ourselves on our Purple Ribbon Experience. Essentially, this means that all of our clients experience the very best, personalised service from us, however best suits them, whether this is face to face, over the phone or via email. With us, the luxury starts from your very first appointment.
The Purple Ribbon experience is all about how we add value to the holiday booking process through our years of expertise, our personal travel experience, and our detailed knowledge of the client and what they’re looking for. We take the time to really get to know each and every client, as well as their preferences, in order to always provide advice that’s tailored to the individual. One size definitely doesn’t fit all in our business.
Many of our clients come back year after year to plan their holidays with us because they love our recommendations. So much so, that many also refer their friends, families and children to us, which is the greatest compliment we can receive. With these, we know our Purple Ribbon touch and expertise is well regarded and valued.
What type of experiences are your clients seeking?
Most of our clients are well travelled and their needs are always changing. They are looking more at bespoke types of itineraries that are tailor made to their interests. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with group tours or off the rack itineraries. Some of our clients are interested in these types of experiences and we work side by side with luxury tour operators who are experts at them. However, I am finding that more and more of our clients are wanting to venture outside of the norm and try something different. They tend to venture to more out of the way places such as Patagonia, the Arctic or regional destinations where they can really immerse themselves in the different cultures that our beautiful world has to offer. I am also finding that our clients are becoming a lot more aware of climate change and tend to seek hotels that are sensitive to global concerns and who are doing all they can to reduce their global foot print. The Brando hotel on the coast of Tahiti that powers their cooling system by drawing and recycling water from the ocean is a great example!
Where do your clients travel?
As I mentioned above, we’re experiencing a peak of enquiries to places such as Antarctica, Patagonia and the High Arctic. River cruising is still popular, however it’s becoming more regional. Your classic cruise is still going strong and there’s been a peak in world cruise interest. Asia is very popular, in particular Vietnam. Eastern Europe and, surprisingly, the USA is still in demand, regardless of the high cost of accommodation and the current exchange rate. In more recent times, luxury rail travel is also being asked for by our clients.
Are there any particular markets you are focusing on?
We have over 50 years of experience at Elliott & Turner and between the team we have travelled to 85 countries, so I can proudly say that we specialise in all destinations.
What changes have you seen or are anticipating within the industry?
We’re definitely anticipating a move from big chain hotels to more boutique hotels that will provide unique experiences for our clients. There seems to be more demand for anything smaller – smaller group tours which allow for navigating more out of the way places with ease or smaller luxury ships that will give our clients a more personalised service. In terms of flying experiences, were are definitely seeing more demand for premium economy seats and airline websites that are easier to navigate. Also within the technology space, digital innovation is a must. What modern travellers really want is personalised service that they can control.
Are there people or companies that you are inspired by or who you think are doing a great job in this space?
I don’t have any names in particular, however I am always inspired by those who understand that our industry is constantly changing and those who understand that what the clients are looking for will always win. Nowadays, clients are looking for a more personalised service that will help them achieve whatever their goals are for travelling. Clients are more aware of what is happening globally and so I am inspired by companies who are sensitive to this and are still able to take people to the top spots around the world with care.