Designing Travel: How These Travel Agents Are Winning The Hearts and Wallets of The Super Rich

Designing Travel: How These Travel Agents Are Winning The Hearts and Wallets of The Super Rich 960 699 C-Suite Network

Before the Internet, the impetus for a consumer to contact a travel agent was to book an airline ticket. While you’re on the phone, maybe book a hotel and car rental too, or if it was a resort vacation, talk about ideas and things to do once you got there. For others, there were escorted tours your travel agent could book, pre-planned itineraries usually by motor coach where you joined other travelers with like interests and followed a guide with a sign on a stick through museums and cathedrals. Then for awhile, it seemed like you didn’t need a travel agent, since you had Captain Kirk, Roaming Gnomes, Expedia, Priceline and Kayak. After a couple ruined vacations and trying to get rerouted when your airline’s computers stopped working, many of you realized while being your own travel agent might sound good in those commercials, it was more akin to being your own attorney, and while you can cut your own hedges, you probably would have a hard time recreating Blenheim Palace in your back garden. Your own culinary talents are probably a tad short of Daniel Boulud. In other words, if you wanted to experience something special, you needed professional assistance.

The next Iron Chef? Traveller Made is hoping its top travel designers will reach the same stature as celebrity chefs and fashion designers.

It’s at some point during this period that the species formerly known as travel agents began to morph into travel consultants, advisors, or in the case of Paris-based Traveller Made, travel designers. While today’s breed of travel planners are enjoying a renaissance at all levels of travel, the segment they are now playing the most critical role is in luxury, especially the highest end, where suites and villas rent for $5,000 to $50,000 per night. You can tell the venture capital folks in Silicon Valley that the intermediaries have solidly re-intermediated themselves into the distribution chain.

In two weeks over 2,000 advisors who are part of the Virtuoso network will take over the Bellagio and Aria hotels in Las Vegas to network and be feted by over 2,000 luxury suppliers, including hotel general managers and many CEOs. It’s not small business. The group, which is made up of independently owned agencies together generates over $14…