“Traveller Made”, a new travel concept beyond luxury – Meanderings through France n° 138
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Traveller Made is a young company specialized in ultra-luxury travels designed for a limited number of extremely wealthy people who expect and can demand exclusive holidays. Created in 2013 by Quentin Desurmont, it only took a few years to make of Traveller Made the sought-after address shared by word-of-mouth between these hard to please clients.
Of course these clients could easily book tickets for a business class flight and rooms in a 5* hotel to have “basic” top-of-the-range holidays, so why do they choose to pay Traveller Made (TM) to do it? Because TM is not just another luxury travel agency, it’s a network community of travel designers who can provide unheard of destinations and arrange all the practical details of the journey. Beyond money time is precious and it takes a lot of time, knowledge and know-how to organize a private flight halfway around the world, plus a private transfer to an island paradise, plus a 4-day cruise on a yacht, plus a birthday cake in a hot-air balloon for six persons, plus, plus, plus… They just don’t have time to plan such complicated travels and are ready to pay for that service. Especially when this service is irreproachable.
Quentin Desurmont is not a newcomer in the world of luxury travel. He was born in Northern France and began his career in the textile industry. In 1999 he was hired as Country Director France in Disneyland Paris and worked there for 6 years. He then created his first travel agency, Peplum that already was specialised in luxury travels for businessmen and captains of industry. After organising for them business and leisure travels Quentin Desurmont had the brilliant idea to create a network of talented and skilled people working in travel agencies, hotels, cruise and train companies and even clinics for top range health care, in order to facilitate connections between them and to increase their potential.
To become a Traveller Made member is far from being easy. It’s a two-step process. First the candidate is pre-selected by two steering committees (luxury hoteliers, DMCs), then, the agency must provide detailed information about its own business. It also must have been in the luxury travel business for over 10 years and have a minimum turnover of 2 Millions Euros. Being strictly selective to gather the best actors in the luxury industry is an absolute necessity because this business is all based on reputation. For Traveller Made reputation is a collective construction and each member gains from being associated with specific partners. It’s a long-term process but it pays: once a client realises that TM provide a priceless service he becomes outstandingly loyal and asks for more. Once, one of Quentin’s client asked him for a one week travel with his family and just told him: “you know me, you know my family, here is the budget, create great holidays for us”. This is how it works when you have a reputation and your client’s trust.
“Essence of Luxury Deauville 2018” will the fourth annual Forum organized by TM for its members. From March 19th till March 23rd over 600 members from the whole world will be able to meet in Deauville, the famous French seaside resort in Normandy. This event is much more than a trade show, each member has a list of 100 to 130 fifteen minutes meetings during which they will make personal connections with one another and “trend” luxury experiences. Today luxury is not necessarily about acquiring objects, but about providing and living experiences and “Essence of Luxury” gives travel designers the right tools to build this kind of luxury.
Last year forum was also an opportunity for Quentin Desurmont to review TM’s progress within 12 months. And the figures were very good. TM member agencies had a 11,9% growth in 2016 while the global tourism growth reached 3,9% (in reference LVMH growth reached 5%). In 2016 TM member agencies’ sales reached an average 7 million Euros (between 1 and 35 million Euros) for a total sales of 1,9 billion Euros. Staff growth reached 7% in 270 agencies worldwide. And 2017’s figures should be even better!
Fulfilling, anticipating or creating clients’ expectations is TM’s goal.. Although international hotel chains (luxury brands) keep bringing standard and expected luxury quality assurance, more and more independent hotels (non branded) have been booked over the past few years. They offer more tailor-made and luxury service and ultra wealthy traveller tend to look more and more often for surprises and unknown “gems”, when brands offer the same flavour worldwide. Clients seek new experiences in new destinations. Asia still is a growing destination that offers safety, outstanding high end service, beautiful landscapes and reasonably priced hospitality, authentic people, excellent and healthy food, nature and discovery. Japan is doing particularly well. Africa is recovering from Ebola and tends to be a solid destination. South America is an attractive destination for complex adventure itineraries, nature and discovery, good food and wines. Indian Ocean islands are still very high but Cuba and Costa Rica are the rising stars of luxury travel.
TM agencies also have to provide new experiences and emotions to their clients who often feel like they have nothing new to do and love to be surprised. They will be offered emotional travels (private adventure, glamping, nature immersion, city experience, culture and heritage…), as well as experiential travel (luxury expedition while seeking adrenalin, risk taking or danger with elegance…), slow travel (train journey, stress detox, time to do nothing and get delectably bored in a place where no-one can find them…), “last chance to see” travel (whales, rain forest, safari, archaeology, glaciers…); gastronomy travel… It’s an endless list.
And Quentin Desurmont and his team have an endless imagination. They launched “Serendipia”, the Traveller Made’s dedicated magazine in 2017. Jean-Yves Poulain is its chief editor and designed it as a novel book. Printed in limited numbered edition (20,000 ex), it is distributed only by member agencies directly to their best customers. Serendipia tells the inspiring stories of the second-to-none bespoke experiences designed by TM member agencies. It’s all about creating desire.
The “DoNotDisturb” collection has also been launched. It’s a selection of beautifully crafted objects designed especially for Traveller Made. High-tech devices, leather watches boxes, key rings or cases, original designers suitcases… These artefacts will be purchased by the member agencies mainly as gifts for their clients.
As Laura Cammarano (Head of European Sales for the Maybourne Hotel Group) points out, “it’s fantastic to be part of Traveller Made as we meet partners to support us worldwide and we feel that this network is exactly the right choice”. In view of the growing number of members and satisfied customers, these words well reflect an opinion widely held throughout the world of ultra-luxury travel.
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny