The Luxury Travel Society featured in London Life magazine

Founders Spencer and Simon spoke to London Life magazine to give their take on the UK travel industry. Read the full article below...

Hi Guys, how did you get into the travel industry?
Simon – I came into the travel industry straight from school, initially working for a software company who supplied an airfares database to the travel industry. They had an in-house travel agency and I soon realised I enjoyed helping people find their perfect holiday far more rewarding than the technology side of the industry and haven’t looked back since.

Spencer – I was always obsessed with travel and holidays and knew I wanted a career in the industry just didn’t know where to start. A chance conversation with someone led to me to join a new Lunn Poly store in Fulham in the early 90’s and went from there, I took to sales quite quickly but always had a plan to move into the product and commercial area of the industry, in my head I wanted to get paid to travel and look at hotels and that’s how it turned out to be for a number of years.

You must have seen some dramatic changes in that time?
Spencer – Yes of course, Lunn Poly were a traditional shop front travel agency mainly dealing with walk in customers, after that I worked through the teletext era which then moved into the web space. From my side its always been a similar process just the distribution and the way people decide to purchase a holiday has changed dramatically.

Simon – As Spence said yes, many changes. Having been in travel since the teletext was the preferred media for advertising holidays, the biggest change has been the internet. This changed how companies advertised and how consumers purchased. It’s a bittersweet tool for what once was primarily a service industry, but I now believe that we are almost going full circle, and due to the saturation of online options, people are now preferring to interact personally with a company when they are booking holidays, which is where we come in.

"Our demographic of client is generally 34+ who need a break, or some family time and we will look after every facet of that starting from having them or even just their luggage picked up from home and delivered to their room for their arrival"

How about changes in what people want from a holiday?
Simon – It depends on the person, we have some clients who work for themselves and can travel 3 or 4 times a year and do a bit of everything the we have others in high executive positions but ultimately still employees so may have the 25-28 days allowance only. This clientele has changed slightly in that whilst they still need to use this time to relax, they want a bit of an experience with that. People have such long bucket lists now they need to start early.

Spencer – The idea of a holiday hasn’t changed much and that is where we specialise. Our demographic of client is generally 34+ who need a break, or some family time and we will look after every facet of that starting from having them or even just their luggage picked up from home and delivered to their room for their arrival. The new generation want more of an experience or a story to tell on social media, they don’t want to sit on a beach and relax they want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and take a picture of themselves washing an Elephant at the peak.

Are there Elephants on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Spencer – Never been but I wouldn’t imagine there were, would be an impressive sight if one was plotted up there though!

So how did the Luxury Travel Society come to be?
Simon – Myself and Spencer have worked together since the afore mentioned teletext days, and always spoke about one day starting a company. Although this was often excused as chit chat, we eventually took this seriously and with a lot of encouragement from industry peers and the support of our book of long-standing leisure clients we took the plunge. We have combined experience and expertise from different sides of the travel industry, so the Luxury Travel Society was born.

Spencer – As Simon mentioned we started out together a long time ago and ended up selling worldwide luxury packages which we always tailor made bespoke to the client’s needs. The last 18 years since internet based travel started up has been amazing but we have seen service levels and attention to detail drop, the internet has become
a modern day teletext with everyone wanting everything for as low a price as they can get it and this has a detrimental effect on service levels. We decided we wanted to go a bit retro and go back to the personal levels of service that we started out with, the definition of luxury means different things to different people but we have the expertise to pair the right people with the right destinations and hotels.

“We have vast knowledge not just of the hotels but the destinations, if you want a local restaurant recommended and booked, we will handle this before travel or even whilst the clients are there”

Any A listers on your books?
Simon – We have quite a few well-known people booking with us, but we would never discuss who they are or where they go, we go to great lengths to secure their privacy.

Understood, what sets you apart from the rest?

Spencer – I would say our product knowledge, whilst we can book anything our clients ask for the hotels on our website have been hand selected based on them having all met the criteria we want. Basically, deluxe hotels offering world class service alongside world class facilities where we have been and can vouch for both. You would find it hard to find as personal a level of service as we offer, we are a small team and we know the numbers of clients we can handle so whilst of course we want to grow our business we don’t want or need to grow it too much, we know our formula of how many clients we can handle whilst maintaining the highest levels of service. At the end of the day your holiday starts with us and its down to us to give the levels of service we then expect from our chosen hotel partners upon your arrival.

Simon – Service, knowledge of the hotels and destinations we sell, and doing that little bit extra to make sure our clients have a memorable holiday. Our clients know they can contact us anytime with queries, even via text on our mobiles, no matter how small the query we will assist. We have vast knowledge not just of the hotels but the destinations, if you want a local restaurant recommended and booked, we will handle this before travel or even whilst the clients are there.

Spencer – We are not kids anymore; we have 50 years of luxury travel experience between us! In that period, we have forged great relationships with our hotel partners and their people so our clients will always be taken good care of, our reach goes way beyond us and therefore we called it The Luxury Travel Society.

It seems a challenging time for the travel industry right now?
Simon – There are always challenges for the travel industry. In my time we’ve had to overcome the impact of wars, terrorism, natural disasters and financial crashes, that all impacted the travel industry greatly. These unfortunate circumstances affect many industries, but thankfully the desire to travel embedded in human nature has allowed us to overcome such challenges.

Spencer – The industry has to be one of the most tenacious and resilient that there is, people will always need a holiday and I think most look at it as a necessity rather than a luxury, I couldn’t imagine going a year without a break of some sort? The plight of Thomas Cook is a tough one for the industry as they were pretty much the founding fathers of what we do but they had been mismanaged for so long. The ongoing Brexit saga hasn’t really stopped people from travelling but the weak pound has had an impact on certain destinations, the bottom line is people will always need to travel whether it be for business or pleasure.

So, where do two guys, who have seemingly been everywhere, go on holiday?
Simon – Having two young children, I’m now balancing the requirements of kids with my desire to tick off all the destinations on my bucket list. In the process I am finding destinations that you wouldn’t normally assume to be family friendly suitable for everyone. We’ve enjoyed amazing family holidays to the Maldives, Italian Lakes, Greek Islands and South Africa, which you would normally imagine to be geared towards adults only.

Spencer – For me it depends on what I am looking for from that particular break, if I need to switch off and chill then the Maldives is the great spot to leave the world behind but the perfect spot would be somewhere in the Caribbean, I have always been very passionate about the region as I love the laid back vibe of the people and adore the food. Simon and I were at the forefront of the movement to bring Dubai to the masses in the late 90’s, whilst Dubai has changed beyond comprehension in those 20 years it never ceases to amaze me and if you want a bit of the high life with amazing standards and out of this world service then Dubai is a great choice. I was lucky enough to stay in a two bedroom beach villa at the Bvlgari in Dubai recently and hand on heart that has to be the best room product I have ever stayed in, very private and if I am honest it felt like being in the Maldives which is unique amongst the hustle and bustle of Dubai.

Article Credit to The Life Magazines. Link to full magazine:


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