HAUTE DUBAI Magazine / Travel /
CEO of The Travel Attaché
on The Latest Trends in Luxury Travel
Haute Dubai: How would you describe the difference between the luxury travel market and the mainstream travel market?
Liam Wholey: Luxury’ travel now means very different things to different people – for some it mean hiring a private island in the Maldives for two weeks, for others it means renting a villa with friends and family in a lesser-known part of Indonesia. Ultimately, it is about spending money on an experience that holds personal value and because our service is entirely bespoke we can ensure that we deliver that level of personal attention to each one of our clients.
HD: What are some of the paramount benefits of having a travel agent for your travels?
LW: Our team has over 50 years combined experience in the luxury travel and tourism sectors so we really are well placed to advise our clients on where to go, when and how - often, holidaymakers will book a flight, book a hotel and then rely on guidebooks or the Internet for suggestions of what to do on arrival but we pride ourselves on our first-hand experience of our destinations. We have direct contracts with over 350 of the world’s leading hotels and work with over 200,000 suppliers all of whom give us preferential rates and service, which naturally we pass on to our customers. As well as the larger hotel groups we also work with boutique resorts and private properties so we can suggest alternatives to the more obvious destinations. We can organize complex itineraries including multiple-stop trips with internal transfers and corporate getaways that might involve guests flying in from several countries. Last but certainly not least, we make booking a holiday enjoyable again, removing the need for time-consumingresearch and the risk of costly mistakes by discussing our clients’ needs and expectations and then coming back to them with a full proposal that suits their tastes, requirements and most importantly perhaps, their budget. We take the stress out of travel restoring it instead to its glamorous best. research and the risk of costly mistakes by discussing our clients’ needs and expectations and then coming back to them with a full proposal that suits their tastes, requirements and most importantly perhaps, their budget. We take the stress out of travel restoring it instead to its glamorous best.
HD: What is the demographic you serve now? Who accesses your services?
LW: Our clients tend to be well-heeled, well-informed individuals and corporations with a thirst for new horizons and a preference for discovering them in style. We are extremely fortunate in the UAE in that we are exposed to, and interact with, numerous cultures on a daily basis so many of our customers come to us equipped with a very clear idea of where they would like to travel to. Others are faced with enormous time pressures and look to us to come up with suggestions and ideas that will comply with a whole host of requirements.
HD:Which worldwide destinations have been popular amongst your elite clientele?
LW: Lately we have noticed a change in direction regarding destinations, with requests for vacations in countries such as Bhutan, Brazil and the Philippines. Naturally, we are evolving with our clients’ tastes and continuously working to find new and fresh ideas that ensure our position as a leading travel expert in the region.
HD: Which destinations, attractions and events are you most excited for this summer?
LW: Europe is always a great destination over the Summer months - cities such as London and Paris are timeless in their appeal and southern Europe and the Mediterranean are at their most vibrant from June to September. There are wonderful alternatives however, which are particularly well suited to those who might be looking for something calmer and quieter. Indonesia is wonderful in July and August and although the temperatures are a little cooler and the rains can pick up, the Indian Ocean is still lovely and certainly less busy than it is from November to April.
HD: As an eminent figure in the luxury travel industry, you must have stayed at some top-end hotels. What’s the most luxurious place you’ve ever stayed at?
LW: I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled to some breathtaking resorts but my idea of a luxury break is being at home with my wife and son and our dogs. It rarely happens!
HD: Travel Attaché offers some unusual yet fantastic experience packages like “Spy Mission” and “Fighter Pilot”, have you seen a substantial interest in such experiences? How would you encourage people to try them?
LW: When it comes to top-end holidays, our clients are coming to us looking for experiences that go beyond simple hotel bookings – we have noticed a sharp increase in requests for outlandish activities such as heli-skiing and snow-biking this Winter as well as adrenaline-fuelled safaris. Cruises and private yachts are also emerging as distinctive trends, with many of our customers looking for a new approach to travel.
HD: Do you have strategic alliances that take part in meeting clienteles’ requirements or are you more centralized?
LW: Whilst we have a great deal of expertise and knowledge in-house, we have partners all over the world with whom we work closely to ensure that we can deliver the high level of service in situ that our clients deserve and expect. Luxury travel is no longer simply about booking hotels, flights and transfers. It is increasingly becoming about helping a customer get on ‘the inside track’ in the destination and to discover more about a place than a guide book can provide. Luxury travel is about capturing real and genuine experiences. The important point about partners is the trust that they have built up with us over the years – we work with them because we know they always deliver.
HD: What are The Travel Attaché’s main competitive differentiators?
LW: Apart from the Exclusive Experiences such as the Spy Missions, the opportunity to play golf with stars of the golfing world and many others – it is reallyservice, knowledgeable and highly-trained staff, creative thinking and a commitment to going the extra mile for our clients that sets us apart in the market. The Travel Attaché takes away the headache of organizing a holiday.
HD:What is next on the horizon for The Travel Attaché and where do you intend on taking it years from now?
LW: For the immediate future we are concentrating on organizing summer holidays for our clients as this is peak season so we are very busy. In the longer term we are planning our international expansion with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar the next offices for The Travel Attaché.