This year celebrating its sixth anniversary, Australian boutique travel company Luxury Escapes has found a passionate new CEO in Cameron Holland.
Stepping up from the role of CCO took on the position from the brand’s co-founder Adam Schwab. Previously, he had accumulated a decade of experience in travel with Jetstar and Lonely Planet. Most recently a senior executive with health, wealth and living group Australian Unity, Cameron says his decision to return to the travel industry was an easy one.
Founded in 2013 in Melbourne, Luxury Escapes has grown to have more than two million subscribers and customers across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, the US and the UK.
The CEO Magazine sat down with Cameron to discuss the greatest trends shaping the global travel market today and how Luxury Escapes is changing the way people book and experience a holiday.
Q. Tell us about your career journey at Luxury Escapes.
A. I’ve worked in a variety of industries and spent over a decade working in travel, so the opportunity to be back in travel with such a respected brand was too good to pass up.
Luxury Escapes is a business showing no signs of slowing down, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of working in a rapidly changing environment.
Q. What are the biggest trends you’re currently seeing in the global travel market?
A. Our top trending destinations right now are Australia, the Maldives, South-East Asia and the United Arab Emirates. We’ve also noticed that travellers are becoming more adventurous with their destination choices.
We’re seeing an increased interest in destinations such as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Russia, Morocco and India; some of which may be due to improved security conditions in those regions. Even in Asia – one of the hottest destinations for Australian travellers – we are seeing a shift from popular beachside escapes in favour of emerging destinations like Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
“We’re seeing an increased interest in destinations such as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Russia, Morocco and India; some of which may be due to improved security conditions in those regions.”
Another trend we’ve seen is unique, local experiences at the forefront of travel planning with a huge demand for niche travel. People are travelling to pursue their passions, whether that’s food and wine, sport or architecture. This is an element we are actively incorporating into our ‘Created by LE’ touring product and hotel inclusions.
Finally, while holidays outside of Australia continue to fuel wanderlust, there appears to be a growing desire for Australians to explore their own backyard. We predict domestic travel will be big this year. In 2018, we saw an annual increase of 27% in short-break holidays and we expect that figure to rise again this year.
Q. What are your top three travel tips?
- The best way to immerse yourself in a destination is through the people who live there. Take a tour or hire a local guide that can open the doors you won’t find on Google.
- Always pre-book your arrival hotel transfer. Having someone waiting at the airport to whisk you off to your hotel is such a welcome relief when you step off a flight. We always include transfers in our Luxury Escapes tours and hotel packages so you don’t have to worry.
- Get clever with your frequent flyer points and use them to your advantage. Make sure you link your frequent flyer account with any of their partners to truly optimise your points accumulation.
Q. As an online platform, how do you ensure personalised customer service?
A. Holidays are incredibly personal experiences and it’s essential to provide a personalised customer experience during the booking stage. From day one, we have placed a large emphasis on customer experience. In fact, right up until last year, our founder was still answering customer service calls.
One of the best services on holiday is the hotel concierge and we’ve adapted this to provide a concierge-like experience to any customer who calls or emails the Luxury Escapes team. As an online platform, we have always been aware of the need to meet our members face-to-face and we have played in the experiential space with pop-up stores and roadshows to bridge that gap.
It’s important to us that our customer service experience extends past the booking stage. Our Luxury Escapes tours are handpicked by travel experts to ensure the best experiences and our customers are greeted on arrival by expert Luxury Escapes tour leaders.
“From day one, we have placed a large emphasis on customer experience. In fact, right up until last year, our founder was still answering customer service calls.”
Q. Tell us about your plans for Luxury Escapes over the next 12 to 18 months?
A. Luxury Escapes has already come so far in such a short period and we want to keep the momentum going. We’ve established offices in Singapore and India, and our plan is to continue our international growth by building a larger consumer presence overseas.
We’ve already made a mark on the international landscape through our digital presence, where we have used Facebook to improve our targeting and product fit within each region.
We are also committed to building our product suite to create a full-service product for our travellers. We recently launched insurance and shortly we will be integrating flights with our holiday packages.
Our customers will soon be able to personalise and plan their holiday packages with the option to add on local experiences and attractions at check-out, and we’ll also be launching more cruising options to complement the thriving hotel and resorts side of the business.
Q. What destination is at the top of your travel list and why?
A. I’m making a personal dream of mine come true this year when I head to the Monaco Grand Prix, which I’m very excited about. The next destination on the list will have to be Portugal with my family – its vibrancy has always been appealing and I love petiscos. Lucky for me, Luxury Escapes is continuing to grow with European products.
If you’re looking for more travel inspiration, these are the best countries in the world in 2019.