We all have heard of “luxury travel”. But how do you define it? What can be called a “luxury trip”? Today we have a chat with a man who has over 20 years of experience working in the luxury travel sector, Mr. Andy Carroll, Global Head of Sales and Marketing of Exotic Voyages.
GTM: Hello Mr. Carroll! Thank you for taking time to talk with us. Nowadays, the term “luxury travel” is being used more and more in our industry. However, not many of us understand what it truly means. As an experienced professional who has worked for several luxury travel companies around the world, how do you define it?
AC: In the past, when we mentioned a luxury trip, people will automatically associate it with staying in splendid 5-star hotels or sailing on spectacular cruises. So luxury travel used to be defined by expensive accommodations during their trip. Today, whilst this is still true, but luxury travel is a wider spectrum. Luxury now means the exclusivity of the experiences that travelers will be having during their trip. A few night stay at an authentic and eco-friendly lodge in the remote mountainous area Northern Vietnam or a trip to the less-visited Mergui Archipelago in Southern Myanmar can also be called “luxury”, because they are experiences that very few other travelers have encountered. Instead of private helicopter transfer, royal decorations or private butlers, you have the chance to really interact with the local’s life or immerse yourself with pure natural beauty.
Spectacular sunset in the mountainous region of Northern Vietnam
GTM: So what do you think is the cause of our evolved perception of luxury?
AC: It is because of no one else but the travelers themselves. Changing and evolving travel behavior, what they demanding of their trip have changed. Today, many luxury travelers do not only seek world-class accommodations, they also want to learn more about the local culture, to feel a sense of belonging to nature. In other words, they demand more exclusive experiences; they want to unveil the secrets in the destinations that they will be traveling to. Simply put, to them, it is the experiences that matter as much as the comfort it is taken, if you have both in equal measures… Well that’s a whole different luxury.
GTM: To a luxury travel company like Exotic Voyages, what are the challenges now in terms of adapting with this new perception?
AC: The biggest challenge for us is how easy it is right now for travelers to get access to information on the internet, travel forums or guide books. Many think they know what they want even when it is not right for them as the individual. Our job is to give them the correct advice, to show them that there are still lots of other things to do especially for their tastes, to see that they can only experience these by traveling with us. For each and every single one of us at Exotic Voyages, to understand what luxury really means right now is imperative. That starts from the Production Team, who works tirelessly to find new experiences, activities that are truly unique and authentic in their regions. Then, it’s up to our Travel Expert Team to acquire traveler’s insights. In other words, they have to “sense” what travelers are seeking, even before they are told, so they can offer the right products.
A trip to the ancient fortress of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka is one of the truly luxury experiences that you can have while traveling with Exotic Voyages
GTM: Before we finish, I would like to ask you one more question. If you have only one choice, what would you choose as your personal favorite luxury travel experience?
AC: It’s a difficult question to answer. I myself feel very lucky that during my career thus far, I have worked with several different luxury travel companies worldwide and I had the opportunities to go to many corners of the world. But if I have to choose one, I would say the hot air balloon ride in Bagan, Myanmar, a country that has only recently opened its door to mass tourism. The archeological site of Bagan is truly incredible, with thousands of ancient temples scattering over a riverside plain that is about the size of Manhattan. But to witness this magnificent site from a hot air balloon up high, at sunrise is an experience that really fascinated me. And I am not the only one, many travelers who went to Myanmar with Exotic Voyages also found it a highlight of their trip. Besides this is also a perfect photographic opportunity.
Hot air balloon ascending at sunrise in Bagan
GTM: Mr. Carroll, thank you for taking time to talk with us!
AC: My pleasure!