TAKK Interview: The Luxury Travel Agent

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Turquoise Holidays is an award winning luxury tour operator and TAKK spoke to their marketing manager Grace Wright regarding the changes she is seeing in the tourism industry.

Tell us about Yourself, Turquoise Travel & your role?

I have the pleasure of being the Marketing Manager at Turquoise Holidays. From working at this luxury tour operator for 5 years, I have learnt what service really means. We specialise in luxury long haul holidays, honeymoons and once in a lifetime trips. Our portfolio consists of a niche selection of hotels that we have tried and tested.

At least one person from our team has seen every hotel we work with in order for us give the very best experience possible without overspending. Within my role, I work with the national newspapers, magazines, influencers, bloggers and hotels. We carry out a number of campaigns each year with tourist boards and hotels to show the people and places of our destinations and highlight how very often there is much more beyond the hotel. Service is key for our business and, with a very small team of travel specialists, we pride ourselves on being the best in the business having won the Conde Nast Readers Award three times in the last four years along with the best tour operator at the Telegraph Travel Awards.

What changes have you seen happening over the past few years in the travel industry in response to sustainability issues and climate change?

Hotels are becoming very aware of their actions and are taking responsibility for what they do. These things all take time and slowly new laws and regulations will be introduced to sustain areas such as the beautiful Maldivian islands for the future.

What big changes are the hotels and airlines making?
It has become a trend to adopt ways to become more sustainable andmany of the worlds leading hotels have enforced strategies to do so. These include measures such as reducing waste, sustainability education and becoming more self-sufficient.

The Brando Hotel is almost fully self-sustainable. All energy they produce is renewable – for example, all the rainwater is collected and stored to supply all the toilets and laundry on the island. They also have Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) where cold water is taken from deep in the ocean and piped to land to convert it for use at the hotel.

Other changes are introducing projects focussed on improving the well being of the local communities and natural environments.

With flying being very unsustainable, there have been a few changes and suggestions in order to improve your fuel efficiency. These include choosing a newer, more fuel efficient plane such as an A380 or Boeing 787; taking a direct flight instead of one with a stopover. Some airlines are slowly going plastic free such as Etihad who have pledged to remove 80% of single-use plastics across the business by the end of 2022.
For couples it tends to be the Maldives, Bora Bora and East Africa. The Maldives is the classic over water, picture perfect, deserted island bliss, while Bora Bora is still that postcard look but with the option to explore culture and local life. East Africa is all about safari and beach with exhilarating early morning game drives and private sundowners in the bush.

Are you seeing any changing patterns regarding how and where the public are booking holidays?

  • Off the beaten track destinations – hand picked boutique hotels and smaller resorts so it is less stress on the environment and far more enjoyable for you. This can also be more rewarding – Oman in the middle east is a gem that is yet to register on most people’s radars yet.
  • Travelling out of season. You may miss out on the best weather (it is not as bad as you fear!) but you’ll also dodge the crowds. Take the Caribbean for an example – many visitors stay clear of the summer hurricane season but islands like Grenada escape a lot of the storms leaving plenty of hours of sunshine.
  • Stay in eco-friendly hotels – more hotels are adopting a keener focus for eco-initiatives to help lower footprints and it’s an issue that is becoming closer to our hearts. Brands like Six Senses are brilliant at this, they transform every aspect of their business to become greener.

Families love the Caribbean, islands like Antigua and Mauritius.
We don’t experience a huge amount of confliction, but if any that people want to feel they are doing good but also want the high levels of service and don’t want to compromise. If an island turns off electricity from 10pm-5am this can cause problems.

What are the conflicting areas when booking a luxury holiday for demanding guests and sustainability?

The need for water: In areas where drought is a problem people will still expect to have showers and running water on demand.

A lot of people love the authentic wood look everywhere at tropical resorts. The wood is often from local trees which sometimes isn’t sustainable and the upkeep of the wood is a lot of work and time consuming.

Grace’s overview of the travel industry certainly shows a shift towards more sustainable practices. Looking at the Brando website it looks like purely sustainable hotels can still provide an amazing experience - the photos are incredible! If we can all be a little more mindful of what it actually takes to provide a 5* experience then maybe there will be less complaints about water shortages and lights being turned off at 10pm - it seems a small price to pay to protect these beautiful parts of the world so that our children can visit the too.

Read an interview with Megan Six Senses Laamu’s Sustainability Manager here

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