Eurasian, born in Hong Kong and raised in Southeast Asia, Charlotte Harris was thrown into the travel industry by her mother, Jackie Harris, at a young age. At four months old, Charlotte had done her first hotel inspection, and by three she had two African safaris under her belt.
Fast forward 25 years, and Charlotte now heads up Charlotte Travel; curating tailor-made luxury itineraries for her VIP clients. In addition to sitting on the Rosewood Travel Agent Advisory Board, she spends much of her time building relationships with hotels and other industry partners to ensure all of her clients get the maximum experience from their holidays.
Ever the intrepid traveller, we caught up with Charlotte on her return from the first edition of ILTM Asia Pacific in Singapore to discuss all things luxury travel in Asia Pacific:
“Catering for the modern Asia Pacific traveller consists of multiple aspects, however, the ability to be flexible and cater to the diversity that ‘Asia Pacific’ entails is key. From catering to favourite brand of toiletries, chocolates and even toilet roll at times. Asia Pacific travellers seek authenticity, privacy, great food and chic decor to connect them to the local environment or culture – brands such as Rosewood and Six Senses combine these four elements incredibly well.
“Asia’s rising prosperity makes it possible for us to move further into luxury niche markets. We see growth opportunities where there is increasing demand for unusual travel experiences and lesser known destinations that have not yet been overrun by mass tourism. Accordingly, we are constantly on the lookout for products and partners that are able to satisfy this demand. As our clients place high levels of trust on our advice, we also need to be confident that these partners can achieve the demanding levels of service that they expect and this is best obtained from direct contact with them. It’s this imperative for trust that increasingly drives our business model.
“Unique ways of travel are becoming increasingly popular. We see luxury camping or ‘glamping’ in the African bush or cruising on a luxury expedition vessel into the Arctic or Antarctic Circle growing in 2018. Travelling to these destinations have become easier for the luxury traveller by luxury expedition cruises or luxury camps. What’s more, millennials are becoming more conscious of the social and environmental impact they make when travelling, they are twice as likely to support brands (and governments) who place a priority in tackling these issues on the ground.
“From a Tour Operator perspective, our biggest challenge over the next 5 years is differentiation. Anyone who travels has the potential to advise. So being a professional requires the ability to rise above run-of-the-mill. The next challenge is empathy. Understanding the client is the key to giving good advice, and this isn’t easy. It requires considerable skill to convince a client that their favoured destination might be a disappointment and that somewhere else is more likely to please. When your business depends on being good at this, you have to be.
“Whilst we have maintained our level of service and expertise to our clients, our demographics have grown significantly. By leveraging the use of technology, our number of millennial clients have increased – these are young travellers in Asia Pacific whose notions of luxury are significantly different to their friends and family. We anticipate this to continuously grow in the years to come as we see more demand for personal advice in travel and an increasing number of time-poor young professionals.”
To meet Charlotte Travel and more of the Asia Pacific’s most lucrative travel designers, speak to a member of the ILTM Team to discuss ILTM Asia Pacific 2019, taking place at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, 27th – 30th May 2019.