In this episode of TravelPreneur, we explore the transformative travel experiences, delving into the innovative strategies employed by Travel Leaders 365. Lindsay Taylor-Lauer, the director of Travel Leaders 365, takes us on a journey through their distinctive approach, showcasing how they curate personalised and enriching travel experiences for their clients. From unique destinations to tailored adventures, Travel Leaders 365 stands out in the art of crafting unforgettable journeys.
Lessons You’ll Learn:
Lindsay Taylor Lauer, Director of Business Development at Travel Leaders 365, shares valuable insights on how to break free from industry norms and redefine the role of a travel advisor. The discussion emphasizes the importance of immersive experiences, individualization in travel planning, and the integration of cutting-edge technology.
About Our Guest:
Lindsay Taylor Lauer is the Director of Business Development and Director of Luxury and Hosting for Travel Leaders 365. With a background in education and over 20 years of experience in the travel industry, Lindsay brings a unique perspective to the conversation. Her passion lies in transforming the artistry of luxury travel planning.
Lindsay Taylor Lauer, Director at Travel Leaders 365, brings a wealth of experience to the episode, emphasizing the company’s 35 years of expertise in crafting tailored and transformative travel experiences. Lindsay discusses the importance of individualization and immersive journeys, highlighting Travel Leaders 365’s familial approach that ensures a personalised and genuine service for clients. The episode touches on the company’s commitment to redefining the role of travel advisors through innovative technologies, aiming to enhance the overall client experience.
Our Guest: Lindsay Taylor Lauer: A Visionary Leader Transforming Luxury Travel at Travel Leaders 365
Lindsay Taylor Lauer holds the dual roles of Director of Business Development and Director of Luxury and Hosting for Travel Leaders 365, showcasing her multifaceted expertise within the organization. With a background rooted in education, Lindsay brings a distinctive perspective to the conversation, leveraging her knowledge to shape innovative approaches in the travel industry. Accumulating over two decades of experience, she stands as a seasoned professional with a wealth of insights and understanding in the dynamic realm of travel.
Drawing from her extensive background, Lindsay’s passion shines through in her commitment to transforming the artistry of luxury travel planning. Her unique blend of educational insights and practical experience positions her as a driving force in curating unparalleled travel journeys. Lindsay’s dedication to delivering exceptional experiences resonates in her roles, where she actively contributes to the growth and development of Travel Leaders 365.
In her dual capacity, Lindsay’s enthusiasm for the intricacies of luxury travel planning is evident. Whether spearheading business development strategies or overseeing the nuances of luxury and hosting, Lindsay Taylor Lauer’s impact is felt throughout Travel Leaders 365, marking her as a pivotal figure in the pursuit of excellence within the travel industry.
Lindsay Taylor: We don’t necessarily spend a lot of time or money cultivating what we find to be interesting on our own. We’re pursuing this trip because, oh, this fam came up, oh, here’s this trade show I’m going to go to. Kind of thing. Instead of actually spending the time, and energy and ultimately financial investment in travelling for yourself and going to explore. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years. I’ve just now really started deep diving and appreciating the small luxury hotels. I’d never spent really time looking at each of those individual hotels in that portfolio, and they are fascinating. In order to grasp it, though, you must go do it yourself because you can hear people talk about it constantly. But at the end of the day, who’s going to win four seasons? The Ritz Carlton, the brands that have the big money for marketing, those are the ones that are going to win unless you know better.
Megha McSwain: Welcome to TravelPreneur, the weekly business show for the travel industry. I’m your host, Houston-based travel journalist Megha McSwain. Each episode, we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive as a business owner in the travel industry. From conversations with leading travel business executives and industry-focused venture capitalists to exploring the innovations that are shaping the next generation of travel business, if it impacts the travel industry, we cover it here on TravelPreneur. Hello travel enthusiasts, and welcome back to another exciting episode of TravelPreneur. I’m your host, Megha McSwain. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Lindsey Taylor Lauer, the Director of Business Development and Director of luxury and hosting for Travel Leaders 365. Hello, Lindsey. Welcome to the show.
Lindsay Taylor: Hey there. How are you?
Megha McSwain: Good, good. Thanks for joining us.
Lindsay Taylor: Thank you for having me.
Megha McSwain: Lindsey, your approach to travel is deeply rooted in the transformative power of immersive experiences. How does your background in education influence the way you curate travel journeys? Ensuring that each experience is not only enriching and authentic, but also serves as a catalyst for personal growth and exploration.
Lindsay Taylor: Definitely. I think my time as an educator really taught me that each approach, each individual learner, has to be their own. You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to education, much like there is no one-size-fits-all approach to any given trip. Even, let’s say everybody’s going to the UK every single traveller in that group is going to have a different objective, and they’re going to be touched by different components of each part of that trip. And so I think that what education taught me is just that individualization of making sure that every single traveller is having their needs met as they have it. They’re not going to have to fit into whatever pattern, whatever mould has been created for them. It has to be very individualized.
Megha McSwain: And Travel Leaders 365 has been operating in the industry for over 35 years. How does the company actually create tailored and transformative travel experiences for the client? Like how do you ensure that each journey is different specifically?
Lindsay Taylor: Definitely. We spend a lot of time and energy nurturing relationships not only with the client themselves. That’s something that our advisors are very explicitly taught to do, and they do it very well. But then also on the supplier side, really spending time and investing in time with each supplier, getting to know what they do well, how they do it, really not taking anything for granted. At the end of the day, on a website, any company can look exactly the same as anybody else. But at the end of the day, especially luxury sector, it’s that personal touch that really matters. So we keep a very close eye, a very close experiential time with these suppliers as well, just to make sure that what they are good at is what they’re good at. Different clients are going to be better served by different companies just depending on, again, their objectives, what they’re wanting to do. Some companies handle families really well. Some companies do romance really well. So just really depends on making sure that we’re staying in very close touch with the client so that we know exactly what they want, and then staying in touch with our supplier partners to make sure that we know who to call on for those times.
Megha McSwain: How does Travel Leader 365 go beyond conventional travel services? Is there resources that you guys have, tools that you use that just really help you stray from tradition?
Lindsay Taylor: Yeah, we invest. Heavily in not only the client function, but also in the advisor function for our support methods. So we have a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week desk that operates on holidays. So any of my advisors can utilize that. Clients have full access to that. And it also acts as an emergency services desk. So at no point in time is any Traveler 365 client stranded or abandoned. They literally just call one phone number and then we’re able to solve all their problems. My independent advisors can benefit from that as well, just depending. So we do spend a lot of time and investment on the technology side as well, in addition to the human capital, just really wanting to ensure that there is never a time that a client feels that they are abandoned or stranded. There’s always someone to talk to, there’s always someone to call, and we’re able to remedy it very rapidly. We also invest heavily in our air desk for that exact same reason. The pandemic taught us that travel is not going to get any simpler anytime soon, so we really try to invest in what will help support the travel function for all of our clients going forward.
Megha McSwain: And Travel Leaders 365 is a family-run business. How does the familial approach contribute to building a robust support network for the travelers? I would imagine that kind of adds to the personal connection it’s imbued.
Lindsay Taylor: Absolutely. The Khambata family is the ownership group of Travel Leaders 365, as well as several other travel companies. The focus of the family not to speak for them at all, but it’s definitely to influence that high-quality travel experience across the globe. So from the very start, the way our ethos is embedded in the family’s values, how we approach our clients, how we approach our supplier partners, very high focus on ethics, doing what’s right by whoever needs to be done right. We don’t try to cut corners. We’re very transparent in how we do business on both sides, on the client side, as well as the supplier side. Our ethos is just really embedded throughout, and it creates a that concern, that very genuine concern for the client experience. Because we do treat because we’re a family owned and operated, it’s top down. And so the way that I’m treated by the group that owns my company is the way that I treat our staff. Is the way that we expect our clients to be treated and on down. So it really just embeds throughout everything we do.
Megha McSwain: And as the Director of Business Development, what is your vision for Travel Leaders 365? In the realm of transformative travel experiences, how do you plan to further solidify the company’s position as a pioneer in offering even immersive, unique, life-enriching travel journey?
Lindsay Taylor: I’m really passionate about bucking trends. The artistry of luxury travel planning, I feel has become tainted to a degree, has become diluted from what it had been previously and ultimately what it can be. So for my vision for our company and how we’re continuing to engage in the industry is just to continue to operate differently. For instance, we don’t take freebies unless we’ve delivered an already kind of a thing. So that’s just part of our ethos. That’s part of how we do business because we don’t believe that we’re a retailer. We are in this as a fiduciary. We’re a counsellor consultancy, so we’re in it to help guide those decisions. But ultimately, if we’re making stupid decisions at the top, then that’s going to taint the rest of how things operate. I feel like there are some entities in the industry right now that have cheapened the role of travel advisor. So it’s my passion and the passion of our company, truly, to really redefine what is that travel advisor? What does that look like? Who is this professional? It’s not someone who just takes fam trips all the time and posts on social media. It’s how do we really spend our time and invest our energies and our our money ultimately into becoming that true fiduciary reference source for clients?
Megha McSwain: It’s funny that you say that it’s true. Haven’t we all noticed how this sector has been diluted? Like you said, with so much of that, a free trip here, posting on social media, all of a sudden the word is spread. That’s not enough, I think personally, but it happens a lot.
Lindsay Taylor: Agreed. Yeah, unfortunately, I think.
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Lindsay Taylor: We’re actually very technologically driven. My president is Ian Khambatta and he’s and his father, Sharukh, my CEO, are very passionate about technologies. And so harnessing for instance, artificial intelligence can never replace a travel advisor. However, it can replace some of those time-sucking things that we have to do, like invoice some of the nitpicky operations that we have to sit there and put into a spreadsheet. AI can do that for us. So really investing our time in technologies to determine how can we make it easier because an advisor is time is best spent one one-on-one with the client and then ultimately with the supplier. So whatever time we can take away from whatever else they’re doing, that’s not that interface is very valuable for us as well as spending time. So for instance, we have our own web technology, our travel technology division. It’s its own separate company. Travel technologies are hard to find that are streamlined. So we just create our own. Basically, we’re not having to cobble together multiple different platforms to try and fit into one. We really spend that time and money into investing, into making the one that works. We’ve won a few awards for. It’s called The Atlas is what I call our Advisor Hub.
Lindsay Taylor: So things like that just to really streamline it. Now that’s more streamlining for the advisor side. But what happens when you have an advisor who has so much time and energy then to spend perfecting your trip, reviewing your itinerary, making sure all of those I’s are dotted, all those T’s are crossed, communicating with the supplier then, hey, this is my client. This is what they love. How can you make this extra special? Those conversations are a lot easier to have when you’ve got the technology that’s supporting the actual business function. And then things as far as flight monitoring, just really trying to make it so that clients are not having to be the expert on their own. We don’t want a client to ever have to sort out a situation without the expert guidance of someone from our team who can be like, nope, I see this is a problem. This is how we can fix it. What do you think? And so really trying to invest in those technologies that better allow the flow of communication between the client and the advisor or the client and my air desk, whatever the situation may be, that’s really where we’re spending our time.
Megha McSwain: That’s a huge investment. And I think a very wise one, especially in this day and age. Brilliant. An esteemed figure in the travel industry, what advice would you offer to professionals and entrepreneurs looking to create transformative travel experiences, drawing from your own experience in this industry.
Lindsay Taylor: My biggest word of advice would be break free from what everybody else is doing. If you’re looking at people in the industry, what you see is not necessarily what’s going to be best for you and your business. Be willing to think outside the box. I would definitely encourage you to stop looking at social media so much. It’s not helpful, and it does create that sense of I’m not doing enough when actually you are probably doing just fine, but then also invest in your own travels. I feel like sometimes in our industry we don’t necessarily spend a lot of time or money cultivating our own. What we find to be interesting on our own. We’re pursuing this trip because, oh, this fam came up. Oh, there’s this study tour. Oh, here’s this trade show I’m going to go to kind of thing instead of actually spending the time and energy and ultimately financial investment in travelling for yourself and going to explore something that I’ve recently had my eyes up. I mean, I’ve been in the industry for 20 years. I’ve just now really started deep-diving and appreciating the small luxury hotels they’ve been around for millions of years. That group’s been around forever. I’d never spent really time looking at each of those individual hotels in that portfolio, and they are fascinating. They’re not all five star, some four stars. They’re super cute and cultivated. And so then having that opportunity to really explore the hotel can become an integral component of that itinerary when it’s selected carefully. And so those conversations, in order to grasp it, though, you must go do it yourself, because you can hear people talk about it constantly. But at the end of the day, who’s going to win four seasons? The Ritz Carlton, the brands that have the big money for marketing, those are the ones that are going to win unless you know better. So it’s really not that there’s anything wrong with those two groups, right?
Megha McSwain: Those household names? Sure, we know about them. We’ve heard about them. We know what we’re going to get when you go there. But these other ones that are flying under the radar, some of them are magnificent. Some of them are might be the perfect hotel for a certain kind of person or a person looking for that. And how would they know? They don’t get as much attention as some of these bigger hotel.
Lindsay Taylor: One of my biggest fascinations.
Lindsay Taylor: Recently has been these tiny hotels that have 15, 16, 17 rooms, and they’ve got these amazing, like, I was in Puglia a few weeks ago with one of my advisors, and we were at this hotel called Naturalis, and it was this masseria concept. So like the former farmhouses and whatever, and it was all of 12 rooms, I think. Don’t quote me on that tiny little property, the most incredible experience. And it was just everything was. Top notch. The food was not Michelin star, but it was delicious and just everything about that experience I would not have known about you. Think of Puglia, you think of the big Borgo. You think you don’t necessarily think of these smaller hotels. And so I really think that there’s an opportunity for advisors, especially those who are just now getting started, to really go into it with just a clean slate. Don’t listen to what your host or your consortia have already told you. They have a vested interest in you selling certain things. To be very honest with you, create your own opinions. The thing?
Megha McSwain: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of noise with technology, with social media, with all of that we’re exposed to these days. There’s a lot of noise. So just finding the middle road with all of that.
Lindsay Taylor: And have confidence in it. Come up. Create your own confidence in what you know, what you don’t do, what everybody else is doing just because everybody else is doing it right.
Megha McSwain: And that’s good advice for a lot of things. Well, thank you so much, Lindsay, for sharing your insight. This has been super interesting. I love to hear about Travel Leaders 365 and what you guys are doing. Let our listeners know where they can learn more and where they can reach you.
Lindsay Taylor: Yes. So tl365.com is our website, and I can be reached at email@example.com.
Megha McSwain: Great. Thank you so much for joining us. Super helpful information to our listeners. Please subscribe and follow for future episodes of TravelPreneur and we will see you next time. You’ve been listening to TravelPreneur by travelpayments.com. Make sure to subscribe on your favourite podcast listening platform so you never miss a new episode, and we’ll see you again soon on TravelPreneur.