You originally started as a travel publishing house, what was behind the move to make Nota Bene into an exclusive – members travel club?
We built up an impressive A-B international database with several subscribers asking if we would curate their travels because their agents never understood it as we wrote it. It made sense to take care of a limited number of private clients, to really get to know them and deliver a superior service under annual fee – paying membership.
What interested you in focusing on the travel sector?
I have always been passionate about travel and rarely found anyone who understood what I was looking for or identified luxury in the way I see it.
How were the demands of clients different then?
It was more tried and tested, conventional high-end travel based on loyalty to brands, for example, the large top hotel groups and there was more in way of pure leisure travel.
There seems to have been a distinct shift in the demands of the super wealthy from grand super statements of luxury to personal, unique, one off experiences. Why do you think this shift has occurred and why do you think ‘storytelling’ has become of paramount importance?
Because the landscape of luxury is less about the acquisition of material status and more about experiences. We are seeing a more educated clientele who are inquisitive, like to be challenged, and who travel for wellbeing, or for interests such as art, or anthropology They want to be educated, and for their families to be educated, and not to just lie on a beach. And there are bragging rights, for example “we were on a yacht through Antarctica with an expedition team and two helicopters …”
This does not mean the demise of the beach holiday – it is more about mixing it up by having extraordinary experiences in regions such as Botswana, Chile, Iceland, Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Bhutan, as well as enjoying time at the world’s most fabulous hotels and private villas in conventional jet-set destinations like St Barths, the Greek islands and St Tropez etc.
Who is your ‘typical’ super wealthy client?
American or German-speaking European, either in finance or a captain of industry, exceedingly involved with their work, with little time to plan, who loves being inspired, and doesn’t mind expense but still expects value.
What are some of the most popular destinations you work with? How have the geographics changed over the years?
Capri, Paris, Amalfi Coast, Ibiza, Seychelles, Africa, Brazil, Chile & Argentina, Australasia.
Destinations have expanded as new areas have opened up to luxury tourism, for example with the opening of new luxury lodges in Iceland, Norway, Rwanda, Belize, Sumba among others.
Roughly how many clients do you have and how many projects are you working on at any one time?
We manage 80 private UHNW clients and will expand to 150, we’re planning to open an office in the US next year because we have such a large following there. We could be working on 20 clients at any one time
How did you go about forming inroads into unique places / experiences /dreams which suit your client demand?
Through many years of research, travel, trialling, cultivating top contacts, and seeing everything through discerning eyes
Do you have to work alongside experts from other fields when working with these elite clients?
Yes, most of the time especially for Asia, Africa, South America. I am fortunate in that my eldest daughter, a consultant for Nota Bene, has her own specialist company – Another Africa – and is an expert on unique upscale experiences in Africa using the finest lodges and private houses and offering thought provoking experience of Africa’s culture.
The rest of this editorial will be published at a later date.