Liam Wholey and Jeremy Sutton talk to Arabian Travel News about why they left Quintessentially to launch super-luxe travel agency Travel Attaché.
A survey released earlier this year at Arabian Travel Market revealed Gulf nationals to be some of the highest spenders in the world on travel, splashing 260% more on airfares and 430% more on hotels than the global average. According to the survey, Emiratis spend $3,280 a day, Saudis average $3,360 per day, while Qataris splash a jaw-dropping $4,100 per day on holiday.
But while the global recession doesn’t appear to have made much of a dent in the appetite for luxury travel in this region, perhaps what’s more striking is the lack of any real luxury travel company to cater to this to high-spending niche.
On a mission to fill that gap in the market is Travel Attaché which launched last month in Dubai. The brand new venture certainly has some impressive credentials behind it. Headed by Liam Wholey and Jeremy Sutton— both formerly with luxury concierge services firm, Quintessentially; Travel Attaché is backed by local partner Mishal Kanoo, deputy chairman of the Kanoo Group, one of the largest family-owned companies in the Middle East, and Gaurav Sinha, managing director of luxury branding and marketing agency Insignia.
Wholey tells us that the idea to start a luxury travel company came about just a few months ago; but has snowballed since then.
“I left Quintessentially just before the summer; and the idea came about because one of my colleagues Jeremy Sutton and I were discussing putting together a travel company. The first person we spoke to was Gaurav Sinha who runs Insignia. He’s an extremely intelligent entrepreneur.
His company does the marketing for major hotel brands such as Jumeirah Group, Anantara; Kempinski; Fairmont as well as branding for Dubai Tourism. Immediately he said he wanted to be involved.”
Wholey and Sutton then took the idea to Mishal Kanoo. “Kanoo Travel does an incredibly good job at high volume business travel,” explains Wholey. “They’ve got offices across the region; and while they do handle leisure travel to a degree Mishal has wanted for a while to hit that ‘top end’ of the pyramid.
“While Mishal deals with hundreds of corporate clients where he was lacking was in the high-end leisure sector. The reason he didn’t approach it before was that felt he didn’t have the skillset in his business so when we came to him, it was serendipitous and immediately he said —I’m in!”
As a result, just a matter of months from conception, the four had agreed the joint-venture, with a “comfortable seven-figure sum” investment and got the ball rolling on the business.
“We have really good funding. We’ve got exactly the right amount of money that we asked for to do all the things we need to do, and we believe we will break even by month14 — which is quite punchy,” says Wholey.
Article continues on next page ...