Well, as another financial year comes to a close, and I gather up my faded receipts (I know, I really need to get with technology), I want to thank you for once again being a part of my journey, and allowing me to be a part of yours.
As an independent travel ‘stylist’, I don’t take your support for granted. I know that when it comes to booking travel, you have a plethora of choice, so I am honoured that you have chosen me to work with you to make your travel dreams a possibility.
Now, what’s business and pursuing your passion without change? It’s time for a shakeup.
You may have started to notice that some of my personal business branding has switched from Riche Travel to Smartflyer Australia, and I’m about to explain what that change is all about….and it’s exciting!
Back to the beginning ……
As you may have known, I’ve come from a lengthy career in travel, beginning at Australia’s largest travel company (almost 15yrs ago to the day), as a consultant, manager and industry mentor.
Here I was presented with some wonderful opportunities and I gained invaluable experience as both a consultant and as a leader, but after years of putting in the hard yards, the passion for why I did what I did was fading. It was time to make a break.
So, I did what most young Aussies did. I packed up and travelled the world for a couple of years, and upon returning, I realised that what I’d wanted from life and my career had changed. I wanted to get back to basics and back to the reason i got into travel in the first place….To plan exceptional travel journeys, for clients that I loved!
It was at this time that I moved across to boutique travel agency ‘Fair Flights’, located on the South Coast of NSW.
With Fair Flights I reignited my love for personal travel planning, and revelled in the opportunity to work closely with my clients and truly tailor their requirements, with a service standard that I would expect from a travel professional.
It was also here that my affinity with luxury and experiential travel began to grow.
Before then it was all about cookie cutter holiday packages, stock standard group tours and the same destinations over and over and over again. I swear if I heard ‘What’s your cheapest flight to the Gold Coast’ one more time, I would have screamed!
I was also exposed to some fantastic opportunities to travel with Fair Flights and represent our then hotel collection ‘Riche Luxury Travel’ at global travel trade shows.
These were travel shows that would allow me to meet the best in the luxury travel industry, learn about the hottest hotels & the latest luxury travel products globally, and meet some of the most influential people in the industry.
So while I still had all of the airfare knowledge, and destination knowledge that I’d gained in my 8 years at (insert the name Australia’s largest travel company here), the world had opened up even more and I was loving it!!!
My next move was to prove that I could make it on my own.
I’d built a fantastic client base, with some very loyal repeat clients, and with their support and referrals, I decided that I no longer wanted to be limited to a 9-5pm office.
It was the new era of digital nomads after all, and who wants to be chained to a desk?
I wanted to café hop and use their WiFi. I wanted to visit my clients in the comfort of THEIR homes, and plan their travels over a pot of tea. I wanted to be able to be poolside in Bali, yet still in touch with my clients, working, earning money AND getting a tan.
It could be possible, couldn’t it?
To my delight, it IS possible!
Introducing Riche Travel. The next stepping stone to my career progression and finding that perfect balance between work & lifestyle.
Riche Travel (part of the same travel family as Fair Flights) had morphed from a wholesale luxury hotel collection, to also hosting a number of Independent travel ‘stylists’.
These were agents whom had their own VIP client’s, and worked from home (or wherever in the world they were) and managed their time between home, work and lifestyle.
Riche Travel was the technology platform that I needed to run my business, and as a luxury hotels collection at the time, I was able to further my education on global luxury travel brands, and continue to work with the best in the industry.
Hello SmartFlyer !!
It was through these networking opportunities that I first discovered SmartFlyer. An American based Travel Company, specialising in high end corporate and leisure travel, with a host of independent agents worldwide.
SmartFlyer seemed to have a very similar outlook to our own company ‘Riche Travel’.
They were a network of influencers and travel addicts around the USA, passionate about exceptional travel experiences, and knowing that providing the best possible experience for our clients, is all about relationships.
They were also socially savvy on sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and their Independent agents would capture insights into every hotel and resort that they visited, though blog posts and web blasts.
I had to be a part of it… and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Smartflyer had already announced a joint venture with the Goldman Travel Group (another Travel Industry big gun) to launch SmartFlyer Australia, but it was after the meeting of minds occurred between Michael Holtz (SmartFlyer’s founder), Erina Pinda (SmartFlyer’s Managing Director), the Goldman’s (David and Anthony), and then finally Eliza Woodward, Brent Wallace & Stuart Reay (Riche Travel’s directors), that a plan was put in place for Riche Travel to merge with Smartflyer and the Goldman Group, to truly get SmartFlyer Australia off the ground, in a big way.
And here we are today!
SmartFlyer Australia was officially re-launched on the 1st of March 2016, and while the have had a few crazy months setting up the business, we are all now set to see SmartFlyer Australia truly become a force to be reckoned with, in the Australian and global travel network.
New opportunities …. Being a SMARTIE!
This is where things truly get interesting, as in addition to continuing my role in operations with SmartFlyer Australia, the new financial year will also see me host my personal travel company ‘Kate, Travel Stylist’ through SmartFlyer Australia, and I couldn’t be more excited.
While the day to day operation of my business will remain unchanged, I will now be immersed with the best independent travel consultants in the biz, and the opportunities to learn and grow from them are huge!
They say ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room’, and I couldn’t agree more. To step out of my comfort zone and surround myself with other industry high flyers, whom I can learn from is one of the most exciting parts of this launch, and I know that I will continue to be educated and inspired by this dynamic industry for a long time yet.
But what’s in it for you?
Being a ‘Smartie’ is going to provide me with worldwide affiliations that will see you gain access to exclusive rates, amenities, upgrades and perks that comes when booking with me…. Your personal travel stylist.
From Honeymoon’s to experiential voyages to Antarctica, your families next ski trip or your favourite city break, I now have access to some of the best product out there, which I’m excited to share with you.
Smartflyer is a member of the Virtuoso network, which is an elite, invitation-only consortium of the top 1% of travel providers in the world. Through Virtuoso we are able to negotiate the best rates, get access to sold-out situations and provide you (our clients) with exclusive extra amenities at over 875 hotels and resorts worldwide.
Our bookings get noticed and prioritised by hoteliers due to the relationships that we have built.
SmartFlyer are also recognized as a preferred partner of the most notable and highly regarded hotel brands in the world. These ‘By invitation only’ elite programs were created to recognise and differentiate top-tier travel producers.
These programs include: Belmond Bellini Club, Couture by Langham, Dorchester Collection’s Diamond Club, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Shangri-La Hotels Gold Circle and Starwood Luxury Privileges… Just to name a few!
Our relationships allow us to provide priority waitlist, upgrades and exclusive amenities that simply aren’t available anywhere else. Our personal relationships will give you an edge and can take you further than the internet or any prestigious credit card.
‘But, I don’t travel high-end! What’s in it for me?’
Don’t worry, you’re still in for a treat!
For some of my most loyal clients, I understand that not everything you do in travel is high end, and that’s absolutely fine. I am still able to arrange the same things I’ve always done, and my shifting focus to luxury travel is only going to benefit you as well.
How lovely would it be to receive those beautiful welcome amenities at your favourite Fiji resort, or that little B&B in Cornwall that you often visit?
The SmartFlyer name reaches far and wide, and for me, giving you the opportunity to experience a little bit of luxury, at a fabulous rate is also something that I am passionate about.
With SmartFlyer I am not only surrounded by the best in the business, but I am one of the best in the business, and together we can create travel experiences that will stay with you, long after you’ve returned home…..For all of the right reasons.
Thanks again for all of your support (and staying with me through until the end of that post). If you want to check out more about SmartFlyer, check out the site: SmartFlyer
Otherwise, stay tuned for my weekly updates on what’s hot in the world of travel, and some of the exclusive offers and experiences that I will be able to pass on to you, your family and your friends (so spread the word!)
Lots of love, Kate xxx