Interview

Gemma Antrobus: People bring people

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April 20, 2020

Haslemere Travel creates bespoke, tailor-made holidays that draw on years of expertise and knowledge; assuring each client of an outstanding, individual, experience.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born into a family of travel professionals, so I spent much of my youth travelling to all corners of the globe.  My passion for travel certainly came from experiencing some amazing destinations at a very early age and knowing that there were even more that I wanted to see.

My initial career choice was operationally in luxury hotels and, following my degree from hotel school, I worked in Hotel Management in East Africa and the Caribbean.  

A series of events brought me back to the UK where I moved into Hotel and Event Sales, Marketing and PR, before combining all my skills into something I love even more – travel designing. I joined Haslemere Travel in 2008 as Managing Director and completed an MBO in 2016.  

I now head up the most fabulous team of travel designers based in our Haslemere office, as well as our home-working division of Elite Travel Consultants.

Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Peru

Tell us a bit about your company

Haslemere Travel was established some 32 years ago in 1988 and has always been a leader in the world of luxury, tailor-made travel.

The business is family owned and run and has won many awards over the years.  

The main retail office is based in the affluent Surrey suburb of Haslemere, but additionally we have a division of home-working Elite Travel consultants based across the UK.

Describe a typical working day for you

As well as dealing with a handful of our top clients, I’m also involved with much of the actual running of the business.  

A typical day can be anything from meeting clients and discussing luxury itineraries to planning client events, overseeing our marketing or days’ worth of figures and spreadsheets. It’s not all glamour.

Praslin, Seychelles

How have you adapted your offering to suit changing demands?

Having been in business for 32 years, we have a lot of knowledge, both of destinations and of the best suppliers to work with.  

We listen to our clients to see what they want, then ensure that we are working with the right people and getting out to those destinations so we can give our clients first-hand knowledge.  

What does luxury mean to you these days? Has this changed?

To me, luxury is about time. Time to connect with friends and family, time to get away from daily life, time to explore, time to learn something new, time to escape.

How has technology changed your business?

It’s so much easier to work remotely and from wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection.  All our systems are cloud-based.  

The downside, however, is knowing when to shut off, because it’s so easy to be connected.

Tour de la Parata, Corsica

What has luxury travel taught you?

That just when you think you've seen it all, you will be introduced to a new product that makes you say 'wow'.

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

What excites you about the travel industry?

There’s always something new to learn.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

My expectations are exceptionally high, but equally, I'm a reasonable person.  

Look after me and my clients and you will have my loyalty.

What do you value most when you travel?

A proper hair dryer. I've been known to rate hotels based on just this element.

Chế Cu Nha, Vietnam

How do you make sustainable choices in your work/life?

We have no single-use plastic in our business.  Our merchandise is all eco-friendly, recyclable or made from recycled materials.  We partake in a brochure recycling scheme as well as a plastic wrap recycling scheme.  

Our town has an initiative called 'Love Haslemere, Hate Waste' and we participate in all their activities.  

We also provide clients with information on how to travel more sustainably, if they wish to know.

What is your most unique offering?

Our people. In this day and age, there really isn’t a need to use a travel designer, because so much information is freely available to the travelling consumer.  

The key, however, is to make yourself indispensable to your client, so they would never dream of booking any element of travel without you.

This all comes down to our people and the relationships we build with both our clients and suppliers. People bring people.

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