Location: London, England
In one line, what makes you a PUREist?
A constant desire to travel, explore and learn, and to enable my clients to fulfil their own travel aspirations… And create new ones, of course.
Tell us your story – how did you get where you are today?
At the age of 23 I decided that a career in banking was not for me, so I packed my bags and set off for the Middle East to become a flight attendant. At this point I told everyone I would only be gone for six months… 13 years later I returned to the UK having lived and worked in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as crew on both commercial and private jets. The experience was eye opening and I knew quickly that travel would play a huge part in my life.
Once back in the UK I continued to work on private jets, then moved on to VIP care in hotels, all the while travelling in my free time. I also lived in and travelled around Argentina for six months, so it often feels that everything I have ever done lead me to where I am now.
The incredible support from my clients, friends and family, and a number of wonderful people in the travel industry encouraged me to start out on my own as a Private Travel Designer and to share my passion. I am grateful to each of them, and I have never looked back.
Can you share with us your single most life-enriching experience?
The pivotal moment was moving to the Middle East and leaving behind what many people aspire to – i.e. secure job, mortgage, car, dog, etc. – to follow my heart and find my own way in the world.
“At its best, [travel] touches something deep inside and it changes you forever.”
Argentina was also very important. I went alone and knew noone. I learnt that I am stronger than I think, that I value my independence and freedom of choice, and that people will always accept you if you accept them. As a single woman traveller I was overwhelmed by people’s kindness and hospitality.
Sorry! But they are both key moments for me.
What does the term ‘experiential travel’ mean to you?
Experiential travel changes people’s lives – it is about really being part of the wider world, learning, understanding and experiencing other cultures, and about opening one’s eyes to different perspectives. At its best, it touches something deep inside and it changes you forever.
Describe your ideal client: how do they approach travel?
My ideal client has a sense of curiosity and a desire to explore and try new things. Sometimes they push their own boundaries, other times they need a little coaxing. They trust that my suggestions are made from a firm knowledge of their likes, dislikes and interests. They have the spending power to travel in a way that makes them comfortable and that gives them access to an incredible array of experiences.
Some of my current clients send me photos when they are away, I love that they share their excitement with me and that they are bursting to tell me all about it when they get home.
What made you decide to join PURE Life Experiences and how has doing so benefitted your business?
I was invited to attend PURE not long after I set up on my own. To be honest, I had “be invited to PURE” as a goal to achieve in my first two years in business – you are a discerning lot and I never dreamt it would happen so fast! This is a testament to my wonderful travel industry supporters that I mentioned earlier.
“I see the PURE stamp as a badge of honour, if someone has it, you know what they stand for: quality and greatness.”
PURE has benefitted my business in that I have learnt about so many incredible experiences to offer clients. I have met some inspirational people and I know exactly who to call when I want to organise something “wow” for my clients.
What role do you think PURE has to play in the high-end experiential travel industry?
I see the PURE stamp as a badge of honour, if someone has it, you know what they stand for: quality and greatness. The selection process means that you know everyone exhibiting is worth seeing, it is a shame that you never get to see them all!
It is also the one show not to be missed. Miss PURE, miss out!
What other brands and companies in high-end experiential travel do you admire the most?
There are so many, but my top three would be Exclusively New Zealand, Imperial Tours and Matueté. They are all outstanding and passionate, and they have all left my clients speechless at various points in their trips. Listening to these clients tell me about their experiences made me as happy as if I experienced the trip myself. They are true PUREists and I am proud to work with them.
If there were one thing you could change about the travel industry, what would it be?
To really encourage people to travel responsibly and to support the local economies. I like to think that if everyone does a little, together we can achieve a lot.
Finally, who is your experiential hero?
Gertrude Bell and Freya Stark.
Both were strong women who travelled all over the world, most extensively in the Middle East, and at a time when it was rare to do so. They were great linguists, and that helped them to be accepted wherever they went, which in many cases were, places never before visited by a Westerner. Incredibly, Freya only started learning Russian in her sixties, and continued to travel well into her eighties – now that is something I aspire to!
“I like to think that if everyone does a little, together we can achieve a lot.”
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