Turquoise Holidays is a luxury tour operator specialising in delivering to its client’s unique and authentic luxury travel experiences. They are passionate about travel and take great pride in ensuring that all of their clients are matched to the holiday that will perfectly suit their very need and desire.
Today TLE had the pleasure of chatting with Lizzie Heeley, Turquoises Marketing Manager to find out more about the luxury landscape in which both she and the company operates.
Lizzie, great to see you and thanks for taking the time to share your luxury knowledge and experiences with us.
You’ve worked at Turquoise for just over 3 years now and your current role is Marketing Manager, please tell us what attracted you to the luxury travel sector and was this always your dream career path?
When I was younger, I struggled to find a career path which really interested me…so after numerous office jobs and work experience placements failed to inspire me – I decided to go travelling instead! The rest is history and the travel industry seemed the perfect fit for me. I started at Turquoise after leaving university and my first role within the company was looking after our Honeymoon Gift List – a fantastic service available to all our honeymoon clients free of charge. It was a great first step in learning all about our clients, the Turquoise brand and our product – with a strong client contact element that I loved. Over time, I started to take on more responsibility, assisting James Bell our Sales & Marketing Director, and at the same time developing relationships with key partners and suppliers. About a year after I joined, another colleague took on the gift list role and I moved full time into marketing.
You must be proud of achieving the role you currently hold at such a relatively young age. Tell us more about your role and any challenges / advantages your age may bring to the role.
I have been given such a fantastic opportunity at Turquoise and it is a real honour to be the Marketing Manager for such a wonderful brand at such a young age. I often find that I am younger than my contemporaries in the industry, but I really do see this as more of a compliment than a challenge, and has in no way stopped me from implementing our marketing goals and strategy. The great thing about the travel industry is that everyone shares a passion for the world – so whatever your age may be, you have a story to tell! I think the biggest advantage of my generation, is understanding the importance of the online world and the impact of digital marketing and social media in generating and developing business. It is phenomenal how much research people do on the move for a holiday – so we need to ensure that we are providing great, unique and useful information wherever and whenever people may be looking for it!
From an outsiders perspective the general impression of working in the luxury travel sector is one of glitz and glamour. How true is this and what is not so glitzy and glamourous that the general public never see?
There are definitely glamorous parts to working in the luxury travel industry…in terms of a product to promote and sell, talking about the world’s most exotic, unique and stunning destinations every day is no hardship…. and of course the ultimate perk is us being able to experience them first hand too! There are of course unglamorous parts…nothing happens in life without a lot of hard graft behind the scenes… but that is what makes it all the more worthwhile.
You have travelled quite extensively both in a professional and leisure capacity. Please share with us your favourite destination and why it was so special.
Oooh – such a tough question! I have been so fortunate to travel to lots of incredible places, choosing a favourite is virtually impossible as each is so unique. But if I had to choose – I have recently been on a trip to Indonesia with a colleague, and the island of Sumba in the east of the Indonesian archipelago was truly one of the most eye-opening and unique places I have ever been. Land locked in time, tourism is relatively new to the island and there is only one luxury resort – Nihiwatu. The way of life there is almost pre historic; a million miles from the hustle and bustle of everyday life back home. It was so refreshing to be amongst a community where the trials and tribulations of our modern lives, were non existent. Friendship, loyalty and an enthusiasm to learn from each other are just some of the amazing qualities of the Sumbanese. As Nihiwatu say – you really feel ‘at the edge of wilderness’ whilst on the island and I feel very honoured to have had that experience.
Where have you not yet visited that is high on your hit-list and why the desire to visit?
Although this is cheating as I have already been… I would absolutely love to go back to Africa. I spent four months teaching in a rural Ugandan village between school and university and was fortunate to travel through Kenya, Tanzania & Zanzibar afterwards. I would love to go back and explore South Africa as well as some of the more ‘off the beaten track countries’ such as Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique…oh and Madagascar… the list is endless…but these are definitely top on my hit list.
In your personal opinion what are the three absolute essentials to a luxury holiday?
1) Expert advice & First Hand Knowledge – It is so important when booking a luxury holiday that you are fully confident that you have chosen the right destination and itinerary for you. By speaking to a tour operator with first hand knowledge, you can go on holiday knowing that a) you don’t need to worry about a thing as it has been sorted for you and b) you are going somewhere that you have been recommended first hand by an expert. Luxury holidays are not cheap, whatever the scale… so you want to ensure that from the moment you get on the plane, to the moment you get home you can relax – your on holiday. Turquoise pride themselves on the mantra ‘we don’t sell what we haven’t seen’ so you will always be able to speak to one of the team who has experienced the destination, seen the resort, tasted the food…. Lucky us eh!
2) Luxury but not just for luxuries sake – The word ‘luxury’ is actually rather farcical. Luxury is a completely personal opinion and will vary from client to client. Our job is to find the perfect product to suit each need, from style of resort and interior design, to airlines and transfers, experiences and activities, restaurant and bar recommendations. You also need to make sure that you a comfortable with what you are booking in terms of cost. Whatever your budget, if you push the boat out too far initially to book the flights and the hotel it will be less enjoyable whilst you are away (unless of course everything is included!). We are big believers in choosing the best room in a slightly more affordable hotel, than the worst room in an extremely expensive one…
3) WOW factor – Even if you are a seasoned traveller and spend a lot of time abroad, if you are going on a luxury holiday and travelling with an esteemed tour operator, there should be an element of the wow factor. This could be anything from added touches received from your consultant/travel company to special details and touches you receive at the hotel – it is these things that you will remember the most.
Turquoise Holidays specialises in long-haul destinations. Please share with our readers your top tips to making a long-haul flight as enjoyable as possible.
Unfortunately one thing we cannot change about long haul travel – is the flight time! However, there are a number of things to make long flights much more enjoyable and indeed all part of the adventure. Firstly if you are travelling in economy, I would really advise looking into airport lounge options for your outbound flights. We work with a company called No.1 Traveller which has lounges all over the UK. They are fantastic value for money and a really wonderful way to start your holiday in stress free style!
Secondly, make sure that you have checked in online before you leave, and spoken to your consultant about booking seats. Some airlines charge to pre book seats, and annoying as it is – I really do recommend considering biting the bullet and reserving them early. Especially if you are travelling for an occasion or with your family – it really isn’t worth the stress when you get to the airport if you find out you can’t sit together on a long haul flight!
In terms of what to take and on board tips – most airlines we work with have fabulous entertainment systems and meal options to keep you (and your children if you are travelling as a family) occupied. Etihad even has online nanny services! A top tip is to always tell your consultant well in advance of any special requests, extra leg room, children meals etc so they can get it all sorted and confirmed for you before departure. Finally – always consider an upgrade! There are so many fantastic up-grade offers out there; it is always worth asking for a quote to upgrade to a premium cabin…. even just for one leg of your flight to make your holiday that bit more special!
Turquoise tailor luxury holidays to a variety of client types; ranging from honeymooners and active adventurers through to families and celebratory holidays. How do you and the Turquoise team approach each request and are there any client groups that are more difficult to deliver to than others?
Each and every enquiry we receive at Turquoise is different. Our sales manager is responsible for choosing the perfect consultant to contact each client, based on personal knowledge and experience. For example, we know that our resident Turquoise mummies are best to deal with family enquiries as they have first hand knowledge of what it is like to travel with children and the cherry pick the information that our clients are likely to need. Each consultant specialises in a variety of destinations and if more than one destination is of interest, we will ensure they speak to the right person to give them the breadth of knowledge they need. We have fantastic relationships with all our partners throughout the world, so whatever the occasion, we know that our clients will be looked after…in true Turquoise style!
Finally, what are your predictions for luxury holiday trends in the next few years?
I think people are getting a lot more adventurous with long haul travel and we are definitely seeing an increase on more tailor made, multi centre trips to destinations that have been considered ‘off the beaten track’ in previous years. We absolutely love combining destinations, some of our favourites that we have seen on the rise including Thailand and the Maldives, Mauritius and Reunion, South Africa and Mozambique, India and Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia, New Zealand and Fiji – the list is endless…and long may it continue! On the technology side of things, as I mentioned earlier the online world of travel is expanding at a scary rate, and I am very excited to say that we are working on a new website which will be fully mobile enabled and compatible. However, I still very much believe that on top of all the information you can read online… speaking to someone is absolutely vital. Our beach house inspired shop on the Northcote Road in London, provides clients with somewhere to come in for a relaxed glass of wine, beer or coffee (depending on the time of day!) and discuss their holiday plans face to face. The ultimate opportunity to get the maps out on the table, flick through the brochures and gain a true understand of the Turquoise adventure you are soon to embark.