“Traveling Beautifully”: Luxury travelers are now finding unique experiences in custom packages that include private air travel
Several recent surveys on luxury travel showed similar results for U.S. travelers. A survey by American Express found that high-end travelers increasingly prefer to book an entire package, including air, rather than string together different components, even if there are price differences.
A second survey, by Virtuoso, confirmed that luxury travel bookings were up in 2014, indicating that this segment of the travel market is healthy. Most respondents said they prefer to work with a specialized travel agency that arranges once-in-a-lifetime experiences, rather than navigating through an “overwhelming” number of travel options on the Internet.
These surveys validate what XOJet has seen among its clients this year, says Shari Jones, chief marketing officer. “Many of our clients are looking for unique, exclusive experiences that they can’t find anywhere else,” she says. “We endeavor to find these through our partnerships with some of the most bespoke travel agencies and resorts in the U.S. Of course, we handle the accommodations for air travel.”
XOJet is the third-largest business-aviation firm in the United States, with a fleet of 42 Citation X and Challenger 300 super-midsize business jets. The San Francisco–based firm, known for its cost-efficient charter programs, has multiple Fortune 500 companies and name-brand Silicon Valley tech firms on its client roster. Jones says many clients mix corporate and family travel, thanks to the flexible terms of XOJet’s Preferred Access and Elite Access programs.
In order to accommodate clients who want more than business-jet access, XOJet has partnered with upscale agencies like Butterfield & Robinson to provide bespoke experiences for their clients. The Yellowstone Club, a five-star resort in Montana, is another partner, delivering an unparalleled Rockies lifestyle. Element Lifestyle, a third XOJet partner, is a Los Angeles–based agency that opens doors to many exclusive events and establishments, like Manhattan’s hottest new restaurants or blockbuster film premieres.
“We use the phrase ‘traveling beautifully’ to describe what we and our partners can offer clients,” says Jones. “Many tell us that these are some of the most memorable trips they’ve ever taken.”
Butterfield & Robinson, for instance, offers an exclusive visit inside the Masters Tournament in Augusta, with an intimate view of golf’s premier event. “With a VIP escort at the final day of the tournament, you’ll see one of the sporting world’s most hallowed events in a way that few do,” says Jones. “This kind of detailed view, as on any B&R trip, has a way of shifting one’s perspective so that you feel like an insider.”
Butterfield & Robinson also arranges unique accommodations. For the Masters Experience, the James Madison Inn, boasting some of the South’s most beautiful architecture and artwork, is a perfect complement to the trip. For the vineyard tour of Beaune in the Burgundy region, guests stay at the Bastion Ste. Anne, a historic Butterfield property dating to 1637. The French experience brings guests into the heart of Burgundy’s wineries. The five days include a private dinner in the walled gardens of Bastion Ste. Anne catered by a local chef, private tours of some of the Côte d’Or’s most famous vineyards, and a tasting of the region’s wines with the winemaker Jane Eyre-Renard.
“We’ve assisted in setting up these very well-thought-out trips to Europe, Belize, Costa Rica, and many U.S. destinations,” says Jones. “Because we handle the air travel, it’s a seamless, stress-free journey. Our clients appreciate the details that make these trips so special, and execution is typically flawless.”
XOJET, 650.676.4700, www.xojet.com