Helen George, Honeymoon Tailor at The Honeymoon Boutique, chats with LATTE about the most romantic holidays of all, balancing the needs of clients and an interesting Vietnamese coffee.
- Tell us about The Honeymoon Boutique. When did you realise there was a need for a honeymoon travel specialist?
The Honeymoon Boutique was created through listening to the needs of Australian honeymooners. As a travelling nation our sense of travel spirit is born from a young age, so hence the Honeymoon is seen as a sacred, revered journey as husband and wife.
- What comes first; the individual or the couple? How do you balance the travel aspirations of both?
Each couple’s relationship is based on different foundations. The honeymoon is an extension of both parties’ expectations and the process takes on a life of its own. We have come to the respectful conclusion that the honeymoon is a living, breathing tangible experience and the word honeymoon conjures magical elements in our clients’ minds even prior to them meeting their life partners.
- How did you build a profile of your clients in order to realise their ultimate honeymoon? What indicators are you looking for?
The spoken word is the most powerful customer research, which is based on each honeymooner’s needs and expectations. The attributing factors that shape a perfect honeymoon is a ratio of time, expectations and the comfortable amount that is to be allocated towards the magical journey.
- In a world of online DIY, what do you do better than anyone else?
Through the advent of the travel experience being available online over the last decade, we are now dealing with a more informed and educated traveller. The word ‘transparency’ would best describe the evolution of our travel profession and the expectations of our honeymooners.
It is a parallel journey we walk together from the first phone call. We believe we listen perhaps a little more attentively, and catch the key words that our clients are wanting to come to life.
- How have you seen the luxury travel industry change?
Social media is our best advocate for reflecting aspiration lifestyles. It is a mirror we all look into and want to replicate in our lives. Mark Bouris [Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road] has just released a survey based on 6500 Aussie’s hopes and dreams and he concluded that lifestyle dreams topped the list for 24% of respondents, with property second on the list at 23%.
- What emerging honeymoon travel trends (destinations and type of travel) are you noticing in 2015/16?
Every year we are blessed to meet our hoteliers from all around the world. We have a giggle in the office as we discuss each year’s ‘catchcry’. In previous years the thread count on the sheets was important, other years the products used in the spa or the celebrated Michelin-star chefs had weight.
This year, as clients are wishing to move away from their daily reliance on telecommunications, they are searching for more tactile experiences. They are thrilled to be foraging through the hotel’s garden with the head chef, collecting their salad and herbs to enjoy with their lunch.
As far as culinary experiences go, no matter where our honeymooners are destined to travel, there is now more discussion surrounding this subject. Emirates has just created its fourth gateway into Bologna, Italy, the entrance to Italy’s culinary scene.
- What are the greatest lengths you have gone to for a client?
The greatest lengths we have gone to for our clients is to still be viable and sustainable in this new age of information and social travel awareness. Travel is the most instant and gratifying experience shared and wanting to be retold by everyone. Our ability to stay focused, fresh and relevant with all the emerging destinations and hotels is a testament to our calling.
- If you could send a client anywhere, where would it be?
Creating a honeymoon is a delicate tapestry of our clients wishes and our many years of travel experience. We are living in an information- and sensory-overloaded world, so a perfect destination for our client is one where they can remove themselves from their daily habits and rituals and forget their passwords and pins numbers. And, to be able to look up uninterrupted at the stars in the night sky, holding the hand of their beloved.
- What’s the quirkiest request you’ve had to accommodate?
Each and every honeymoon we tailor make is different and we remember each one fondly for different reasons. The one that Denny [Helen’s husband and fellow Honeymoon Tailor] retells very proudly is when he organised a honeymoon to America.
The groom wanted to sail on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line which was hosting heavy metal bands for a week, while the bride decided to visit her family in the UK and allow the groom his own ‘head space’ for a week.
Denny organised their flights to meet at the same moment of disembarkation at adjacent terminals, allowing them to resume their USA honeymoon hand in hand into the sunset.
- Best coffee you’ve ever had?
The traditional coffee in Vietnam goes through an interesting journey through the digestive tracts of small creatures. The experience still resonates with me today; I can still remember the bold, dark, strong, aromatic flavours of a good cup of coffee.
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