Serandipians focused on ‘small, beautiful, likeminded’ agencies

LATTE chats exclusively with Quentin Desurmont, President of Serandipians

Serandipians, the luxury global community of travel designers, is encroaching on its agency membership capacity with Founder and President Quentin Desurmont saying the strategy to cap numbers at 600 is vital to remain “small and beautiful.”

Speaking exclusively with LATTE on the sidelines of this week’s Essence of Luxury Conference hosted for the final time in Marbella in Spain, Desurmont said Serandipians is the “most international network” of the major luxury travel consortia in the world.

“We are the only non-American network,” he said. “We may be small but are far-reaching with members in 74 countries.”

With current agency members sitting at about 577, Serandipians is only looking at a couple of dozen more shy of its target that Desurmont had ambitions to reach since establishing the group 11 years ago.

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Serandipians agency membership comprises 222 in Europe, 102 in North America, 46 in South America, 63 in Asia Pacific, 57 in Northern Asia, 46 in Greater China and 34 in the Middle East and Asia. In Australia, there are nine agencies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“Suddenly we’re seeing more and more new members coming to Serandipians from other consortia. People leaving who have more flair like we have, are more adventurous, want more discoveries, are small and beautiful likeminded.”

“They want something more niche and with good values, rather than scale.”

A packed auditorium for the 2024 Essence of Luxury Conference

“Nearly 600 agencies with a nice balance. Obviously, America is hard to get in as it is already pre-empted by several bigger players,” he said. “But Serandipians has managed to sign 100 agencies in North America, and those agencies are usually like us – small and beautiful and like-minded”

“US travellers spend more, they book further in advance and they are big tippers. They’re amazing,” he said.

Quizzed about the Australian market and agency growth opportunities, Desurmont said: “We have a few loyal agencies in Australia.

“I am confident we will crack that market at some point.”

Explaining the rationale behind the capped number of agencies, Desurmont said: “It’s very important that we maintain very precise positioning. That is why ‘Essence’ [The Essence of Luxury Travel conference] will position itself in three separate destinations in 2025.”

“We have to be close to where our agency and partners are located,” he said.

Quentin Desurmont, President, Serandipians

Until now, past editions of Serandipians’ annual conference have been held in Montreux, Switzerland and Deauville, France (both two years), before outgrowing those locations and relocating to Marbella, Spain for the past four years.

Desurmont told LATTE the move to regionalise the ‘Essence’ events in 2025 to Phuket, Panama City and Sardinia isn’t for the short term either. He foresees those destinations as new anchor points in Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe for future years to come. “Maybe five, maybe seven years,” he suggested.

“It’s a key moment in our history,” he said.

“I have a very clear hypothesis for how we’re going to do it,” Desurmont said of how the program will operate at the future shows in Thailand Panama and Italy, without disclosing his vision for the future. He will await member feedback on the decision to divide and conquer over the coming months.

In 2023, Serandipians revenue growth surpassed it’s 2019 result by 8% in total volume of sales.

“These are beautiful years. I’m very confident for the future, taking into account any geopolitical impact. Luxury hotels, big hotels, lodges are growing like mushrooms. There is so much money in the world. Look at the stock markets. Crisis? What? It’s record after record after record.”

Serandipians' Quentin Desurmont, President and Diana Nuber, Director of Partnerships and Media Relations

On the supplier front, he said Serandipians is studying the cruise market and mapping out a plan. Currently, Serandipians offers voyages through a number of partners including Silversea, Heritage Line, Albatros Expeditions, Riverside Cruises, Delfin, Oberoi and other small players. The product the consortia focuses on is generally capped at around 100 cabins per ship. One of the latest partners is Explora Journeys.

Questioned about the potential of taking the Serandipians brand direct to the consumer, Desurmont said: “We’ll always be B2B2C. There is no vision to ever go down the direct-to-consumer path.”

“B2C is not for me. We won’t get into that space,” Desurmont said, adding that a consortia going down the path of B2C is a “conflict of interest”.

LATTE is the exclusive Asia Pacific media partner for Serandipians’ Essence of Luxury Travel 2024.

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