Adam Schwab is the co-founder and CEO of Lux Group and the owner of online travel business Luxury Escapes. The company has seen sizeable growth in the travel retail sector over the past three years, which Schwab attributes to its outstanding customer service. Watch VIDEO.
Lux Group recently won the title of Top E-Commerce Group in Australia at the 2017 All Star Bash. The Group has fifteen businesses under its umbrella, including: Luxury Escapes, The Home, Brands Exclusive, Living Social, Cudo, DEALS.com.au, The Gourmet, The Active, Lust Have It!, DailyDo, Pop, Spreets, PinchMe and Ouffer.
The biggest of these brands is Luxury Escapes, which was founded three years ago and has grown to become Australia’s fastest growing online travel companies today, operating in New Zealand as well.
Luxury Escapes just reached its one millionth member mark, all of whom receive a daily email from the travel website. The online travel business currently boasts more than 600,000 engaged Facebook fans, and last year more than 250,000 Australians took a Luxury Escapes holiday; the company’s success is reflected in its 198 per cent year-on-year growth rate.
Over 2016 Luxury Escapes has invested heavily in advertising and servicing its customers with curated experiences, launching a quarterly print publication, Travel Post, and late last year it dived into its own TV show which airs weekly on Network Seven. Luxury Escapes also launched a mobile app in 2016, a tours business, and now has a European office established as it looks towards global growth.
The company has also been listed as one of the biggest advertisers in the local travel sector, eclipsing the likes of more established brands like Qantas.
I sat down with Adam Schwab to find out what he attributes to Luxury Escapes’ sustained success thus far. The motivated CEO says he has a vision for it to become the dominant Pan-Asian travel business, in terms of fantastic curated experiences. In the meantime, he says the company’s sustained growth over a short period can be credited to four key elements:
What is Luxury escapes doing right?
“We learnt a lot through our local businesses on how to treat customers. At Luxury Escapes we are essentially in a curated marketplace, so we need to ensure essentially that the customer experience is a good one. We invest heavily in our customer experience. Our customer service team are based in Sydney, and are available via phone and email. What we want is for our customers to be able to call up and hear a local voice, someone who they trust and someone who can resolve their problem super quick – that’s really important to us when it comes to providing good customer service.”
“NPS is also important to us, as well as general customer happiness.” NPS refers to Net Promoter Score, a term basically referring to the percentage of people who are willing to promote Luxury Escapes to their friends. “Something like 95 percent of our customers are willing to promote us to their friends. In the travel industry, it’s one of the highest NPSs going around,” says Schwab.
“We’re really proud of that fact, and that our customers are some of our best sales people, in that our customers genuinely love us. People genuinely love the brand and love what we do – I think that’s a really key thing for us.”
“And also our vendors – we can really create incremental profitability for our vendors. If we weren’t doing that, we probably wouldn’t be in business,” says Schwab.
“Most advertising that hotels do is by online travel agents, so places like Booking.com and Expedia, which are amazing businesses, but they tend to a significant extend cannibalise bookings and the hotel’s revenue. What we do at Luxury Escapes is that 99.9 percent of our customers weren’t planning to go to the hotel that we booked for them until we told them about it, so we are genuine incremental revenue for a hotel. We’ll genuinely fill empty hotel rooms with great people.”
“We’re also able to curate amazing experiences for customers by adding things like massages, dinners and breakfasts, cooking classes and hotel transfers and that kind of stuff that hotels are happy to give because they love our customers, and they’re getting a profit boost as well. So we really do try and create a win-win all the time, so our customers have an amazing experience and the hotels generate incremental profitability. If we can keep doing that, then we’ve got a really sustainable business.”
“With Luxury Escapes, essentially what we’re in is the “happiness” business and if we do a good job, people are happy, and that’s a really nice business to be in.”
Luxury Escapes has several key engagements with its online customers. One of them being a daily email with a selection of curated content from its website and subscribers, who also receive a weekly email as well. “What we try to do is show the best content that we have, to inspire people to travel. We’ve also got a really engaged social platform – we have 600,000 people on Facebook, which is a super engaged page. Most of our posts get thousands of likes and potentially hundreds of shares and comments. We also have over 100,000 followers on Instagram as well.”
“Ultimately our content is what drives the business forward. We’ve got a significant team of BDMs, our partnership contracting managers globally, who have great relationships with hotels around the world. They’ll go up face to face and speak to all these hotels and owners of places like The Ritz Carlton and the Marriott, and negotiate exclusive packages for us.”
“We are also working on new technology and e-commerce features to make the online booking process much easier. We now have an online booking calendar so you can book your dates instantly, like Booking.com and Expedia, so it’s a much more user friendly experience, rather than booking a package and then booking the hotel, which is what we were doing in the early days. We’ve invested heavily in technology to improve the user experience, and that’s ultimately resulted in higher conversions.
We’re always thinking about how can we make the online user experience better throughout, and we’ve invested in Salesforce technology.”
The company also have a VIP club for its platinum members, those customers who spend a sizeable amount with Luxury Escapes, which gives them special privileges. “We’ve worked out a fantastic platform for them to be able to have their own travel consultant who can help them book trips, and have a direct line through and get special offers exclusive to our platinum club members.” Schwab says the Luxury Escapes team are currently working on a raft of exciting features for its website, to take it to the next level.
What is the next level?
“In the next two to three years we’d like to see Luxury Escapes as the dominant Pan-Asian travel business, in terms of fantastic curated experiences. We’d not only like this vision for Australia and New Zealand – we’d love to broaden our Asian reach across countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and India, who have a great market and a great appetite for what we sell. We just need to work out the best way to take it to a bigger audience.”