An extensive background in the banking industry helps Lauren LaCour relate to her clients, who are largely Gen Xers in the financial services sector.
“They have a passion for travel, but have busy lives and appreciate assistance and expertise in making those travel plans a reality,” she says. “I understand what it’s like to work in a stressful corporate environment and the need to maximize your time off with family and friends.”
Two years ago, the Long Island, NY, native and Boston College graduate left a successful career as an executive director at J.P. Morgan to pursue a career in travel with Departure Lounge, a Virtuoso member, setting up shop in Naples, FL. It was a move that was influenced by her experiences living overseas.
“I’ve had many life-defining moments while traveling. The first one [was] at age 22, when I moved across the world for a work transfer, choosing Hong Kong simply because it was farther away and sounded more exotic than London. It radically changed my life,” LaCour says, and it also inspired her “to help others experience new cultures and beautiful places around the world.”
All totaled she spent nearly 12 years living overseas — mostly in London, but also in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Edinburgh — and her travels have taken her to more than 70 countries across seven continents. Along the way she has acquired an extensive global network, which, combined with her firsthand visits to so many destinations, sets her apart from her competition, she says.
“I can discuss global destinations off the cuff with my clients, including best times to visit depending on festivals, sporting events or if flowers are in bloom. I truly enjoy discussing options with my clients and often opening them up to a destination they may never have thought of.”
Of course, knowledge alone does not make one a trendsetting travel advisor, so LaCour complements her expertise with “a commitment to excellence, thorough due diligence and client focus,” skills acquired during her years in banking and consulting.
“I am also flexible to clients’ needs, often taking calls with clients very early, very late or over the weekend, as it is not realistic to connect [strictly] during weekday hours,” she says.
LaCour is an avid sports fan who finds sporting events a unique way to experience local culture. “I’ve gone to the British Open at St. Andrews, Wimbledon, Royal Ascot races and the Tour de France, watched football [aka soccer] in Madrid, rugby in Hong Kong and the Olympics in Athens and London.” She is no mere spectator, however, having cycled across Alaska, surfed in Hawaii, gone scuba diving “in beautiful waters around the world,” run in London and New York triathlons, trekked to Everest Base Camp and even climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. “Sports and travel make an exhilarating combination,” she says.
LaCour plans to grow her business largely through networking, as well as hosting events, such as a safari night at Departure Lounge, so that “clients and prospective clients can learn about new destinations or products.” She also says that sharing trip photos and stories on social media “has been a great way of inspiring travel.” She will soon be posting items from India — the next stop on her continuing world travels.