Zachary Shumway-Jones was a seasoned traveler even before he got into the business. Before founding The Seven — an independent affiliate of Strong Travel Services — in 2017, he traveled all over the world in search of the latest fashion trends as a buyer for the Dallas boutique, Forty Five Ten.
On his travels, he was “developing a black book of destination-based recommendations and contacts along the way,” he explains. These relationships with local insiders would prove invaluable in the travel industry.
Now, Shumway-Jones dedicates his time to crafting personalized, tailor-made travel experiences for his clients, using his firsthand knowledge and the relationships with those preferred partners across the globe to offer exclusive upgrades and travel perks.
“The Seven specializes in personalized travel planning,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “We identify the meaning of a place and, through a series of individual moments, create a spectacular journey. No two itineraries will ever be the same.”
With The Seven, Shumway-Jones brings in over $750,000 in annual revenue. How does he stand out? It’s a multipronged approach, and maintaining an online presence is a good start. To do so, he operates SeetheSeven.com and the company’s social media accounts to attract new business and participates in online marketing.
Shumway-Jones says he spends a lot of time building personal relationships, as well, meeting with sales representatives, hoteliers, restaurant managers, tour operators and other advisors.
“A meaningful network is important to any business, but especially so in travel. Through these relationships, I can deliver an increased service level to my clients,” he says.
Shumway-Jones also credits his success to the support of those around him at Strong Travel.
“At its core, Strong Travel is a family business. To work with Strong Travel is to feel supported and valued as if you were a member of Jim and Nancy Strong’s family.”
Another major part of his job is getting that personal experience in a destination.
“I spend most of the year traveling the world, conducting countless site inspections, seeking out off-the-beaten-path gems for the ‘I have seen it all’ traveler to discover.”
Just this year alone, Shumway-Jones’ travels have led him to Egypt, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, France, Italy, Turks & Caicos and several U.S. cities. In fact, he says he’ll have spent more than 200 days on the road in 2018. If that seems like a lot — don’t worry, the lifestyle suits him well.
“Some people love their desk job; I’m not a fan. I travel the world to discover its people, cultures and wonders firsthand,” he says. “I bring my experiences and recommendations from insiders I meet along the way to every itinerary.”
Though he is often on the road, he doesn’t let a busy travel schedule get in the way of the immediate needs of his clients.
“When a client needs immediate availability at Cipriani or a driver didn’t show up to the airport or a flight was cancelled, I am available. I must be available. I am flexible enough to adapt to my surroundings and provide my clients with an exceptional level of service,” he says.
Looking ahead to 2019, Shumway-Jones has safari trips planned with Royal Malewane in South Africa and Singita in Tanzania, as well as a trip to Bhutan with Aman.