Only 10 months into her second career, that of running a luxury travel agency, Charlotte French of Cavatica Luxury Travel, an affiliate of Avenue Two Travel, has met her personal goal of $500,000 in bookings, and she is looking to grow from there.
“My clients are a wonderful mix of solo travelers, couples and multigenerational families, which makes my role as a travel advisor so enjoyable,” French says. “A number of my clients have come to me as a result of our connection in clinical research, which also means that they expect the same high quality and timely delivery that they are used to on a daily basis.”
French’s first career in global clinical research, which she describes as “a very highly regulated industry where quality, timeliness, delivery and teamwork with the client and / or other suppliers was critical to the success of every drug development and approval,” has helped her in several ways. “With a background in project and contract management and finance, and these four key tenets firmly rooted in my DNA, I felt I was well-positioned to launch into a new career as a luxury and specialty travel advisor,” she says.
French says that the greatest secret she learned from her time in research, however, is the ability to listen to what the client is saying and, more importantly, what they are not saying. “It is often the unsaid requirements of a client that can make you truly stand out in designing an itinerary that doesn’t just meet their needs but exceeds them,” she says.
As an example, French recently designed an itinerary for a couple taking their first trip to Ireland using a travel advisor. During their initial conversation, the couple mentioned that they wanted to see some of the many castles there, but they were also looking to keep the trip within a restricted budget.
“In working with the DMC in Ireland, I requested that they include just one of the nights in a castle, which they were able to do,” French says. “When the client received the itinerary, she was so thrilled to see that this was included in the trip; she was quite emotional.”
French is a fan of the little touches, too. She provides her clients traveling through British airports with the exact clear plastic bags that those airports use for security screenings, just to make sure that clients do not have to throw away any items in the security line. She also believes in being proactive, whether that means reaching out to a client a few weeks before a final payment is due, or providing them with information on a destination before they ask for it.
Having only launched her agency in January 2019, French says that she does not have a niche at this time; although, having lived and worked in many countries in Africa during her prior career and being a member of the Virtuoso Adventure Community, she says she is looking to specialize in safari and adventure travel.
“That said, I am most interested in building the relationships with my clients and being with them as their travel advisor for years to come,” she says. “I want to be flexible and ensure that I have a strong knowledge of the trending destinations, enabling me to deliver a high quality of service, whether they want to travel to the United Kingdom, Italy or attend a bucket-list sporting event.”