Being a good reporter usually means not getting emotionally involved in a story you are covering. But sometimes, you just stumble upon a tale that grabs your heart — and changes your life.
That’s what happened to Louise Dunn of Camelback Odyssey Travel, when she was assigned to cover Virtuoso Travel Week for Fox News Business network in 2008. It was a tough year for the U.S. economy, and Dunn had been reporting many sad tales of businesses in trouble. So she was amazed at Virtuoso to discover that the luxury travel market was booming. By the end of the conference, she knew she wanted to be part of it.
A native of Australia, Dunn majored in business and finance, but in the end decided that banking and brokering were just too stuffy, and instead took a job as an on-air reporter at a country radio station. After a few years she was promoted to metropolitan news in Melbourne, and then finally to a post as a foreign correspondent in the United States.
Eventually she moved to the Fox News Business network, just launching on the West Coast, covering everything from the entertainment business to the California state budget. But it was her assignment to write a story on luxury travel, and her trip to Virtuoso Travel Week, that changed her life.
“The recession had hit, and most businesses were suffering — but not high-end travel,” she says. “This gave me an insight into the amazing world of luxury travel and laid the path to my current career.”
She credits Camelback Odyssey Travel’s owner, Shelby Donley, with being her role model as she and her associate Lauren Carter formed the Private Client Group, “catering to high-net-worth individuals with a taste for incredible experiences, who demand personal service every step of the way, and delivering an unsurpassed level of service.” With two young boys of her own, she focuses on “making what may seem to be an impossible experience happen for a unique family or individual.”
While declining to cite an exact number, Dunn said her sales are “in the multimillion-dollar range.” She got there, she believes, by beginning every consultation by asking clients what story they want to tell when they get home. Do they want to tell an adventure story? A love story? A family story?
“Then, using my fabulous team and wonderful collaborators around the world, I write the script for their holiday,” she says.
With a customer base of businesspeople, she sees American Express as her biggest competitor — and always makes sure to explain the tangible and intangible advantages of using travel advisors as a consultant.
“We are travel designers, professionals, who are constantly researching destinations, attending luxury travel conferences and delivering 24/7 service to our clients. We all need to communicate this more effectively,” she says.
This year, her personal itinerary includes a trip back to her roots in Australia to see the “many wonderful new places, like the Jackalope Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula. It’s a stunning design, set among a backdrop of vineyards.”
But through all her luxury voyages, her favorite thing is still to come home to L.A. and just sit by the pool with her boys and her dogs.