Going it Alone Is Just Fine for Jeffrey Traugot

Ask Jeffrey Traugot how many advisors he has working at his agency and he’ll respond, “Currently zero.” But that doesn’t mean this travel advisor, who brings in an annual volume of business to the tune of $4.25 million, is lonely by any means. “I like to think that an extension of my office are the colleagues in the industry that I talk to regularly, hotel DOSMs, the various owners of the representation agencies, the tour operators that I consult with, and all the hotel representatives that I work with,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor.

Traugot lives in New York City on the Upper East Side with his wife and two sons. With Manhattan as his vast backyard, he frequently meets with his clients face to face, which weaves well into his goal of providing a high level of service. That attention to service has been even more important in a COVID world since travel requirements are ever-changing, he says.

“Destinations have been opening and closing, and clients have had to change plans at the last minute more than ever,” says Traugot. “Navigating the complexity has become my specialty.”

Luxury has always been Traugot’s focus, particularly for itineraries for Europe, Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Safaris and private yachts were also de rigueur for many of his clients, pre-COVID. These days, he says he’s putting a keener emphasis on wellness travel, with more clients seeking destinations and experiences to improve health and well-being.

Jeffrey Traugot family
The Family That Travels Together: Traugot says his sons and wife have elite airline status through their travel and that makes him happy and proud. (Courtesy Jeffrey Traugot )

This successful luxury travel advisor doesn’t have to harken back to pre-COVID days to recount some of his most impressive feats in selling luxury travel. Both of his sons are skilled foil fencers who have had the opportunity to train in Europe. In August 2021, their fencing coach was determined to bring several groups of fencers to train over three weeks in Venice and the Dolomites with world-renowned coaches and other fencers. All this, during a pandemic. She asked Traugot to help arrange everyone’s travel, including families that were interested in adding on pre and post destinations. Traugot didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge, and created itineraries in Venice and Bologna that kept the group teens, and their parents entertained all around.

The trip provided Traugot’s largest booking ever at the Hotel Danieli in Venice, with 43 room nights.

It didn’t go without a hitch, of course. There was a pandemic, after all.

“The JFK-Venice nonstop I booked for the large group was canceled, and luckily I was able to rebook everyone for the day before,” says Traugot. 

Highlights? “The Venice and Bologna foodie walking tours were a big hit with moody teens,” he said. “The parents who decided to travel as well were able to experience some of my favorite destinations in Italy right before more restrictions were introduced due to COVID.” Perhaps the best part was that Traugot’s valiant efforts were recognized by all.

“They continue to express so much gratitude for their magical experiences,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor.

Another recent “famous feat” by Traugot was planning several corporate retreats in the Caribbean for executives at the partner level. Aside from the intricate coordination required at the properties, Traugot had clients arriving from several destinations; he also needed to customize a wide variety of pre- and post-travel arrangements. “Add COVID restrictions into the mix, and there were many details to think through for many more people,” says Traugot.

He expects to see similar trips in the future with the “new normal.”

“With some companies giving up office space permanently, I see more opportunity in the future for luxury business retreats as a way for company management to connect employees and spend time together,” says Traugot.

That $4.25 million in business he books annually skews about 70 percent leisure and 30 percent corporate; however, Traugot is so immersed in his clients’ lives, their reason for traveling blurs.

“I can say that most of my corporate clients are also my leisure clients,” he says. “It’s funny because I don’t look at it as corporate or leisure, it’s just business and clients. If somebody needs to get on an airplane to Miami and stay at a hotel, it could be corporate, it could be leisure. But to me, it’s a booking. It’s my job.”

Groups fall into the same category; for example, he just arranged a gathering at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Surfside, FL and he has another group of clients taking up 16 rooms at Rosewood Mayakoba.

“I’ve done larger than that, I’ve done smaller than that, but why would I tell somebody, ‘You know what? I’m sorry, I don’t want to do your corporate trip. You’d better talk to someone else about that. But I’ll do your personal trip,’” he notes.

He books air for the same reason.

“I couldn’t imagine telling a client, ‘Okay, great. I’m going to book you for a week and a half at Amanyara but get yourself there and back” he tells us.

His clients tend to be “high-net-worth individuals and their families who appreciate and value luxury travel,” says Traugot. They are in finance, real estate, law, medicine, consulting, the arts and a variety of other businesses. They’re based throughout the United States and some are international, he adds.

A recurring theme when speaking to Jeffrey Traugot is that he believes in the power of relationships and is friends with many of his clients, having lunch and dinner with them when he can, in town or even at their homes. His clients view him as a friend as well.

“I’ve been working with them for years. I know their families. I know what they like. I know what they don’t like. I know what to suggest and what not to suggest to them,” says Traugot, who says most of his business is repeat and referral.

Another secret of his success is that he is available 24/7. “If I ever have an out-of-office message, it’s only because I’m on an airplane and there’s no Wi-Fi,” he says.

That ethos is just part of who he is. “I’m always working, for better or for worse and that’s because my clients are people I like to work with,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor.

Case in point: If Traugot has a connecting flight while he’s traveling, he’ll check his clients’ itineraries to see if their plans intersect so he can say hello at the airport. In particular if they’re a new client, as he likes to put a face to the name.

“I have a personal relationship with each client,” he says.

Traugot used to have an office in Manhattan but closed it during the pandemic. He now works from home or, really, from wherever he is at the moment. He never let COVID stop him from traveling, in fact, he amped up his adventures over the past two years, with the thought that it was a good time to see the world without the masses.

Jeffrey Traugot
Traugot is friends with his customers as he believes in the power of relationships. (Courtesy Jeffrey Traugot )

“My favorite hash tag is #traveladvisorsmusttravel,” says Traugot. “I traveled more in 2021 than in any previous year.” 

In the past two years alone, his trips took him to Singapore, Italy, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Arizona (Castle Hot Springs and Canyon Ranch), California, Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas, the U.K., Florida, Mexico, and France.

“Each trip was planned around seeing new destinations and properties,” he says, noting that taking his family along is his greatest joy.

“My sons and my wife have elite airline status through their travel and that makes me happy and proud,” says Traugot. 

Fencing competitions give the Traugot clan another reason to travel. In 2021, fencing took them to Fort Worth, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Boston, Columbus, Richmond and Baltimore, which fueled Traugot’s knowledge of the U.S. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to scope out many wonderful domestic properties, along with local attractions,” he says.

Traugot enjoyed traveling through the pandemic because it enabled him to show his clients that it was possible.  

“More than ever, my personal travel experience resonates with clients,” says Traugot. “I’ve been able to offer first-hand narratives of how things have been, from take-off to transfers, to the experience in the destination.”

Another plus? “The relationships with my suppliers are stronger than ever as a result of my travel,” he says.

Because supplier relationships are important and so Traugot goes to multiple luxury travel events a year, such as ILTM, DUCO and Emotions. “I’m constantly trying to go to two or three travel conferences a year to broaden my knowledge and to get new contacts,” he says.

Constantly fueling his knowledge of the world is a priority. His clients are quite well traveled but Traugot loves surprising them with tidbits of insider secrets he’s picked up over the years.

In Rome, for example, he stumbled upon some catacombs over by the Westin and Baglioni hotels a few years back. He knows that there are more famous catacombs that visitors typically go to, but he loves sharing his unique experience with clients headed to Rome. “I’m like, ‘You know what? If you’re in this part of the city, check this place out. It will cost you five euros to enter. It’s fascinating.’ I love sharing experiences of the places that I’ve been to,” he says.

On the true luxury level, Traugot is adept at arranging airport greeters, whether with security and door-to-door white-glove service or not. Dinner reservations are another area of expertise and he’s also recently begun offering travel insurance as a trip add-on, a feature he did not often serve up in the past.

“Obviously, the world’s much more complicated now and it’s important that clients have it,” he notes. “I mention it to them with pretty much every trip.” 

Jeffrey Traugot
Experience Collector: Traugot is shown here at the Tokara Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch Mountains, South Africa. (Courtesy Jeffrey Traugot )

Important Connections

Traugot is an independent contractor affiliated with Travel Experts, a host agency that is a member of Virtuoso. He joined them eight years ago, after 20 years with SmartFlyer. Aside from the Virtuoso relationship, Travel Experts serves him well since it’s a member of all the major hotel programs, including MILUX STARS, Four Seasons Preferred, Dorchester Diamond, Peninsula PENClub, Belmond Bellini, Hilton impresario, Hyatt Prive, Oetker Pearls, Relais & Chateaux Preferred Partner, Rosewood Elite, Shangri-La Luxury Circle and Sir Rocco Forte Knights. 

The programs allow him to offer stand-out luxury amenities to his clients, which certainly helps fuel his business, but Traugot says that it’s Travel Experts’ leadership that makes the network special.

“I have been impressed by how forward-thinking the organization is. Being kind and helpful is the key ethos of the business,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “It is run with integrity, which is foundational to me.”

He often travels with other ICs within the Travel Experts network and he learns a lot from them, he says.

“Travel Experts also has a great online community to exchange information and ideas, which creates a tremendous support network,” he adds. “It’s a passionate community that I have been proud to be a part of.”

He’s also happy with the day-to-day interactions with the network. “Feeling supported by the host agency is key.  Travel Experts has an incredible support staff and back office. Whenever I reach out to them with any ticketing issues, commission concerns, or any other questions, they are always there for me,” says Traugot.

Other dynamics are keeping Traugot jazzed in 2022. As a New Yorker (he grew up in Oceanside on Long Island and has long lived in Manhattan) he is excited about the investment that some of the top luxury brands are making in the city, such as Aman, Six Senses and Fasano. “They will keep raising the bar on sophisticated luxury travel in a destination that already has outstanding product,” says Traugot. “This is both personally exciting for me, as a New Yorker, and a testament to the value those brands place on New York City as a travel destination.”

He is also keen to see how The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Explora Journeys will innovate as they enter the upper end of luxury travel at sea.  

As noted above, Traugot never feels alone, even as an independent contractor. “I have built invaluable relationships with many advisors,” he says. “The thing I love about our industry is that it is very collaborative. There are many advisors whom I will call if I have questions about areas of their expertise, and many advisors call me for the same reason. I take the time to mentor new advisors and have benefitted tremendously from mentorship myself.”

Traugot says that he works with suppliers in a way that it will most benefit his clients. “Sometimes I book directly, sometimes I book through tour operators. The key is knowing their product, so that I can seamlessly match their product and value to my clients’ needs.”

Jeffrey Traugot
In the spirit of wellness, when Traugot has a bit of downtime, he enjoys boxing at Rumble Fitness in Manhattan and Hill Street Boxing in Southampton, NY.  (Courtesy Jeffrey Traugot )

He says he will go out of his way to build relationships with the people that own travel representation companies, hotel sales and marketing directors and hotel reps, as well as the tour operator booking companies. 

“I am connected with many through social media, and I have become friends with so many in the industry,” says Traugot. “I travel as much as possible on fam trips to learn destinations better so that I have an insider view on the places and properties my clients will appreciate.”

As to the future, Traugot is perfectly happy with the ways things are. He says he is focusing on ways to expand his business by forming deeper relationships with other independent contractors.

“I love my clients and will continue to deliver the service they expect from me,” he says. “I truly enjoy working with my clients and meeting them for a drink or dinner, and the same goes for the referrals that they send me. I would really like to continue doing what I am doing.”

He is thrilled that luxury travel improves all the time.

“The speed with which luxury is being re-imagined and redefined is what keeps me engaged. Planes are getting more comfortable to get to destinations. The focus on wellness and the increasing options for customization keep my clients interested. As long as there is continued investment in luxury product, our clients will want the experiences, because, you know, #FOMO,” he says, referring to the anxiety wrought on consumers when they experience the “fear of missing out.” 

Traugot Travel, Inc., An IC affiliated with Travel Experts

Owner: Jeffrey Traugot
Location: New York, NY
Number of advisors: “Currently zero. I like to think that an extension of my office are my colleagues in the industry that I talk to regularly, Hotel DOSMs, the various owners of the Representation Agencies, Tour Operators that I consult with, and all the hotel representatives that I work with.”
Annual volume of business: $4.25M
Affiliations: Virtuoso, MILUX STARS, Four Seasons Preferred, Dorchester Diamond, Peninsula PENClub, Belmond Bellini, Hilton impresario, Hyatt Prive, Oetker Pearls, Relais & Chateaux Preferred Partner, Rosewood Elite, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Sir Rocco Forte Knights
Agency website: www.traugottravel.com
Instagram: @jeffreytraugot
Facebook: Jeffrey Traugot

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