Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell, co-owner and director of luxury tour operator cazenove+loyd, speaks to Globetrender about what he has learnt about high-end travellers from 30 years of business – and what’s coming next for the company.

What does the way you do business say about you?

“I will be forever fascinated by our destinations and with the people that we choose to work with. We do not consider our clients or partners to be anything other than fellow travellers. Our aim is to create experiences that bring people together from different cultures and foster a deeper appreciation for our world. At cazenove+loyd, we are always looking to do things differently and use our expertise to shape new and better ways to travel. That is what keeps us fresh and relevant as the world continues to evolve.”

How has your outlook evolved over the past 30 years?

“I am disappointed that homogeneity has surpassed originality in terms of some of the hotels, lodges and travel experiences now on offer, and surprised that lazy norms often prevail in the travel sector. While this degrades the industry and all who it touches, this only makes us want to push harder for excellence, albeit against the pattern of money talking over what is right for a destination. I am encouraged by the fact that our ethos of slow travel is becoming more widely adopted and that the more information that exists, the more our services are needed to navigate the mediocre.”

Who is a typical client and how are their needs and expectations changing?

“The cazenove+loyd client is one who expects more from their travels. They are demanding, curious and adventurous, and relish the joy of trying new things. Our clients expect unparalleled knowledge, service and expertise, and value our first-hand experience. It is our job to guide them on fulfilling their trip purpose, as well as providing moments that surprise and delight in ways that they didn’t know they were looking for.

“Those who have travelled with cazenove+loyd know that we are trusted collaborators that never compromise on quality. When working with new clients, we love to showcase the many ways in which we are not the same as mainstream travel providers, from our empirical knowledge to the importance of impartial guidance. We demonstrate our difference at every step and prove the value we bring.”

How is your expertise expressed through the trips you design?

“No itinerary will ever be the same – even for clients visiting the same destination. Every contact with both client and partner should mean added learning, which makes every element of any itinerary better. We take feedback from clients and partners very seriously and are always adapting in pursuit of continuing to be the best.”

What kinds of interesting requests are you getting from clients?

“A client who had studied archaeology at university wanted to experience the excitement of discovering an ancient site for himself. Certain Mayan ruins in Guatemala are completely inaccessible due to thick forest, so it was the one destination where we knew that by chartering a helicopter, we could get him to an incredible site that was also off-radar and to an extent ‘undiscovered’.

“Planning surprises with members of a family already travelling with us is always a wonderful way to add real value. We arranged for a son and daughter-in-law to fly to Oman unbeknownst to his parents and paraglide onto the beach to surprise them.

“We always strive to adapt and personalise excursions within an itinerary to enchant our clients and pique their individual interests. A family that travelled with us to the cloud forest in Ecuador was highly involved with conservation, so we organised for an expert guide to lead a conservation-focused excursion at Mashpi Lodge, specifically designed to highlight the effects of logging and deforestation.

“With remote working now the norm, we have seen an uptick in client requests involving longer-term travel to destinations that they have dreamed of living in. Duration has varied anywhere from one to six months, with some clients negotiating specific terms with their employers to facilitate working abroad for set number of months for the coming two to five years.

“As such, we’re designing immersive five-year travel plans whereby clients stay longer in one destination, living and working from their new ‘home’. These trips include key factors such as arranging extended stays in private homes, mini trips from their base to explore further afield, and ensuring connectivity and time difference aren’t an issue.

Do people of different ages desire different things from the travel experience?

“Preconceived ideas of how different age groups operate are being broken down as the older demographic is travelling more adventurously – and for longer. They require our expertise to manage this process, but with that comes a responsibility for enhanced handholding and forthright advice. Some parents are now undertaking more intrepid holidays with younger children, and likewise grandparents with their grandchildren. This means multi-generational holidays are no longer just about a villa and a few excursions as we’ve highlighted with the trend for ‘Paradise Camps’.”

What do the next five years look like for cazenove+loyd?

“We are incredibly proud to be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. Reaching this milestone after the turbulent last few years has only served to feed our hunger to be best in class and to share our unique style of travel with as many like-minded souls as we can. We’ll see amplified curiosity in how to do things differently and travel in a way that is more in tune with the destination. Conservation, community and climate are all key tenets of this shift, a focus that we hope will lead to slower itineraries, more authentic hotels and lodges, and more original guides and experiences.

“We are continuing to find and curate new and exciting experiences for multi-generational holidays, which are also on the rise. Family holidays, particularly with those with teenagers and sometimes one on one with a solo parent, are an exciting development – educational, life-enhancing trips designed to enlighten and inspire the next generation. We are also planning to expand our portfolio to meet the rising appetite for more intrepid trips for clients in their 60s and 70s, from expedition cruises and hiking or trekking, to exploring hands-on hobbies.”

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