Andrew Carroll, global head of sales and marketing for Exotic Voyages // © 2016 Andrew Carroll
Feature image (above): Oman will soon be added to Exotic Voyages’ portfolio of destinations. // © 2016 iStock
Exotic Voyages was founded in 2010 by Vu Huy, an avid traveler who believes in combining a luxury travel experience with intimate, local cultural encounters. Offering private and tailor-made tours throughout Asia and the Subcontinent, the company is built on the notion that the most memorable and personal vacation experiences are made in the fine details of a trip, especially those that allow the client’s individuality to shine through.
Having either lived in or traveled extensively across the region in which they specialize, Exotic Voyages’ professionals are uniquely equipped to recommend paths less traveled and provide clients with truly authentic, personalized adventures, largely away from areas of mass tourism. With 18 offices in 12 countries, the company has its own operation center in each destination, with agents available on the ground to ensure that everything runs smoothly for their clients.
We reached out to Andrew Carroll, global head of sales and marketing for Exotic Voyages, for an in-depth perspective on what makes the company special among its peers.
How would you describe Exotic Voyages’ approach to travel?
Exotic Voyages has a very simple approach to travel. We focus on the most important aspect: a client’s happiness. Our aim is for a client to return so enthused with their journey that they want to book another with their agent, and hopefully promote our region to their friends and family.
While a simple approach, the work involved behind the scenes is huge. We go beyond the obvious that goes into planning a trip and listen to a client’s dreams, wishes, needs and anything else we know about them to create the right vacation, based solely on their requirements. Of course, we guide them with our local knowledge to ensure they are on the right path, traveling at the right speed for them — and at the right time. We know that no two people are the same and the same goes for our trips.
What are some of your unique offerings?
With our approach of treating each person as an individual, we offer all types of vacations throughout Asia suited to various travelers: couples, families, honeymooners, solo travelers, LGBT travelers and small groups, with options ranging from food tours to adventure tourism.
We also distinguish ourselves from other operators in the region by providing new and novel ways of seeing a place. For example, we recently launched a tour of Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand inspired by the 1974 James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun.” We’re also about to launch a 110-day spiritual journey across Asia. This new offering isn’t really an opportunity for a holiday so much as it is a chance to make a life-changing pivot.
What types of travelers does Exotic Voyages appeal to?
Those who want to have a genuine experience and to see a destination in the way they imagined it would be; those who want the freedom to change their minds and to create their own way of travel, all with the support of genuine experts. We work with travelers who want the ease and security of a group tour, while still feeling like they’re having a local, authentic experience and not following the crowds. They demand the best, and we deliver that.
What is the company’s overall outlook for 2017?
Business is looking very optimistic for 2017. We are shaping up for what we believe to be the biggest year so far since we started in 2010. We anticipate more people traveling to Asia to see these phenomenal sites while they’re still relatively untouched — well, as untouched as they can be, given the rise of tourism in the region.
We are also introducing some new destinations into our portfolio. Japan and Oman are two that we are very excited about. As a company, we never rest on our laurels or our past. We are constantly looking at how we can improve, where we can do more and deliver more to our guests. With that in mind, we’ll be rolling out several new and exciting high-quality products over the next 12 months, in addition to expanding the number of countries in which we offer tours.
Can you describe the types of accommodations available on your trips?
We offer all accommodations in the four- and five-star ranges. However, we always consider what a client needs and wants. Along with these hotels, we offer many experience stays — whether luxury camping on a sandbank, staying with a local family, or perhaps a treehouse matches their wishes.
What are some of activity options available to clients?
We can offer every kind of activity — fine dining in a private temple, ballooning across remote lands, meeting experts in art or architecture, kayaking in a bay or exploring caves, photographing unique sites with a professional photographer, food tours on the streets of Asia, local community access. We truly cater for all; nothing is impossible, and we make it all effortless for the guest.
These days, experiences involving elephants are getting very bad press, and some rightly so. But, as with life, you need to check for yourself and not believe all you hear. We work with a fantastic elephant nature park in northern Thailand. They care for them, they love them and they protect them. Can you ride them? No! Can you learn to appreciate elephants more and the wonderful work they do there? Yes. Should you go? Absolutely!
Can travel agents book your products?
Of course, we love to work with travel agents and the travel community. If anyone would like to sell our products, we offer full support on marketing material, training and all an agent may require. We pay commission and value each agent’s support, and we look at offering incentives for them throughout the year.