Skift Take

Luxury travelers want to make sure that what they're paying for is actually luxurious, making startups that offer expert help from a human ahead of those aligned closer to mainstream or manufactured experiences.

When talking about travelers who want to live like locals, affluent/luxury travelers must be top of mind. This doesn’t imply all luxury travelers value authentic experiences, but more signs point to this group seeking out off the beaten path sights and stories. Many of them aren’t afraid to work with travel agents or experts to ensure they’re getting the luxury they’re seeking, and these five startups aim to cater to that need and a desire for a personalized touch that makes travel worthwhile.

>>Escapio is a metasearch site for luxury hotels. Hotels from more than 40 booking sites are compared alongside 15,000 customer reviews about properties. The site estimates it has access to about 6,000 properties in 50 countries that include design hotels, historic castles and rustic vineyard estates.

SkiftTake: Escapio needs to clean up its search results for its main search field on the home page and give travelers the results they’re looking for one step sooner. Searching for any given city yields a page of category link results, without any photos, that when clicked on take travelers to pages with hotel photos, descriptions and booking information. The filters and categories should be handled earlier in the search process to prevent confusion.

>>Luxtripper is an online travel agency for luxury hotels. Travelers can perform personalized searches for hotels based on filters such as group size, type of experience, and type of weather. Luxtripper then builds a list of personalized hotels and a traveler can request a quote for a specific hotel they’re interested in.

SkiftTake: Luxtripper puts “travel agency” back into the ubiquitous “online travel agency” term by actually having travel experts work directly with each travelers to create their ideal experience. It will work for travelers who want the expertise of a brick and mortar travel agency but don’t want to visit one or don’t have time, while having to wait for an agent to respond to a quote request will deter some travelers who want to make a more immediate booking.

>>Urbn Havn is a marketplace connecting affluent travelers to unique and curated homes with white glove service and amenities including 24-hour concierge services.

SkiftTake: By positioning itself as a seller of stories in addition to a seller of short-term luxury rental experiences, Urbn Havn tugs at affluent travelers’ desires to pay for accommodations that are luxurious, interesting, and filled with top-shelf amenities.

>>Le Collectionist lets luxury villa owners rent out their properties to travelers. Owners must be present during a guest’s stay and guests are assigned a private concierge.

SkiftTake: Guests love being pampered and feeling exclusive but Le Collectionist is likely a very involved experience for owners who may not always want to take an active role in the rental process.

>>Suiteness is a booking site for luxury hotel suites. It also has a membership program that includes airport limo pickup, personal concierge, and access to suites not previously bookable online.

SkiftTake: Hotels want to maintain exclusivity with their suites but need to realize celebrities and affluent travelers aren’t the only travelers willing to splurge for special occasions. Suiteness is one portal giving middle class and luxury travelers easier access to these opulent suites.

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Tags: skiftseedlings, startups

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