By Elizabeth Greatrex
Although we may be in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, providing luxury travel experiences is still big business and competition remains fierce. But what is it that makes one successful company stand out from another? To those who can have it all, booking a luxury vacation becomes about so much more than landing the biggest yacht, laying your head at the prettiest villa, or sipping coffee above the best view. Yes, those things are all important, but providing a customer with their dream vacation? Well, that takes a refined mix of passion, professionalism, flair, and understanding that not all in this industry will possess. Taking a moment to chat to travel concierge company The Sun Secret Collection's CEO Alfredo and project manager Yana, I quickly understood that this company have discovered the enviable secret to providing the ultimate travel experience for their clients which no amount of money can buy – being creative, stimulating a genuine emotion, and therefore implanting incredible memories that will last forever.
Elizabeth Greatrex: How did The Sun Secret Collection start and what inspired you to enter this industry?
Alfredo Miraglia: I approached the industry of luxury travelling in 2012. My background is primarily in economics not travel. But having analysed the market, because I love to study, I discovered that our industries are primitive and that there are very few companies that operate on a worldwide scale. Therefore, it became my idea and project plan to try and build a worldwide company. In my opinion, if you have the vision, the persistence, the capability, the wish, and the strength to work hard, with the right people and the right investment, sooner or later you will be on the top of the market. In August 2018, The Sun Secret Collection was born. For this company the aim was and still is, to do everything possible to find our clients everything they could need and want in the luxury holiday sector. Having a 360-degree view of their needs within the luxury segment is paramount. This doesn't just include providing properties, but also food, a concierge service, and any other assistance required. I started alone, and step-by-step my team and I built a company that represents properties all around the world. We are proud to say that we can send our clients to four continents. We are the strongest in Europe, but nevertheless, we provide very good services and accommodation in the Middle East, Mexico, and in the US.
Yana Kovalskaya: My background was also in the finance sector, specifically in private banking. I was in that industry for almost 15 years. I then moved to the UK and changed my focus a bit and started to work in travel. I personally love travelling, and this market is in many ways very close to finance but much more exciting because it involves customer service.
EG: How are you adapting to the current global situation?
AM: As expected, Covid-19 has impacted us. With the border restrictions and the issues our customers will face when travelling, especially travelling for leisure, it is a problem and a complicated decision for anyone wanting to take a trip. However, we are taking advantage of the situation to digitalise the company. We decided to do this because it is our strongest belief that even though we are involved in an industry that is related to services, to be further along in the digitalisation of the business could be a great asset to us.
EG: What precautions are taking to keep your clients safe?
AM: Before we deliver the guests to their villas and chalets, we will sanitise the house. Of course, if the guest is travelling by private jet the private jet company manages their own sanitation procedures. During the transportation of guests, we ensure that all of our drivers wear masks, and they have to take a Covid-19 test before working.
EG: Talk to me about The Sun Secret Collection’s Red Circle Membership?
YK: Red Circle is a private membership club. We launched it recently, it’s already partly presented on our new website. This is a service for our existing and new clients and offers a range of high-end and high-value services, loyalty rewards unique to every member and travel benefits. Red Circle is a great way to provide our clients with a single point of contact to be able to access the best products and services within the entire luxury sector.
EG: You cite the 'Dolce Vita' experience as being a key asset to your brand. How would you describe it?
AM: The soul of our company is a mix of Italian and Russian. Somehow they are very close in culture and personality. You never see Italian or Russians being boring, ever. The point is, we achieve that essence within our company. We are not a mass-market company, we are a boutique and this makes a connection to our clients. Whoever the client may be, we try to provide them not just with accommodation, but with an emotion. To do this you need passion and expertise. For example, one element that we take care of a lot when the client stays in a property is food delivery. Because to deliver great food, is an emotion. To deliver very good wine is an emotion. And if you can take care of these details you can place the client and his or her family within an impenetrable, cocoon-like atmosphere. The Dolce Vita experience is something that the client keeps in their memory. It is not something you can sell. It is something you have to create.