TravelConsultingHub.com is a guide and resource for wanderlusts. I recently had the chance to chat with P. Paulino, Managing Partner of Travel Consulting Hub. Check out our Q and A session below.
- Q: In a brief description, tell us about your business TravelConsultingHub.com.
A: Travel Consulting Hub is a custom travel services provider. The travel industry has multi-niche business opportunities and we focus on concierge services for people looking to save time while getting a customized experience at the same time. From redeeming and booking free flights with air miles to tailoring a journey to your specific needs and wishes, we help our customers to get the best travel experience based on our expert knowledge. We’re not a travel agency but we provide high-value travel services (like award bookings) they can’t.
- Q: What inspired you to start a Travel concierge service?
A: Unlike most (or some) start-ups, it wasn’t a big market research or finding a gap on the market! It just started with my passion and accumulated knowledge about travel. As an experienced traveler I’ve collected lots of air miles over the years but realized very few people really knew how to redeem those miles into free flights. I started booking air miles redemptions for family and friends as a hobby and later organizing tailored trips for them as well based on some of the places I’ve already been. It was like an add-on service I offered! From there more people started to show interest on what I did – not only the ability to find free seats on planes but also the “off the beaten path” approach I took to any destination – and I decided to build a basic website to help people getting the most of their travels. TCH as a business only started when I simply couldn’t keep up with the demand and needed to get a team to work with me.
- Q: How difficult was it to create a team, and what do you look for when recruiting people for TCH these days?
A: It wasn’t hard to get a team as I knew some people interested on what I did, the hardest part was to achieve a professional and consistent level from everyone. It’s completely different to share ideas and tips among friends or running such a specific travel business. Nowadays, we still look for passionate and experienced travelers in different places on the globe (to be as global as possible) but professional enough to deliver nothing but the best to every client.
At the same time, last year we started a referral program so more people can partner with us without being a TCH consultant. We found out to be a great tool and a great way to find passionate people not only about travel, but what we do as well. You just need to apply and refer clients to get paid a commission.
- Q: After checking out your site, it seems as if you have keen passion for traveling (awesome!). What are some of your favorite destinations? Why?
A: That’s a tough one! [Laugh] If you travel a lot you will find amazing and diverse places all over the world, but what really fascinates me are the people we meet along the way, it’s what makes a place special. However, there are some cities and countries that stand out on my mind every time I get that question. Australia is one of those places, for instance. For me, Sydney is the most beautiful city on the planet and the remoteness of the desert is something out of this world! Then you have countries like Japan, where tradition meets modern and where you can feel isolated in a garden in central Tokyo – or even Cambodia, where the friendliness of the people makes you stay there forever despite all the poverty. Angkor Wat complex is a spiritual and magical place not to be missed. As for natural beauty, the Azores islands are lovely but nothing beats Bora Bora, it takes your breath away!
- Q: Many travelers have become accustomed to booking travel for themselves online. In your opinion, why should a person consider using TCH?
A: Like I said before, the travel industry has many niches and different targets. If you need to book a hotel room in London or New York, you can easily compare prices and book on a big site like BookingsCompany.com for instance.
But what if you have air miles and want to book a free upgrade or a free flight (or even some nights at a resort with those miles)? How many people actually know how to do that? What if you need to fly tomorrow morning and don’t need to find the cheapest flight but rather the shortest connection between two cities? Or if you’re planning a family vacation but don’t want to go where all the tourists go?
I could give you lots of other examples but the point is that Travel Consulting Hub provides high-value and custom travel services you won’t find at any travel agency, period! We save people time by tailoring their journey to what they are looking for without having to spend endless hours searching and booking online without proper knowledge. Moreover, we assign a dedicated consultant to every customer 24/7, that’s what really makes a client feel special and stands us apart. Not only you can access your travel plans online but you can also get in touch with your consultant to change them or even asking to book a table at a restaurant later that night. It’s like having a butler while you’re traveling!
For corporate services, we can help reducing travel costs at any company or even organizing meeting and events anywhere on the planet.
- Q: What role does the initial consultation you offer take on your business strategy?
A: The free consultation (usually via Skype) we offer is crucial to our business strategy, without a doubt. It’s where we get to know our client, what he’s looking for and how we can help. For us, it’s the foundation of our business relationship, understanding our clients (the “wants and needs” of an American client are completely different of an Asian one, for instance), offering solutions and making them feel unique, despite their location. If you want to use your miles but don’t know how, or when, we can help you right from the start with destinations, availability and travel tips. We try to provide value to our clients as soon as they approach us.
On the other hand, from a business perspective, it’s a way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors as no one in the industry does this (at least that I know of!).
- Q: Our audience is strongly focused on entrepreneurship. Any advice for business owners who have a hard time balancing business with pleasure?
A: Two words come into my mind, passion and focus. Any business owner should be really passionate about the business in order to succeed, but needs to have focus to separate the professional and personal side of life. It’s very easy to be carried away by your business. If you love what you do – and that should be the reason why you started your business the first place! – you need to work hard, but at the same time you need to set some boundaries. Be focused on what you do while at work, but don’t lose focus to live your own life as well. Learn how to delegate tasks and make yourself available to do the things you like… otherwise, you’ll eventually become your own employee!
- Q: Your blog is an awesome resource for those interested in the latest happenings in the travel industry. Care to share any travel tips for 2016?
A: Although affected by the world Economy, natural disasters and political events anywhere, the travel industry is always exploring new markets and destinations. I think in 2016 and beyond people will continue to look for different and exciting new destinations. I think this year we’ll see exponential growth in Asia. While Thailand remains the biggest destination – with a myriad of different options rather than just Bangkok and Phuket that people forget! – I’d visit Laos or the Philippines this year. Europe is strong as usual. Paris has recovered from last year’s terrorist attacks and it’s always a must, but we recommend visiting Croatia or Montenegro. Still unexplored and beautiful places to be discovered.
At TCH we’re also forecasting 2016 to be a great year for air miles redemptions, with new destinations (United will start flying non-stop to Singapore and Qatar and Emirates will start flying to Auckland) and bigger aircraft to serve them (most airlines are replacing the Boeing 747 with the A380 for long-haul routes, which allows more free seats).
All in all, new destinations to be explored, new long-haul routes to be flown and lots of opportunities to redeem your air miles in 2016… but the best tip is to go to our website, book with us and leave everything on the hands of your consultant!