Citywealth’s April French Furnell recently met with Oliver Corkhill, CEO of Leo Trippi, a specialist travel agency and market leader for luxury chalet rentals in the Alps, to gain an insight into how the UHNW spend their winter holidays.
Tell us a bit about the history of Leo Trippi and your role.
Leo Trippi was the great-grandfather of one of the co-founders of the business. He owned four landmark hotels across the Engadine and Italy all of which soon became the ‘places to be’ for European socialites and aristocracy. Since 2008, Leo Trippi has been focused on renting exclusive use properties around the world and today, we are a market leader for luxury chalet rentals across the Alps having been voted as the ‘World’s Best Ski Travel Agent’ for five consecutive years. As a company we’re truly embedded in the heart of the Alps, with offices in Verbier, St. Moritz and Zermatt all allowing us unrivalled access and connections to make things happen on the ground.
My role is quite diverse although my primary focus is on business development including sales, marketing, new products and finance. Day to day, I travel to meet with key clients, speak to our suppliers and property owners, and continuously explore new opportunities. When I’m in our office in Cirencester, my time is split between handling requests from my clients and helping the team with various ongoing projects.
Tell us a little about the typical Leo Trippi client?
There isn’t a ‘typical’ Leo Trippi client as such, our customer base is globally-diverse. Of course, due to the nature of the product our clients tend to be UHNW individuals and they value personal service and knowing that someone is pre-empting their requests and taking care of everything for them. When holiday time is so precious, it’s important to know that the company you are relying on is able to take care of the smaller things that ultimately make or break a trip. We spend a great deal of time getting to know our clients and are regularly meeting for coffee or lunch so that we can build stronger relationships and have real insight into what they’re looking for.
Tell us about recent experiences you’ve organised for clients?
We recently organised an incredible birthday celebration for a client and 18 of their friends and family in Verbier - in one of the best chalets in the resort. With less than a week’s notice we sourced highly regarded traditional Swiss musicians and yodelers to perform for the group on the evening of our client’s birthday.
For another one of our regular customers we planned a bespoke tour around New Zealand with unique farming experiences, a private guide to see the kiwis and a helicopter glacier tour over the course of a 10-day trip. I appreciate this isn’t ski related, however is a good example of what we can do for our loyal guests.
Where are the hot spots to visit?
The top resorts of Courchevel 1850, St. Moritz, Verbier, Zermatt and Val d’Isere continue to be the favourite places to visit in the Alps. That being said, we are now experiencing more and more guests who wish to visit the Dolomites, as well as resorts such as Andermatt and Grindelwald.
What’s most important to your clients when arranging their trips?
This totally depends on the clients and is completely individual. Of course, a huge proportion of the biggest trips take place over Christmas, New Year and Orthodox Christmas as well as February half term. These are the times when clients really have to book early to secure the best properties.
I’d say that the most important factor is location and without question the most requested feature of a property is a ski-in/ski-out location, although true ski-in/ski-out properties are hard to come by in most resorts.
If you were to recommend one ‘experience’ for a client during their trip, what would it be?
Probably a helicopter tour over the mountains, it’s a relatively accessible experience but gives a bird’s eye view of the ski area and really helps to show the full beauty of the mountains.
Have you noticed any trends in changing demands from clients over the past 5-10 years?
The chalet market has really evolved and developed over the last decade and expectations for service standards have certainly propelled. The main objective for us as a company is to help clients navigate the market and help them to find the accommodation that is most suited to their needs. Often the lists of included services between properties can sound very similar when in fact they’re very different.
You are soon to launch in Moscow, what are your Russian clients looking for in luxury travel? How have you tailored your service to their differing needs/wants.
A high proportion of our business has always been from Russian speaking markets (45 per cent) so we’re very in tune with the market place and have always had several Russian speakers on the team.
I would say our Russian guests pay a lot of attention to the quality of the service and of course we adapt to “Russian service” for them in the properties. Many of the guests tend to prefer recently renovated or recently completed chalets and villas.
Generally, however the approach is the same as with any guests and we are always looking to listen to the individual requests and adapt as much as possible to deliver.
What should a client consider before calling you?
The best approach for everyone is to be completely open about what they’re looking for. The more information that is shared the better we can help to find the right properties and create the best experiences for guests.
For further information on Leo Trippi’s luxury property portfolio or bespoke experiences, please contact the Leo Trippi team on +44 203 004 8750 or visit www.leotrippi.com.