Business Profile | Victoria Boomgarden

April 2016 View more

Victoria Boomgarden, President of Direct Travel Luxe, for Naperville Magazine

The travel industry has seen tremendous changes over the years. Travelers are now demanding more personal attention and customization. Naperville-based Direct Travel Luxe is an emerging leader in travel management and specializes in tailored travel—personally designed travel tailored to affluent business and leisure travelers. Naperville Magazine recently spoke with Victoria Boomgarden, president of Direct Travel Luxe, about her company’s uniquely specialized approach at travel.

Your company, Best Travel Gold, recently rebranded itself as Direct Travel Luxe after the acquisition by Direct Travel. What was the driving force behind this move and what are your plans for future expansion?

When Best Travel was acquired by Direct Travel, I spent a year evaluating the opportunities under this larger and more robust enterprise. Working closely with Gerard Bellino, VP Leisure Travel Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, we examined the pool of Direct Travel’s high-profile corporate and leisure clients, and I knew this would make for a great fit for my company. I wanted to maintain my identity as a first-in-class service, so we developed the brand Direct Travel Luxe as a private luxury division. Currently, we are headquartered in Naperville, with a few agents in Northbrook. Over the next year, we hope to have Luxe agents in California, Florida, and South Carolina.

Direct Travel Luxe specializes in what’s called “tailored travel.” How is this different from other travel services?

Tailored travel is travel that is personally curated and expertly crafted. We work one-on-one with our members to design travel specific to their needs. Nothing from Luxe is a pre-packaged itinerary. We have specialists for every destination and connect clients with a team who has in-depth knowledge of what to see around the world.

The travel industry has seen a lot of changes recently when it comes to business and leisure travel. What do you see as the biggest change in the industry within the past 5-10 years?

For years it seemed that the Internet was going to dictate consumer purchasing habits and it presented a whole generation of “do it yourself” travelers. However, over the past 5 years, we are seeing a shift back to travelers asking for expert advice and planning. In a world of big data, travelers are feeling lost in the endless stream of options presented to them by the Internet. Today’s traveler doesn’t have time to sift through it all. By working with us, we take time to understand what travelers want and what suits their needs; quickly presenting personalized options that exceed their expectations, and which cannot be found online.

How did you become interested in the luxury travel business?

I like to jest that I started my company to support my husband’s expensive car habit. However, travel has been a passion of mine since I was a flight attendant for American Airlines right after graduating from college. It wasn’t until I started working for a travel agency in Oxfordshire, England, that I truly felt I had found my calling. My husband was a young officer in the USAF at the time and due to his position, we were fortunate to attend many “inner circle” events—the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, the Henley Regatta, Glyndebourne, and several world premier theatre openings in London during that time. My enchantment of that world led me to appreciate the luxurious lifestyle which became my expertise. After moving back to the U.S. and working with clients in the private equity and law firms, and then, due to some luck, coordinating a 30th wedding anniversary Europe trip for clients who’s guest list looked like the attendees at the Academy Awards, that was when I truly found my passion. With these clients I was able to work with the world’s best hotels and tour operators and use my creativity to add personalized touches to each element of the itinerary. I am fortunate to have developed key partnerships in over 75 countries around the world who act as an extension of my team in fulfilling any request, no matter how far fetched.

What has been your proudest accomplishment so far in your career?

I am very proud of the partnerships we have developed around the world, which enable us to deliver best in class experiences. Our partners ensure the safety and well-being of our clients, and are available at all times should the need arise. We have a world-wide reputation based on professionalism and integrity – key components in delivering excellence.

Who do you admire as a business mentor or role model?

I greatly admire Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. His experience paved the way for the creation of a new kind of hotel, focused solely on the guest by offering only exceptional quality. From superior design and finishes to deeply instilled personal service, the Four Seasons is a premier luxury hospitality company. I have been privileged to be an appointed travel board member for this organization since 2005 and it has been a privilege to learn from the best.

What is your favorite travel destination and why?

While I have many personal favorites, Kyoto, Japan, is among one of my new favorite destinations, with its ancient arts, meticulous detail, gracious and impeccable service and cleanliness.

Photo by Mike Hudson