Inside Luxury Travel has become one of the most famous luxury travel programmes in the world – why – well, simply in my view due to the drive, stamina, style and ambition of one man, Varun Sharma.
We caught up with Varun when filming one of our clients, Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine near Valladolid in Spain and asked him to explain the success of his show and his key ingredients for a good broadcast.
What do you look for in a suitable candidate for filming?
Well, firstly I try to visit all the properties I feature. For me, the over-riding moniker in our industry is “Service is King”. I sit in hotel reception areas and watch interactions between guests and staff – now, that’s the real test. I’m generally looking for an experience rather than just a luxurious product – and the destination has to have something to offer too. Important is also the General Manager, who must have a positive energy & personality too.
What makes a good broadcast?
Diversity. The property has to be a jack of all trades. The more effort a hotel puts into making the schedule work and indeed interesting, the more it will get out of it. The property needs flexibility too. Involving all the staff is a key element – making them feel a part of the show really makes a positive programme.
I see the hotel as a body, which is connected to the brain and heart of the operation by the GM. The GM must command respect but still be able to relate to the bellboy the same way as their Director of Sales and Marketing or indeed an A-list celebrity.
How difficult has it been to achieve the success you now have?
Success is still to come. My job has taken over my life. I am travelling over 200 days a year – I fly alone, sleep alone, eat alone – sometimes it’s horrendously lonely.
But … it has been worth it. Everything will work out in the end for me! That I am sure …
People live their lives vicariously through my travels and the occasional message to me from a viewer that has followed in my travelling footsteps makes it worthwhile.
Why, in your opinion, are there so few travel shows in the UK now, given travel is so popular?
The cost – it is prohibitive. If you look at the television schedules, programmers believe that viewers want cheap shows that are intent on finding the worst in things – so inundate us with shows like Holiday Hell. I’m not going to live in a negative world – I want to be an inspiration rather than a doom-monger.
What makes a successful presenter?
Not spreading yourself too thin – I personally don’t do anything that is not travel-related.
Doing the research.
Trust between interviewer and interviewee … so, so important
What valuable lessons have you learnt along the way?
People should travel to broaden their minds and learn what the world is about. Even if it to the next county!
It’s the best education that a person can get. Over the past ten years, I’ve learnt something nearly every hour of every day. Travel should be on the national curriculum.
Your biggest challenge?
Convincing hoteliers the importance of the broadcast media and that it’s worth much, much more than a print article.
In many instances, marketing budgets are overseen by people who are out of touch with what’s happening today.
In the near future, ALL magazines and newspapers will be on-line and users will want high quality video footage not touched-up photographs!
What makes you continue doing this job?
Where else can you swim with the Great White Sharks & fly in a fighter-jet one day and then help out in an orphanage the next?
I have enjoyed too many Michelin-starred meals, have drunk some of the most expensive wines in the world, I’ve seen the world by helicopter, I have experienced a wild tiger walk right past me, I have bathed with an elephant, dived with a seal and have sat on Gandhi’s bedroom floor.
It’s the greatest job in the world.
Contributor: Sue Lowry
Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine is a client of Magellan PR. Follow them on twitter: @LeDomaineHotel and on Facebook/Abadiaretuertaledomaine.
Varun Sharma and Inside Luxury Travel is on twitter: @insideluxury /on Facebook: InsideLuxTravel
Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+: Sue Lowry & MagellanPR / on YouTube: MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry. For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com. Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.