PHOTO: Nashville Luxury Travel staff members celebrate their ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 16, 2018. // RUSSELL VANNOZZI
By RUSSELL VANNOZZI
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Monday afternoon in Brentwood, Williamson Inc. officially welcomed Nashville Luxury Travel to Williamson County.
The Westgate Commons office opened for business on Jan. 1, but Nashville Luxury Travel co-owner Jennifer Martin said the company wanted to get through the busy travel season before celebrating.
“Travel agents are very, very busy the first quarter of the year, almost like an accountant,” Martin said. “We have a lot of people planning trips after Christmas for spring break and for the summer.”
Martin and co-owner Leslie Horn were working separately and each had to hire assistants due to high demand at their personal travel businesses. That’s when the two friends got together and decided it was time to combine efforts, forming Nashville Luxury Travel, a boutique travel agency geared toward high-end clients and luxury experiences.
“You’re really on call 24/7,” Martin said. “We wanted to be an agency that was big enough to handle all the requests that came in.”
There was a time when it appeared that travel agencies were a thing of the past. The evolution of the Internet allowed people to plan their own vacations, book reservations, rent cars and avoid paying fees to an agency.
In 2013, CNN reported that the U.S. was down to 13,000 travel retail locations – a drop of more than 20,000 locations from the peak of 34,000 in the mid-1990s.
However, travel veterans Horn and Martin both saw the countereffect that virtual travel planning had on consumers.
“Every day we get a phone call of somebody saying, ‘oh my God, I cannot do this anymore,’” Horn said. “There’s too many reviews and confusion online. (Some) people also don’t want to put their credit cards in the computer.”
NLT typically plans four and five-star travel accommodations. However, Horn noted that “luxury” can take on different meanings.
“Luxury can mean an expensive trip with high-end travel, or it can mean just a well-put together (and memorable) experience,” Horn said. “We aren’t going to turn anyone away. If someone wants a smaller trip, we have people in our office that can make that happen.”
Horn said the big advantage of using a travel agency is the peace of mind that comes with having accommodations well-arranged ahead of time.
“We take the hassle out of travel and give people their time back,” she said.
The company currently has a total of seven employees, but Martin said NLT eventually hopes to grow to 12. It is affiliated with Travel Experts and Virtuoso, which offers extra perks to customers.
Martin also said the firm hopes to one day offer group tours led by NLT guides. For now, the small staff is staying busy planning all types of trips for Nashville-area residents.
“With the economy doing well, people are looking to plan family and multi-generational trips,” Horn said. “We can plan a trip anywhere. If we have to look it up, we’ll find it.”