At Protected Trust Services (PTS) we pride ourselves on providing expert support to travel businesses that we trust, ensuring that all PTS members are great, independent businesses that their consumers can have confidence in. One of these fantastic members of PTS is the luxury travel agency, Wonderluxe Travel, founded and run by one of the ‘Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs’ in the UK, Sheena Sumner. As a business established by an expert and looking to expand on an independent basis but with the supportive foundation of a business like PTS, Wonderluxe Travel is a prime example of the ambitious PTS members we support.
Who Are Wonderluxe Travel?
Wonderluxe Travel was established in April 2019 as a bespoke and tailormade luxury travel business. Many travel businesses across the UK today are established by existing travel experts and those with a life-long passion for travel. Only 10 months before the Covid-19 pandemic, Sheena Sumner broke her 17-year-long hiatus from working in the travel industry to become an industry specialist in the luxury travel she aspired to sell.
“It was always my ethos and idea to specialise in tailor-made and bespoke travel, very much geared towards the luxury end of the market. It’s a subject that I like to talk about a lot because, how does one define luxury?” Sheena said. “So, it’s always been a case of never being discriminative against a client’s budget. As long as the client’s budget and their expectation correlate, we can work with multi-level budgets, ranging from your bucket and spade all the way up to clients that are looking to send spends six figures and above.”
Though Sheena investigated potential franchising options for Wonderluxe Travel and approached large companies, many of these options did not allow the business the opportunities to expand that she was looking for. “I did about three years of soul-searching thinking, should I take this risk to leave my career behind and start a travel agency?” Sheena stated, “When I was looking to leave my previous career behind, I did look at potentially franchising initially and I approached a couple of the bigger companies in the market for franchises but I soon realised because I wanted to grow a team, expand the business, and maybe look at international opportunities further down the line, franchising just would never have worked for me. I came across PTS, and it just seemed like exactly what I was looking for.”
Having established Wonderluxe Travel and having become a member of PTS all in 2019, in 2023 Sheena is now running a travel agency with a growing team, goals to branch out to establish a high-street store, that is in the “very, very early stages of going live with an affiliate scheme and looking to actually bring in self-employed agents to sell under the Wonderluxe umbrella.”
As an inclusive luxury travel experience, Wonderluxe Travel puts the intent of bespoke and tailormade travel at the forefront of everything it does. No matter the client, they pride themselves on an equal service for all clients that delves into finding the perfect holiday for each client’s needs, with a free-of-charge, integrated concierge service so that their clients have everything taken care of from the moment they book to when they arrive back home after a fantastic holiday.
Wonderluxe has built long-lasting relationships with some of their core suppliers to fully ensure, “that [they’re] giving that client that five-star level of service and [they] keep those clients coming back for more.”
As a keen traveller herself, Sheena said, “I’ve been really, really fortunate to have been able to travel very extensively the last couple of years even in 2020, 2021, and particularly last year. Myself and the team members, we all have our own strengths and specific destinations that we just love to sell and primarily, and mine has always been Southeast Asia.
“Asia is so diverse. I know it well. It is my favourite continent to sell by far. I’d say one of my favourite places that I’ve been to personally to date is a resort which is in the middle of the Indonesian ocean. It’s six self-contained islands called the Banwa resort. And I would say arguably, it’s one of the nicest places that I’ve ever been to.”
Sheena Sumner has also been named one of the Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch by Natwest and The Telegraph, a great achievement and fantastic opportunity that has opened several doors to expansion in the near future. “There’s been some great exposure that’s come off the back of it via recognition from both NatWest and The Telegraph. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the other 99 winners. I’m in the process of reaching out to the other winners as well to look at doing introductions, building networks, and potential collaborative opportunities as well.
“The support that I’ve received from NatWest bank has been nothing other than phenomenal. They’ve offered coaching opportunities. I’m just about to be interviewed to go on to the NatWest entrepreneur accelerator programme. They’re going to give me a lot of help and guidance in terms of taking the business to the next level and further scaling. I’ve now got access to people that I just wouldn’t have had access to before. I think this is just the beginning,” Sheena said.
Why Did Wonderluxe Travel Become a PTS Member?
As a continuously growing and expanding travel agency, Wonderluxe Travel is a thriving and independent travel business that has survived the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to grow through the passion of its team and the core belief in providing excellent bespoke service no matter the needs of the client.
The ability to expand and grow at the rate she chooses has always been a key point for Sheena. When the business was established in 2019, the goal to build a team, expand, and grow relationships with trusted suppliers and other businesses was already a part of the destination for Wonderluxe. When looking for a support method for the business, finding this independence wasn’t something that Sheena could find in franchising options.
This is where the flexibility provided by Protected Trust Services (PTS) became a key asset in providing expert support and a sturdy foundation without limiting the business’s or Sheena’s freedom in building the travel agency she loved.
“It was the flexibility,” Sheena said, “Knowing that I will be completely independent in terms of trading as an independent travel agency. I am aware of all the consortia out there that might be similar, but with PTS there’s no red tape: we can use whatever suppliers that we choose, there is the due diligence that needs to be carried out to ensure that it’s safe to use that specific supplier, but we’re not duty bound to use the suppliers that PTS have very kindly gone out and orchestrated the contracts with.
“The systems are simplistic, the turnaround on everything is great, the team have always been fantastic from day one. In a lot of instances, it’s not until something goes wrong that you realise the type of support system that you’ve got, and in the pandemic, the PTS team were just absolutely phenomenal.
“I never have any complaints and when I do get contacted on occasion by potential new members I never have a bad thing to say because there’s nothing bad to say.”
So, if you’d like to learn more about how your consumers’ monies are protected with Protected Trust Services (PTS) and how we support excellent travel businesses, check out our pages. Or you can get in touch with the lovely PTS team by calling 0207 190 9988 or emailing us at email@example.com.