Interview with Andrew Dunn, founder of travel concierge company ‘Scott Dunn’
All it takes is one phone call to experts such as Scott Dunn, who have now expanded to Singapore, to plan your very own unforgettable holiday
Where most see chaos and mayhem ensuing, travel concierges are able to establish some calm and order while recognising opportunities to showcase their problem-solving skills, all to provide clients with unforgettable holiday experiences. Thanks to experts like ‘Scott Dunn’, the idea of planning a stress-free holiday in Singapore is now a reality. From humble beginnings, Andrew Dunn has now built a company that is highly sought after for its impeccable service and expertise. Branching out into Singapore, the company now brings the service to Asia and we had the opportunity to sit down with the man behind the brand to find out more about what makes Scott Dunn the go to travel concierge and where we should head to for our next well-deserved holiday.
How did Scott Dunn come about? Tell us how it all started!
The story began in 1986 when I had the great idea to do ski holidays better. Having been out to visit my sister on her ski season I caught ‘the ski bug’. I toyed with the idea of calling my ski company ‘Ski Skint’ but after a conversation with my wise Grandma she told me ‘Andrew, people will pay to have the very best’ and hence we decided on the name Scott Dunn, encompassing both my Father’s and Grandfather’s names. With a £5K loan and a basement office in London, I rented two chalets in Champery in Switzerland and so began Scott Dunn.
What makes Scott Dunn different from other travel concierges?
Above all, it is service. We truly believe ours is different and better than anyone else’s, whether that’s booking a dream holiday or skiing with us in one of our fully staffed chalets or looking after your children in one of our Scott Dunn kids clubs. I’ve always insisted we have guests, not customers — by booking with us, we personally look after you and feel obligated to take care of you. Fundamentally, we believe we can’t sell the right holiday unless we understand you and your travel companions. We actually won’t take a booking without speaking to you on the phone. In fact, in this digital age, we stand out by actively discouraging communication by email and make it difficult to enquire with us online.
What is the most extravagant itinerary that Scott Dunn has ever planned?
There are times in life, which call for a huge celebration or a real blow-out holiday: be it a birthday, an anniversary or ticking off that dream trip you’ve always wanted to do. This is where we come in. Our travel consultants relish the opportunity to plan something seriously special for our guests, giving them the chance to really show off their expertise. Privacy is of the utmost importance to us so whilst we love talking about our holidays when it comes to the most extravagant we have planned, we don’t like to divulge too many details. However, a recent “Seriously Special 50th Birthday” celebration we organised was at the stunning Aman Venice. A party of 20 flew out in a private jet for a private New Year’s Eve Venetian Masked Ball. We also flew in hand painted masks, as well as retro Polaroid cameras for guests to see in the New Year in ultimate style.
Why expand to Singapore?
We chose to expand to Singapore for a number of reasons: firstly, the ease of Singapore being English speaking. It also offers a very business friendly environment and is in the perfect time zone to be able to offer 24-hour coverage with our San Diego and London offices. Plus there’s a local market with a huge appetite for luxury travel.
What are the top three destinations of all time?
Africa has a certain magic and mystery about it that always keeps you coming back for more. Unforgettable safaris in the Masai Mara, the breath-taking landscapes of Ethiopia, the pristine beaches of Mozambique and the rugged hills of the South African Winelands — Africa has something to offer everyone whether it is your first time or your thirty-first.
The Maldives Archipelago’s expansive cluster of islands surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean is a paradise that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. What’s more the Maldives combines perfectly with Sri Lanka, India, Oman and Dubai.
There is so much to love about New Zealand. Soaring mountains, ancient glaciers, huge forests, unique wildlife and superb beaches make it a favourite with outdoor lovers — all served up of course with a delicious glass of wine from the New World. It really is one of the most diverse and exciting holiday destinations in the world.
What is the Scott Dunn service? How does booking with Scott Dunn work?
As previously mentioned service is of the utmost importance to us. Upon enquiring with Scott Dunn, a travel consultant will make an initial discovery call to determine the guest’s requirements. In some instances, guests might not know where to start, which is where our specialists come in to help inspire. We build a guest’s holiday around what they want, taking the time to understand what our guests enjoy so we can create the perfect holiday for them. Our specialists will then go away and start creating the guest’s tailor-made itinerary, drawing from their own first-hand knowledge having visited all the places we sell so know the properties and local area inside out. An itinerary will be sent to the guest for discussion. Guests can then make as many amends to their itinerary, whether that be changing a hotel, adding in an experience or pre-booking spa treatments, our consultants will continue to work with the guest until the perfect itinerary has been created. Three weeks prior to departure guests will receive their beautifully presented documents. Guests can trust us, not only to tailor the right holiday for them but to look after them from the moment they speak to one of our specialists, until after they have returned home. No matter what happens, we will be there every step of the way.
Where are people going this year, and what are they doing in these destinations?
Bhutan is one of the most unspoilt countries on earth and is slowly opening itself up to tourism. Guests who are looking for a really authentic destination are heading here for a once in a lifetime experience before the crowds descend. Guests are visiting time-old Buddhist communities and trekking up to monasteries such as the infamous Tiger’s Nest. Walking through Bhutan’s stunning network of ancient walking trails, cycling up the Pho Chhu River and visiting local markets, immersing themselves in the local culture.
This year Canada celebrates 150 years of the Confederation which has seen an increased in guests enquiries wanting to experience the spectacular National Parks. As part of the celebrations all National Parks are free of charge for 2017, so it’s definitely the year to be discovering this awe-inspiring country.
Combining world-class skiing with stunning landscapes and culture, skiing in Japan has never been so popular. Blessed with incredible snowfall so many people are flocking to Niseko for the ultimate powder experience.
With direct flights from Singapore to Muscat in Oman with Oman Air more and more guests are seeing it as a viable option. We’re talking tented camps, sand dunes, amazing mountains and a stunning coastline. Salalah is one of our hot new destinations which has stunning beaches as well as the new luxury Anantara Al Baleed Resort.
What do you think contributed to the success of Scott Dunn?
As a company we have continued to evolve with the times, listening to what our guests want and adapting to meet their requirements. Since 1986 when all we had was two ski chalets we’ve gone on to offer everything from fully staffed chalets in the Alps and villas in the Med, to children’s clubs, honeymoons and once in a lifetime adventures all over the world. Our portfolio of properties also covers all styles — from well-known leading hotels to lesser known boutique hotels, so we have something for everyone and all tastes. By continuing to develop the Scott Dunn brand our guest lifecycle has gone full circle. Where we might have planned a guests honeymoon, we’ve then gone on to plan their first family holiday and so on. On top of this, it’s the level of service we provide and attention to detail that keeps our guests coming back to Scott Dunn.
Is there anything that you won’t/can’t do for clients?
If it’s within our capabilities we will go the extra mile for our guests. Of course, there are some instances where we might have to draw the line if the request means putting our staff at risk. However, we have had requests such as moving a child’s bed and their mothers running machine from their home in the UK to one of our villas in Mallorca, which we’ve happily done. We’ve also organised for a grand piano flown out to Mauritius, a ski lesson with an Olympian and Mexican themed party in one of our ski chalets.
What are some of the key travel trends for 2017-2018?
Yachting and sailing adventures are becoming more accessible and an affordable option for larger families or groups travelling.
The need for unique experiences as it’s these that will start to set guests holidays apart
Digital detoxes — escaping to somewhere with no wifi to truly be able to get away from it all. Teaching children that they won’t need the internet to have fun!
Last chance travel — Global warming is a serious issue that is affecting some of the world’s most iconic sights. Seeing the Great Barrier Reef before it recedes, visiting Antarctica to see polar bears before temperatures increase, and visiting Venice before the sea level rises.