Creating and booking a tailor-made holiday to long-haul destinations ranging from India to South Africa just got easier thanks to new travel brand, Meraki Travel.
Meraki Travel, launched today, is part of DER Touristik UK, also the parent company of Kuoni and specialist brands Carrier, Kirker, CV Villas and Voyage Jules Verne.
The brand is a new concept for tailor-made travel and differs from anything else currently available, making complex tailor-made trips easy and fun to plan, customise and then book online.
The main thing that makes Meraki Travel different is the online itinerary builder, which has been designed to be simple and intuitive with dynamic functionality which allows people to customise a base itinerary.
India is the first destination to launch from Meraki Travel. Other destinations set to launch over the next few months will include South Africa, Kenya & Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Canada and China, with more coming in 2019.
The hotels and experiences have all been carefully curated by the Meraki Travel team in partnership with its destination management companies. In India, the accommodation starts from three-star hotels to character properties and premium and luxury hotels (or in some cases palaces).
There are over 1,200 different variations for India alone, with live pricing changes as the customer goes through the itinerary builder and makes selections. Itineraries can be saved, shared and paid for securely online and travel documents will be saved in the My Meraki section of the site.
Man of the hour
Meraki Travel is headed by Matt Hodgson, who joined DER Touristik UK earlier this year to lead the business and has more than 20 years’ experience in tailor-made travel having worked for Trailfinders, Travel Nation and the British Exploration Society in commercial, sales and strategic development roles.
Reporting to Derek Jones, CEO DER Touristik UK, Matt leads a team of eight and will be based in new offices in High Street Kensington.
The name Meraki [Murr-ahh-key] is a Greek word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.
“A completely new approach to tailor-made travel”
“This is a completely new approach to tailor-made travel and something quite different from anything currently available and we know there is a gap in the market for what we’re creating,” said Derek Jones.
“Creating a tailor-made trip purely online is still a remarkably tricky thing to do, mainly as there are so many elements to get right from the flights, to the hotels, transfers and experiences. Many online brands still direct people to pick up the phone when it comes to booking.”
“Confidence to book bigger ticket items online is growing”
“Yet we know there are customers who, presented with a basic structure, will happily tweak and customise something to their needs. If you look at brands like made.com they’ve made customising things like sofas simple and easy to do by allowing people to choose their model, size, budget, fabrics and we know that confidence to book bigger ticket items online is growing amongst a particular customer base.”
The brand sits separately from Kuoni, which will continue to offer a complete worldwide tailor-made travel collection with a focus on premium hotels, resorts and experiences with quality service throughout.
Yet Meraki benefits from being part of an established travel group, sharing destination management companies who are able to deliver a brilliant guest-experience in the countries they’re travelling to.
“Aim is to have six destinations ready to book”
Derek Jones added: “Meraki signals our ambitious plans to grow the DER Touristik group, which is why we have put a completely separate team in place to lead it. We’re appealing to customers who don’t know or currently consider the Kuoni brand or our other specialist businesses.”
“We’re committed to identifying new opportunities, looking forward at the trends in travel and delivering an outstanding experience when we find something we know fits our vision.”
Matt Hodgson, general manager, Meraki Travel, said: “This has been many months in the making and a concept which we think people are going to love. Having worked in tailor-made travel for the past two decades I know we’ve got a concept that’s got a clear space in the travel market — by the end of the year our aim is to have six destinations ready to book.”
The brand will have a separate marketing team and investment is being made in making the brand highly visible, primarily with a creative digital campaign.