The Travel Attaché is a luxury lifestyle brand making waves in the Gulf. Founder Liam Wholey tells StartUp about his journey and how he managed to establish the business in a niche market
Luxurious living is something that has become synonymous with the UAE.
The affluent nation, full of high net worth individuals with disposable incomes and a penchant for the finer things in life, has nurtured the growth of sumptuous spas, distinguished dining establishments, and beautiful boutiques.
But the thirst for luxury does not end there. Residents in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, across the Gulf, Middle East and beyond are now looking to take their high end living to the next level; through travel.
Seeing that this demand for an exclusive, personalised travel service was not being met in the region, Liam Wholey came up with The Travel Attaché, a luxury travel company which aims to offer unique experiences tailored to each and every customer.
“We are high end, niche, luxury, bespoke travel,” he explains of the company which launched last year. “We work hard to give people experiences that they will remember forever.
“Anything you want, come to us and ask us.”
If anybody should know a thing or two about providing luxury experiences, it is Wholey, with many years’ experience in the high end, exclusive market.
He’s also spent a lot of time around start-up businesses, which eventually drove him to set up his own company.
“I’ve always been involved in start-ups,” he says. “I was the third person to join [restaurant booking website] Toptable, and was there for a few years. But when I had my 30th birthday I realised I wasn’t going to get to where I wanted to be with them.
“I did some freelance work for various companies in the restaurant world, and eventually Aaron Simpson of Quintessentially approached me.”
Quintessentially is a members-only concierge service, covering all lifestyle sectors and offering customers exclusive experiences and VIP treatment in whatever way they ask of the company.
Simpson co-founded it in 2000, and had been keen to recruit Wholey to the team.
“He had tried to poach me for a few jobs, and when he came to me this final time, he explained he wanted to start up a new part to the company. It was Quintessentially Publishing, within Quintessentially, publishing luxury books on hotels, watches, and so on.
“I ran that for four years and we had five titles by the time I left. It was a great business but I felt I had to do something different. So I asked Aaron what else he had in the company, and he said “Dubai”. So here we are.”
Wholey took over Quintessentially Dubai, which he admits “needed a lot of work” to bring it up to the level of other Quintessentially arms, and then moved on to bigger projects.
“After about eight months I was asked to look after Africa, so I grew that part of the business and then they asked me to look after the Middle East, which was huge.
“I gave the brand a lot and enjoyed my time there, but it was the same pattern – I thought I could do more.”
This entrepreneurial spirit drove Wholey to look into business he could start himself, and led him to the offices of some very influential people.
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