Last Word: Annalise Andrews, Butterfield & Robinson private trip designer

Butterfield & Robinson’s private trip designer Annalise Andrews was recently appointed as the main sales contact for the premier active travel company in Australia. The luxury travel expert is responsible for creating unique itineraries focused on activity, adventure and cultural immersion for travellers wishing to experience Australia to its fullest.

Having worked with Butterfield & Robinson for more than 25 years, Annalise has travelled extensively, sharing her knowledge, expertise and passion for travel with the luxury tour operator’s clients along the way.

In her new role as the main point of contact for Butter & Robinson for Australia, Annalise will be on hand to assist travellers and travel agents alike, referring them to the company’s regional experts around the world and streamlining the booking process.

Here, we chat to Annalise about her exciting career path and get her top travel picks for 2018.

Great Walks of Australia, Schouten Island, Freycinet Experience Walk, Butterfield & Robinson

What is the Butterfield & Robinson difference?
I would say that the real difference with B&R is the genuine local flavour that we bring into each and every one of our trips. We stand out as a travel company, as we have experts scattered throughout the world who know the ins and outs of their specific regions. There are people like me, who have worked for B&R and in most cases, have guided trips for a long time so we know our travellers well.  We have the connections that can make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’re really just a collective of passionate people, who love showing off the areas of the world that excite us the most.

Who is your customer and what are they looking for?
Our travellers are slightly older, with a mid-age around 52-54 years old, are affluent and have an appreciation for the finer elements of their travels. They are generally wealthy enough to travel how and where they’d like, but they want to take things slowly, to get to know an area and its people. They also want to bring some activity and energy into their travel. They’re not passive travellers – they want to engage in the journey.

What does a private trip designer do – what makes them successful and what is the biggest challenge?
In our case, a private trip designer is someone who really listens to what the traveller wants. Their success is often determined by their past experience as a B&R guide, as they know how to cater to a pared down, private group setting when designing the trip. The challenge lies in making sure that the design of the trip ensures that travellers feel both independent and well-supported on an adventure where the dynamics can change from day-to-day.

How does working with a trip designer enhance the travel experience?
It’s all about personalisation. Working with a trip designer means that you’re not simply following an itinerary that everyone else in the world is. Instead, you’re getting an itinerary that is specifically tailored to your preferences, interests, timing and budget. The trip designer can use their connections and imagination to bring in elements that are really going to make each trip unique, for every group or traveller.

Can you give us a personal example or highlight?
I was looking after a really lovely couple from the US who were visiting Sydney for a speaking engagement, and wanted to use the opportunity to see Australia. He was a very keen swimmer, and had been very competitive at a younger age. In Hobart, I arranged for him to meet up with a fabulous local we work with who also happens to be a very keen and competent swimmer, who swims every morning with the Hobart Masters Swimmers. It might seem like a small thing, but to have a local pick you up for an early morning swim with the local group, and then share breakfast and stories with you afterwards, these are the small moments that make a trip much more personal and memorable.

How do you see social media influencing the way people travel?
Social media is opening up the world and bringing exposure to all sorts of destinations and experiences. It’s giving people ideas and inspiration. The post-trip slideshows in our homes have been replaced by in-the-moment sharing with a wider, sometimes unknown audience.
My only fear is that in some ways, it’s also reducing the experiences to a ‘snapshot’ of what they really could be. There’s pressure to isolate the experience into the perfect take-away. That’s fine, as long as you still take the opportunity to slow down and savour the entirety of what’s going on around you. Live in the moment before it passes!

What is your favourite travel memory?
My favourite travel memories often come back to experiences and connections with people, so again they can just be small, simple moments.
In Australia, I’ve loved getting out to some of the more remote corners – areas like Mount Borradaile in the Northern Territory to see the rock art and the spectacular birdlife, or Cape York, where I watched the total solar eclipse with my family on a rocky outcrop in the middle of nowhere.
In Europe, it’s the little moments on our trips – spending the day cycling along a quiet country road in Tuscany, then stopping off to learn how to make pasta with a beautiful Italian mama. Perfecto!

What are your must-haves when you travel?
I’m not much of a gear-freak, so I don’t travel with a lot. I try to keep it as minimal as I can – though there always seems to be clothes and shoes in my bag that never see the light of day! Without question though, the most important thing to bring along is a sense of openness to what’s out there, and an understanding that we all see things differently.

What are your top Butterfield & Robinson travel picks for 2018?
Not that I’m biased, but of course Australia is at the top of my list. A lot of our North American travellers have Australia at the top of their ‘aspirational travel’ list, but getting them on the plane to actually come here is the tricky part. I’m actually on holiday with my husband and two young kids as I write this, and if my American clients could see the view I have before me, at anchor on a bareboat catamaran in a quiet bay in the Whitsundays in the Great Barrier Reef, I think they’d feel that Australia is worth the flight.

China Biking and India Walking are also two of the most exciting new trips for 2018 from Butterfield & Robinson. In China, travellers can discover the serene and spectacular landscape and ancient culture and India Walking offers the perfect mix of activity and restorative yoga in the mornings.

Our new private, ready-to-book departures across Canada offer the chance for couples, families and small groups to travel alone with local experts and experience the majesty of the Great North. I think these will really appeal to Australians, as we share that common love of space, nature and wilderness. Itineraries are available in British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland.

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