Have you ever dreamed of driving a Ferrari through the streets of Rome? Or maybe you’d love to take a helicopter flight into a volcano in Iceland, the wild land of fire and ice. How about being delivered to your destination, a German castle, by horse-drawn carriage; or participating in falconry and herding dog demonstrations in the Cotswolds of England?
Lindsey Prumers is in the business of making dreams like these a reality. For the past decade, she has worked to build her Post Falls business, All Travel Guru, into a successful brand of designing leisure travel packages, with a focus on Europe.
“It’s my entire passion,” Prumers says matter-of-factly when asked about her love of the travel industry.
The native of Oxford, England decided to start out on her own as an independent designer in 2008 after leaving a local agency she had been with. Working out of her basement, she found she was not lacking in leads and prospective clients — only time. Eventually she teamed up with some former co-workers to avoid turning away and delaying business, and started to build her team in the basement offices, forming an LLC in 2010.
Fast forward to 2016, and she purchased a building in Post Falls with a reception area and offices. Today, 10 employees and five independent contractors work together to design experiences of a lifetime for All Travel Guru.
“It just snowballed from then,” she explained. “I was blessed and in the right place at the right time. I had lots of referrals from previous clients and was referred to a company that partners with travel agents for leads, so it all just fell into place,” said Prumers.
All Travel Guru has been fortunate enough to give back with the success they have seen, like sponsoring local sports teams and donating luxury travel packages for raffle prizes.
“I’m really big on karma,” said Prumers. “I think that’s what helps bring success to our company is we are not greedy and we give back. We are very grateful and so we like to bless other people because we have had the fortune of being blessed with a successful business and brilliant people that work for us, so it’s our way of showing gratitude to the world.”
All Travel Guru provides an advantage over typical travel agencies or personally booking online through sites like Expedia or Travelocity. Clients can expect touches like a private driver waiting at the airport to personally deliver them to their hotel, a handshake from the hotel managers upon arrival, and touches like wine or flowers waiting in their rooms. But these people, the tour guides, hotel staff, and even booking agents for airlines aren’t strangers. Prumers and her team spend countless hours networking at different conferences and traveling to the locations and staying at the hotels: seeing where they are located and what amenities are nearby, checking out the rooms and personally meeting and creating relationships with partners across the globe. Being part of a network called Virtuoso and the Travel Society helps to create and foster these opportunities.
“We really try to give a white glove service,” said Ryan Villa, operations manager and Prumers’ son. “We’re always taking care of our clients throughout. We’re checking in on the trip, and at every hotel they are checking into they get a little note from us so they know that we’re behind the scenes, and that really is the difference.
“The major thing about booking through a reputable company is you have someone to contact; you have someone who is in control of your bookings. If there’s any problem you have someone to call who’s going to be able to take care of you throughout. With these companies online they are just faceless corporations; you have no one, or really long wait lines and you’ll never get anywhere.”
“Plus they source out their customer service, so they don’t have any control over the people they are using for the services,” added Leanne Villa, Ryan’s sister and a travel designer with the company. “We have direct contact with the service providers, so any issue is resolvable by us and we take the initiative and action instantly. Whenever we have people traveling we are on call, so even if it’s the middle of the night and they have any kind of emergency, they can contact us. We also have an emergency line for flights.”
“That’s another major thing,” said Ryan. “When it comes to airfare, if your flight gets canceled and you booked on a website, there’s no one to call. You’re at the mercy of the airline. Where if you booked through us, we can go on and find a different route to get you going.”
They reminisced about a recent instance where a husband and wife were getting ready to take off in their first class seats, but the wife got bumped from the flight for an airline employee. The husband, naturally, wanted to travel first-class and wanted to sit by his wife. Their travel designer was able to get hold of their own point of contact within the airline and resolve the issue. Unfortunately, another passenger who did not have the All Travel Guru advantage ended up getting bumped instead.
Once upon a time, tourism entailed sightseeing. But today, travel is all about the experiences.
“Demographics have changed things. Years ago people would just go somewhere and stay in a hotel and have dinner,” Ryan said. “Now most people are looking for the experiences, especially with the millennials. That’s what they want to spend their money on. Everyone is looking for those unique pictures to put on their social media, so part of our job is trying to provide those unique experiences that not everyone is going to have the opportunity to have.”
One of the more popular experiences Prumers described is at Cinque Terre, meaning “five villages,” in the Italian Riviera. Terraced above the sea, colorful buildings are situated high along a rugged cliffline. All Travel Guru has a partnership with a couple who live there; retired English professors. They are foodies themselves, and they open their home to tourists to enjoy a wonderful, homemade, five-course meal paired with appropriate wines while overlooking the sea from their balcony.
“The sky’s the limit, and there are not many fields out there where you’re in the business of making dreams come true, but that’s really what it is,” said Leanne.
Prumers explained why travel is something everyone should consider.
“Travel expands the mind, and through travel it creates that mental capacity to think outside the box,” she said. “It stimulates creativity, and it’s surprising, but as soon as somebody travels and they come back, they have a whole new concept on life, because that’s what travel does.”