VeryFirstTo targets wealthy customers who crave novel experiences

|
On the 17-day Indian Royal Tour, travelers get to rub elbows with the likes of the Udaipur royal family.
On the 17-day Indian Royal Tour, travelers get to rub elbows with the likes of the Udaipur royal family.

Want to dine at every Michelin three-starred restaurant in the world? That can be arranged for a cool $235,507.

How about visiting the world's most famous filming locations, from New York to Jordan to Australia, over the course of three months? That's doable, too: $256,211.

Those experiences and more like them are available from VeryFirstTo, a service that aggregates luxury products and experiences to get them in the hands of clients whom founder Marcel Knobil calls "early adopters." The travel products are arranged with and through tour operators, travel agencies and others in the industry who partner with VeryFirstTo to curate unique experiences.

According to Knobil, the brands with which his London-based company works want to reach these early adopters.

"First, this audience has an insatiable appetite to buy things," he said. "Second, they're not price-sensitive. They don't ask how much it is. They ask, 'When can I have it?' or, 'When can I do it?' Most importantly, especially in the age of social media, they really influence those around them."

That is why brands are partnering with Knobil's company. And VeryFirstTo earns commission on the products it packages and sells, monetizing the operation.

The H.R. Giger Bar in Gruyeres, Switzerland, is one of the stops on VeryFirstTo's "World's Most Alluring Secret Bars" trip.
The H.R. Giger Bar in Gruyeres, Switzerland, is one of the stops on VeryFirstTo's "World's Most Alluring Secret Bars" trip.

Currently, VeryFirstTo has more than 199,000 registered members, predominantly consumers seeking luxury products. While members come from around the globe, they are heavily concentrated in the U.S., Knobil said. Anyone can become a member by entering an email address at VeryFirstTo.com.

VeryFirstTo's travel offerings come from a mix of sources. In some cases, a tour operator or agency approaches the company with a unique idea or experience. In others, VeryFirstTo's staff (four primary team members, with a number of consultants) dreams up scenarios and seeks out industry partners to make them happen. The hallmark of all of its travel products, Knobil said, is that they are "truly remarkable" experiences.

For example, VeryFirstTo is featuring a trip to the "World's 10 Most Photogenic Settings in One Vacation" with cameras included. The cost of the trip is $93,167, and includes stops in Indonesia, French Polynesia, the U.S., Australia, Vietnam, Nepal, Jordan, Myanmar, Brazil and Chile.

Participants will also get four cameras to use along the way. VeryFirstTo partnered with camera makers to provide the equipment and with London-based travel agency Hurlingham Travel, which is facilitating all associated travel. VeryFirstTo promises, at minimum, business class flights and junior class suites where available as well as airport transfers.

Sometimes, trips are arranged around timely events, such as "The Ultimate Christmas Trip" last December. For $78,990, it took participants to London, New York, Walt Disney World, Colombia, Paris, Singapore, Monte Carlo and Vienna, stopping at famously decorated hotels and Christmas events along the way. Hurlingham Travel also facilitated travel for that offering.

Knobil admitted that the travel is complex to arrange, but he said VeryFirstTo picks the partners best placed to deliver experiences. For example, in offering a trip built around spending time with royalty in India, the company partnered with a tour operator based there.

"When you're coming up with truly exceptional travel -- in every meaning of the word, it's never been done before -- you have to recognize you're going to have very, very challenging organizational tasks," he said. "But we feel it's worthwhile if the goal is a truly remarkable travel experience."

VeryFirstTo does not offer agents commission, but if they are interested in booking one of its products for a client, Knobil said the company would be open to the idea of a commission.

"It's actually not something that we've done, but it's certainly worth considering," he said.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI