Jane Borman and Michelle Novoa

Jane Borman and Michelle Novoa are travel designers, Borman a luxury travel designer and Novoa a corporate travel designer. They create hyper-personalized trips for their affluent clients.

Scottsdale’s Jane Borman visited 83 countries, all seven continents and this year celebrates 25 years of traveling more than 150 days every year – all for work.

Borman is a luxury travel designer – not to be confused with a travel agent – and she also happens to be celebrating another milestone this year with the national Travel Experts network of which she’s a top producer: its 30th anniversary. 

“Our independent contractors continue to raise the bar in the industry, and the Travel Experts team is honored to accept these awards on their behalf,” said Travel Experts Founder and President Susan Ferrell. “We continue to attract the most passionate and hard-working independent advisors in luxury travel today.”

Travel Experts is a North Carolina-based host agency for independent luxury travel advisors, boasting combined sales of nearly $400 million.

Borman is one of more than 400 advisors who make up the Travel Experts team of independent contractors. 

Borman began her career in 1994 as a travel director for Maritz Travel and became a travel agent in 2006, eventually working her way up to her current position as a luxury travel designer. 

“The travel agent term is an outdated term,” Borman said. “If you’re looking at a travel agent today, they’re working in a call center. They’re fulfilling needs of someone walking in the door, but they’re not really designing something really amazing and special.”

That’s where Borman comes in.

Borman creates personalized travel experiences for her clients – or, as she puts it, she “make dream comes true.”

“What we’re really focusing now is hyper-personalization,” Borman said. “I do intensive research before I design their trips. I visit the location they’re going to prior to building the trip together.”

To design unique, exclusive travel packages, Borman not only relies on her personal experience traveling abroad and the relationships she forms while visiting new and popular destinations, but also the Virtuoso network of high-end travel companies work together to create customized vacations. 

“You can’t book direct and get that through just any travel agent. No, you have to be part of the Virtuoso network to have that relationship,” Borman said.

According to Michelle Novoa, corporate travel designer and experience design specialist at Maritz Travel, travel designers help cut through the confusion of planning the perfect trip.

“The internet is almost too confusing. There are so many people weighing in. You don’t know who those people are. You don’t know what their tastes are. They may travel once every five years and say, ‘Oh, this place is amazing.’ And if you were to believe them and try it out, you may be sorely disappointed,” Novoa said. 

Borman works with affluent clients, those who value time over money and crave to see the world.

“It’s never price-driven. It’s experience-driven,” Borman said. “It’s always exclusive [experiences], like booking castles and chalets in Switzerland, it can accommodate many people.”

Currently, Borman works with many multigenerational families – almost 50 percent of her business – and individuals.

“I may have a family of five, 10. I have a family of 30 I’ve worked with for the last eight years, and we do amazing trips with them. [They] spend $300,000 a year,” she said.

It takes Borman an average eight to 12 months to plan a large trip. 

“It’s a minimum of three months planning,” she said.

Borman’s planning consists of, yes, traveling – and lots of it. 

In 2018, along, she traveled 175 days out of the year.

And just one trip sounds exhausting; for example, Borman’s two-week trip to Switzerland consisted of staying at nine hotels, visiting 14, and boarding 35 train segments.

“People think, ‘Oh my God, I want your job.’ No, you don’t,” she said. “It’s never vacation. I’m always on three time zones.”

But Borman couldn’t picture herself doing anything else.

“I’m in my element when I’m traveling,” she said, adding she loves the “languages, the culture, the curiosity – all that.” 

“I have, I think, 14 languages in my app. I know like 20 words in 20 different languages,” Borman said. “When I’m there, I’m learning. When I’m in Botswana, I’m learning the local language. I’m talking to the gardener in his language, and he’s blown away.”

Looking ahead at 2020, Borman predicts jet trips around the world will become a big travel trend.

“Imagine you have $100,000 per person and 23 days, and the trip is heading east around the world. You travel during lunch, you stop at a destination for three nights, and you do tours and you land and their site has SUVs all lined up. You jumped in your SUV and off you go on the tour,” Borman described.

Borman added jet trips will become particularly popular among people who have money but little time.

“They like the exclusivity of what it is. They can afford it,” she said.

She said expedition cruising to exclusive, isolated places will also become a luxury travel trend.

She predicts the South American region of Patagonia will be popular next year, too, because “it’s gorgeous: outdoors, hiking, glaciers, lakes.”

As for specific cities, Borman said Puglia, Italy, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” will become a hot spot.

“Justin Timberlake got married there about 10 years ago in a hotel and then it came on the map. Now people want to go there. It’s totally different,” she said. 

And, surprisingly, Scottsdale has been top of mind for travel experts, too.

“Scottsdale’s always been a hot destination for travel,” Borman said.

Lee Abbamonte, global travel expert and graduate of Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, said Scottsdale is always at the top of his list.

“Scottsdale has everything I look for in a travel destination: golf, food, and great weather. I spend most of my time playing golf, and I go to the Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale every year,” he said.

Abbamonte predicts Scottsdale will have an increase in visitors from Europe.

“With direct flights from Europe to Arizona now an option, as well as charter flights, more people may journey to Scottsdale in order to escape the winter,” he said.

Scottsdale is special to Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world plus the North and South poles in 2011 at 32.

“On the weekends while I was in school, I would go to Scottsdale with my friends, and we’d go to the pool and play golf,” he said.

Recently, Borman spent two weeks on an Italian food tour, during which she stayed in nine hotels.

“I continue to travel in it and then learn more about the world,” she said. “I’m out networking referrals, cultivating my own ability, my own business.”

Borman’s No. 1 piece of advice when it comes to planning your next trip? Think differently about the way you travel.

“You can’t return a vacation,” she said.

Contact: jane.borman@victorydestinations.com