All-star entrepreneurs and bringing back the founders: How Luxury Escapes is re-vamping its board ahead of travel recovery

Luxury Escapes

(L-R) Mark Hoenig, Adam Schwab, Ido Leffler, Gabby Leibovich. Photo: Dean Schmideg

Australian travel deal provider Luxury Escapes is preparing for a post-pandemic recovery in the luxury holiday market by bringing back two of the people who helped launch the company 10 years ago. 

Co-founders Mark Hoenig and Joshua Borenstein have rejoined the business in the role of strategic adviser and non-executive director, respectively. 

Meanwhile, Andrew McEvoy, for chief executive of Tourism Australia, has been appointed to chair the company’s board, and prominent entrepreneurs Gabby Leibovich and Ido Leffler will also take seats at the board table. 

Adam Schwab, who co-founded parent company Lux Group and handed over the Luxury Escapes chief executive mantle to Cameron Holland in early 2019, tells SmartCompany  that Hoenig and Borenstein are replacing a former shareholder and independent director “as part of an overall strategic move to inject even more entrepreneurialism into the business”. 

“Josh and Mark were pivotal in building the sales and marketing functions in the business and will focus on helping the business in those areas,” Schwab says. 

The new appointments will play a key role in Luxury Escapes’ ongoing rebound, with Schwab estimating travel volumes for the sector overall will return to pre-pendemic levels within the next 12-18 months.

Four years ago, Luxury Escapes was turning over $200 million annually and Schwab says the business was on track towards turning over half a billion dollars in revenue for the 2020 financial year before COVID-19 hit. 

The hit to sales was immediate, said Holland when writing for SmartCompany in May, and it was a similar experience for most operators in the travel industry. 

“We initially saw revenue drop by around 97% [in March and April] compared to January sales, and that is before refunds and credits,” says Schwab, who adds that while the business is still finalising its audited numbers for the financial year.

With outbound international travel from Australia at a standstill, and many Victorians unable to travel, there is still plenty of uncertainty for companies in the market. 

However, Schwab says there have been encouraging signs in May and June, with Luxury Escapes seeing domestic travel begin to rebound in recent months.

“Local travellers are booking holidays to destinations in Queensland, New South Wales and NT, which is fantastic news for our tourism sector,” he says.

“The travel sector has shown to be incredibly resilient over a number of years, despite war, terrorism and recession,” the entrepreneur says. 

“This shock has been the most serious in our lifetimes, so it’s likely the recovery will take longer, but we think within 12-18 months, we hope to see volumes recover to pre-pandemic levels as the underlying demand for experiences from our members still appears to be strong,” Schwab adds.

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