Adam Schwab from Luxury Escapes: Curating Paradise | #248

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Adam talks partnerships, content creation…and really nice holidays

Ep 248 Adam Schwab
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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.


Adam Schwab is the Co-Founder and CEO of Luxury Escapes, one of the world's fastest growing online travel sites. Adam was originally a corporate lawyer specialising in Mergers & Acquisitions at HerbertSmithFreehills before becoming a founding director of privately-owned corporate accommodation and services group, Living Corporate Apartments, before founding what would become Luxury Escapes with school friend, Jeremy Same. Adam is a financial journalist and business commentator specialising in corporate governance, economics and start-ups. In 2010, Adam released the Amazon (microeconomics) bestseller, ‘Pigs at the Trough: Lessons from Australia’s Decade of Corporate Greed’, published by John Wiley & Sons. In addition to Luxury Escapes, Adam has been a director of the Myeloma Foundation of Australia for 10 years, and has run two Melbourne Marathons completely barefoot to raise funds for the foundation.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Adam Schwab, Co founder and CEO of Luxury Escapes, the travel brand offering highly curated, easily bookable holidays with exclusive discounts and inclusions.  What began in Melbourne as a small start up in 2013, now has over 4.2 million global members and major offices in Australia, India, New Zealand, the US and the UK.  In this chat, Adam shares why content creation is so important for Luxury Escapes, his tips for developing enduring partnerships and where the travel market sits now after a rocky few years.

“If we can make a quick buck or sacrifice a dollar now for a relationship in five years, we’ll always do the latter.

Adam Schwab

The long game

“Obviously you need to have a really good negotiation sales skill. Cause you’ve got to ensure that your partners trust you to make sure their brand is looked after. So you’ve gotta build that slowly and start slowly. You’re not gonna go from zero to hundred, you’re not gonna start working with the world’s best brands on day one. 

I think you slowly climb the luxury ladder in a way, that’s the kind of business you’re doing. But even speaking of Kogan, they didn’t deal with the likes of Sony and Samsung for many years, it took them a decade plus to get to the credibility to work with big brands. So often it just comes with scale. Just keep at it, make sure economics are right and then gradually invest more and more as you see those economics playing out. 

We started 2010. That’s a 13 year journey to get to where we’ve got to and we’ve still got a heap of work to do.  We’re maybe a three out of ten in our journey, where we want to get to.”

Channels of choice

Our channels pre and post (Covid) haven’t changed that much. Digital was always the major channel, pre Covid. It’s remained so, it’s probably dropped off a little bit in some parts, but SEM still remains dominant. Socials obviously dropped off, with the Apple privacy changes. but Facebook’s still partly relevant.

Our affiliate program continues to grow, we’ve recently hired a Head of Influencers, so we investing more in partnership marketing and in terms of the above the line – TV shows to newspapers to radio, podcasts, that mix hasn’t really changed that much and everyone can see where we are there.

We always try to be experimental with a bit more sponsorship, that sort of stuff. But we’re highly attributable. We want QR codes, they are really helpful and a great attributor, so we can certainly tell which newspapers perform better and worse and how much sessions lead to and how many purchases and that kind of stuff.”

Older demographic hard to change

“During lockdowns it obviously dropped off, but we had some great months during Covid. June 2020 was a record profitability month, so was October, 2021.  Melbourne and Sydney were coming out and Fiji opened and it just went crazy.  

I can only speak for Luxury Escapes, so I can’t speak very generally, but one of the things where we’ve certainly had to struggle post opening is we’ve seen our demographics change.  So pre Covid, we were really strong in that 60-80  year old demo. So people with lots of money, lots of time, no dependents. They would travel once, maybe twice a year. And since Covid, there’s a couple things. One, there’s still this great fear of Covid just because of the media. That’s one reason. 

And the other reason is just often as you get older you’re creatures of habit.  So a lot of people 65 to 80 years old haven’t travelled for two years. They just stopped doing it.  Because they were used to travelling every year. Then they stopped and now they’re used to stopping.”

Questions answered in this episode include
  • How would you describe Luxury Escapes’ main differentiator today? 
  • How did you get deals with some of the big international partners when you first started out? 
  • How do you scale the product details and content when it comes to all products that you list? 

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