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Operator Grows Into The Global Business Life

Martin Romjue
Posted on August 14, 2019
Karim Maachi, the leading luxury ground transportation operator in Paris, has created a global high-end travel agency and a Los Angeles-based relocation service for French expatriates and visitors. (LCT file photo)

Karim Maachi, the leading luxury ground transportation operator in Paris, has created a global high-end travel agency and a Los Angeles-based relocation service for French expatriates and visitors. (LCT file photo)

[This is the 11th episode in a recurring series of educational video interviews by LCT editors Martin Romjue, Lexi Tucker, and Jim Luff]

LAS VEGAS — Between the time Paris operator Karim Maachi won his first LCT Global Operator of the Year Award in 2012 and a second one this year, his company, Cardel Global, has grown its service by adding complementary ventures.

Maachi now runs the Wanderlust Agency, a concierge-level luxury travel service, and a relocation agency for French nationals based in Los Angeles. He merged with his competitor, Edward Quality Services & Limousines, in March. The international operator sat down March 27 for an interview with LCT during the International LCT Show in Las Vegas.

“We've been growing the few past years and it started after we got that first award that gave us exposure in the U.S.,” Maachi says.

But with disruption from transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber, market volatility, and regulations, Maachi faced many of the same business challenges as his U.S. affiliates and colleagues, prompting him to diversify his business mix. He chose to capitalize on his strong base of corporate and financial clients, many of whom book roadshow transportation.

“I decided to come back to my clients because I realized they were using us mainly for the transportation, but they still needed hotels, flight tickets, private jets, and security,” Maachi says. “Because of the relationships I had with them, I could meet their needs for a one-stop-shop. I was really surprised how fast it grew, and now we have about 20% of our clients who use us for a different service than transportation.”

While the industry’s main business is transportation, it can always diversify its revenue sources without lowering rates to be more competitive, Maachi says.

To diversify into a related business, Maachi recommends aligning and setting up your service while meeting with clients to explain how it helps them.

“It took me six months to prepare and negotiate with the different brokers in the private jet industry,” Maachi recalls. As an official travel agency, Wanderlust can connect Cardel Global clients with deals on charter jets and hotel rates.

“You are providing clients with a luxury service, and on the private jet and hotel side that means attention to details,” Maachi says. “So you have to be prepared and work with the right people who specialize in the travel industry.”

2019 LCT video education series

Related Topics: 2019 LCT video education series, building your clientele, business expansion, business travel, concierge, corporate travel, entrepreneurship, European operators, French operators, Global operators, ILCT 2019, industry education, international business, Karim Maachi, LCT editor, Los Angeles, luxury travel, Martin Romjue, Operator of the Year Awards, video, VIP service, wealthy clients

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