Norwegian Founder of Luxury Travel Agency


Karl Backlund (30), a graduate from Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen and ESSEC Business School in France had trouble finding a job in banking. Then he met Jon Ein, a Paris-based American financier looking to expand into luxury travel.

In 2013 they founded a private travel community for the executive traveler, focusing on the luxury market. The pool of travelers allows the company, Marchay, to create value by getting better rates and taking a fiduciary approach. The model is membership-based and applicants must be screened before approval.

From the Mark, New York
From the Mark, New York

Focusing exclusively on the top end of business travel. Marchay chooses one or two of the best hotels in the world’s major business cities, e. g. The Connaught in London, the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, The Mark and The Peninsula in New York, the St. Regis in San Franciscp, Park Hyatt in Dubao and Beijing, Shangri la in Toronto and Emiliano in Sao Paulo.

Marchay luxury hotel
Marchay luxury hotel

Members also share tailored travel tips and recommendations for each location. The ‘List of 5’, which is sent directly to members’ smart phones, is a condensed round-up of the best places to visit within a short walk of the hotel.

“We are revolutionizing high-end travel for a small subset of business leaders and accomplished individuals,” said Mr. Backlund to the New York Times.

Backlund explains that Marchay would rather acquire the accredited member than growing too fast. One trend Backlund identified in luxury business travel is the social component as peers turn to each other more than just relying on traditional travel services.

Now Marchay will transition from an invitation-only site to a public one, on which anyone can apply for membership. The yearly fee is $2,000 (up from $1,000 in 2013), with a $25,000 annual minimum spend on travel services brokered by the company.

“We focus on expensive markets because that’s where you can turn that $900 hotel into $300 or $400,” Mr. Backlund told NYT.

While the cost saving is the basis for Marchay, it is also about having a perfect user experience and making our work travel more efficient and fun.

Norwegian Founder of  Luxury Travel Agency, written by Tor Kjolberg