…More flexible cancellation and rebooking policies. The pandemic taught us many things, but it certainly taught us that plans can change unexpectedly and with no notice. The travel industry learned this lesson the hard way, but has since updated many of their booking and cancellation policies to benefit the traveler.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adriana Martone.
Adriana Martone, a New York City and Milan fashion executive, and the Founder of the Safe Travels Kit. The Safe Travels Kit was created to revitalize the travel industry by offering serenity and comfort for world travelers and travel enthusiasts alike. The Safe Travels Kit is a first-to-market travel bedding kit featuring a patent-pending antimicrobial and hypoallergenic washable travel seat cover and pillow case, a protective face covering, and 10 sanitizing wipes, all compacted into a reusable lightweight pouch. After years of research and sourcing innovative fabric properties, Martone designed a protective and smarter way to travel by developing a resilient barrier against germs and bed bug pests for travelling on planes, trains, and automobiles, for years to come. The Safe Travels Kit has amassed massive retail power with kits being sold at Brookstone Airport Dufry stores, on amazon.com, and another large luxury retailer that will be announced in the coming months.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Hello, and thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share my story with your audience
My name is Adriana Martone and I am a seasoned fashion executive with nearly 20 years of experience in the New York City fashion scene. In addition to my career in fashion, I am also an avid traveler, having visited (number of countries). The combination of these two life experiences and passions is what fueled me to launch my most recent endeavor and ultimately have this conversation with you!
In 2016 I was on a flight from New York City to LA for the Grammy Awards, when I unexpectedly sat in a liquid substance on my plane seat (it turned out to be a bodily fluid). It was at that exact moment that a lightbulb went off: why aren’t travelers provided with more options to easily and effectively protect themselves from germs and viruses when on their journeys? We book hotels expecting clean bedding, and we should have the same expectations when booking a flight.
For a brief moment, I thought perhaps products that achieved this did exist and I had just overlooked it, until a lengthy Google search proved me right. There were no high quality seat covers or travel bedding sets anywhere on the market, let alone any that were multi-use, antimicrobial, and hypoallergenic. The need for this type of product was so obvious that it was something I couldn’t ignore.
Hence, the Safe Travels Kit was born.
Following years of intense planning, sourcing innovative fabric properties, and product testing, the Safe Travels Kit launched in December 2020.
In 2021 alone, the kits have already been picked up by Brookstone Airport Dufry stores across the nation, and are also available for purchase on Amazon.com and another large nationwide retailer that will be announced in the coming month.
While many seat cover and kit dupes have been introduced online since we launched, the Safe Travels Kit is first-to-market and parent pending — truly one-of-a-kind!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting would probably be meeting my now husband on a business trip while we were both attending a Luxury Watch show in Basel, Switzerland. Little did I know that my last minute impromptu business trip to Europe (which I was dreading knowing the long hours that go into attending a trade show + jet lag) would lead to meeting and marrying him in the summer of 2019! While I ended up catching pneumonia after leaving Switzerland, little did I know then that that five day whirlwind of 19 hour work days would lead me to him! Never say never and sign yourself up for that trade show.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I began my career at my first job, I was hired based on my passion, Italian fluency, and being bilingual, working for the renowned fashion house, Salvatore Ferragamo. In managing the Chairman’s schedule, a meeting was confirmed from the Italian HQ for a specific date: 9/8/2021. I confirmed politely, shared our address and set the meeting in our calendars with the set date. On the morning of August 9, I received a call from the lobby saying our guests had arrived. How could this be as nothing was in our calendars? I failed to recall that European calendars work a bit differently than ours in the US: day first, then month, then year! While I never made that mistake again, the take away was “never assume you know it all”. From that point forward, and when dealing with HQ, I always wrote out the month, date, and year!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
“Burn out” is real. I still struggle with this after 20 years of working. However, I think it’s essential to find time for yourself at any point throughout the work day. Whether it’s taking a walk around the block, meeting a friend for a quick coffee, or truly blocking out time in your calendar to do something for you. Eating lunch away from your desk is also key. Being able to disconnect is so essential. Scheduling an activity at the end of the work day also forces you to shut down and take your mind off work. Whether it’s a gym class, grocery shopping, going to pick up your laundry before it closes (rather than having it delivered), or meeting friends, plan something that forces you to walk away at the end of the day. I also find that working out in the morning definitely helps balance the day and provides you with a great head start! While it’s something I am still struggle to commit to, not looking at your phone for the first 20 minutes after you wake up is extremely impactful. Whether it’s making a coffee of tea, meditating, praying, stretching, or putting in a load of laundry — anything that distracts you from the world outside is truly helpful. I’m lucky to see the sunrise from my apartment as I am an early riser, so I do sometimes begin my mornings with a sun salutation followed by coffee. There is undoubtedly a sense of serenity and calm when you begin your day after having done something other than looking at your phone first thing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have been so truly lucky throughout my career and owe most of my success to so many mentors, past managers, colleagues, friends and family who all guided me and helped shape who I am, and where I am today. I found my real niche however not even knowing my own capabilities when I began my career in fashion publishing. Being responsible for generating revenue and crafting collaborative opportunities that fell outside the norm of only print advertising, heightened my creativity, polished my negotiating skills, and ultimately led me to entrepreneurship. I always admired working with brands that created a niche for themselves and was astonished of their success and the overall path that took them there. I often found myself thinking “what can I do and what can I create that so many others will need too?” And after yet another transatlantic business trip, something occurred and there it was; the red light that led me to Safe Travels!
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
The Safe Travels Kit brings a new kind of innovation to the travel and hospitality industries that had previously been lacking, well before the pandemic even began.
While multiple seat covers and travel bedding brands have joined the market in recent months, what sets Safe Travels Kit apart from the rest is our focus on sustainability and high-quality yet affordable material.
Not only is it made of ultra soft, hypoallergenic and non-binding (germ and bedbug resistant) fabric, it’s durable enough to withstand up to 40 washes so travelers don’t have to buy a new seat cover each time they jet set.
Even further, we place great importance on providing a versatile yet environmentally conscious product so all of our packaging is made of recycled material. We hope that in some small way, we encourage other companies within the travel industry to place more of a focus on sustainability, too.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
Most importantly, I think a product like Safe Travels Kit will help re-shape how travelers think about safeguarding their health while on their journeys, especially during these times.
It is my hope that the Safe Travel Kit becomes the new norm — the ‘go-to’ travel accessory that jet setters can’t leave home or the airport without. Not only does it also fit train and car seats, it’s super light weight (0.7 ounces) making it easy to tie to carry on luggage or throw into a purse or backpack.
Overall, I hope it will encourage airlines, hotels, and other customer-focused companies within the travel and hospitality industry to place even more of an emphasis on providing travel experiences that are comfortable and clean.
The pandemic certainly forced many travel-focused companies like airlines, hotels, and car rental companies to re-evaluate their processes for sanitizing and cleaning widely used surfaces and common spaces, but there is still much room for improvement.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
1. A change in cleaning/sanitizing procedures.
Pre-pandemic, many airlines were deep cleaning their planes monthly at best. While many of them have updated their cleaning procedures after each flight, it’s near impossible to completely rid a plane of germs between each boarding begins.
Hotels have also made changes to their housekeeping procedures. Many now allow their guests to choose how often they would like their linens changed, trash removed, and towels restocked to decrease direct contact with housekeeping.
2. More flexible cancellation and rebooking policies.
The pandemic taught us many things, but it certainly taught us that plans can change unexpectedly and with no notice. The travel industry learned this lesson the hard way, but has since updated many of their booking and cancellation policies to benefit the traveler.
3. More incentives to sign up for memberships (discounts, rewards)
As many people are still weary of traveling in general, companies such as hotels and airlines will need to be more creative in the incentive programs they provide to their customers. This could be in the form of points for miles, free stays upon signing up for reward programs, or access to swanky airline lounges.
4. Accommodating more family and multi-generational travel
Children were out of school for extended periods during lockdowns, and many college students missed spring breaks and summer vacations. As travel begins to pick back up again, many families will be looking to visit destinations that are easily accessible via car or short flight.
5. Meeting the needs of travelers with more car rentals
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Traffic Volume Trends report found that travel on all roads increased by nearly 20 percent from March 2020 to March 2021. Travel experts at AAA also predict that more than 683 million car trips will be taken during the summer months due to the remaining uncertainty of flying. In recent months there has been a shortage of availability of rental cars due to an even greater demand for summer travel.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
In my opinion, a perfect vacation experience is one that combines excitement, discovery, culture and relaxation all in one. While I adore sightseeing, we all know how truly exhausting it can be. Nobody wants to feel they need a vacation after a vacation, and often times, so many of us find ourselves saying just that! When time and budget allow, my ideal vacation is no less than 2 weeks. The first is for sightseeing — literally doing as much as I can in a day and crossing off as much as possible from my “to see list”. Off the beaten path excursions are my favorite, and finding a local to give their recommendations is key for me to really experience a town or city as a local. Ending the day with an incredible meal or even ordering in room service (and laying in my robe after a long hot bath) is ideal too! When possible, after a whirlwind week of “touring”, I always detox with a week of rest and relaxation in a spot somewhere geographically close to the first destination and home. I love the beach, water sports and sun bathing (yes, I am embarrassed to admit it but I do wear a ton of sunscreen now that I’m older). 1 week with my feet in the sand at a chic beachside resort that also has a spa and yoga available are a win, win for me!
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In addition to helping business and leisure travelers journey cleaner and more comfortably, the Safe Travels Kit brand is cognizant that our product caters to the travel industry — and to air travel more specifically. Therefore, we have placed a significant focus on being environmentally conscious both with the materials we use to make the kit, and with our customers.
As mentioned previously, we use recycled material for our packaging from the ultra lightweight poly bag, to the tissue paper we wrap the contents in, to the personalized note card. We decided to do this to do our part in offsetting carbon emissions caused by airplanes.
Customers can also feel like they are doing their part to help the environment when purchasing a Safe Travels Kit. For every kit sold, a tree is planted through our partnership with the non-profit, Team Trees.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
When I founded Safe Travels, I knew that I had to give back in some way and align with an organization dear to me, especially due to the fact that Safe Travels is an accessory targeted to the travel industry and airline travel more specifically. We all have a social responsibility to Planet Earth, not only for ourselves but for generations to come. Making small changes now is what will ultimately make the difference later. Fighting Co2 emission caused by aircrafts is very hard, however, compensating for it — even in a small part — is not. I am grateful to have discovered Team Trees, a collaborative fundraiser that raised 20 million dollars and planted more than 20 million trees. For every kit purchased, a tree is planted to compensate this emission.
While these kinds of initiatives are a step in the right direction, we must think bigger: What if every Airline carrier contributed only 1 dollar of every passenger’s purchased airline ticket? Let’s only dream of the millions of acres of trees we could plant as a collective sector to help save Mother Earth.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!