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Andrea Oschetti of Blueflower Envisions Journeys of Rediscovery

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, are we just waiting for travel to resume, or are we using this pause to take stock of why and how we travel? We speak to Andrea Oschetti, founder of Hong Kong boutique travel agency Blueflower, about how this is the perfect time to reframe the meaning of travel.

By Gayatri Bhaumik
July 9, 2021

It’s Andrea Oschetti’s fervent hope that, having been forced to take a break from traveling, people will travel with purpose in the future. It’s not just that he wants us to travel better. He wants us to achieve self-actualization through our trips.

Photo: Andrea Oschetti

Destination Unknown

When he plans trips for Blueflower’s clients, Oschetti puts the traveler front and center, rather than the destination. Blueflower uses questionnaires to help identify why their clients need to travel and plans trips to address these needs. In doing so, he helps them focus on two things: what in their life needs to be addressed, and what practices can help them become the person they want to be.

Post-pandemic, it’s even more important that travelers are conscious about why they need to travel. “Covid disrupted our relationship to the world and altered our identities and sense of self,” says Oschetti. “So, what’s different now is that people will want to make better use of their travels so that their trips impact their person and helps them regain that sense of self.”

For some, future travels may involve engaging with wildlife and nature; for others, the next trip might present opportunities to reconnect with partners or families. But these trips are also about allowing time for self-reflection and activities that encourage personal growth. “We incorporate personal development techniques into the way we plan our trips,” notes Oschetti.

Photo: Andrea Oschetti

A New Era for Travel

As the world opens up again, people are imagining that long-awaited first post-pandemic trip. But what will that trip look like, practically? “I think people [in Asia] are going to be very conservative [because of quarantines], and from the discussions I’ve had, I think we’re going to see a lot of expats going overseas to see their families. A weekend in Phuket just doesn’t make sense anymore.”

Even when quarantine requirements are lowered—or dropped entirely—Oschetti doesn’t see hordes of people running to book a flight. “I think people will favour trips that mean something. They’re not just going to travel for a holiday. They will want to get more out of their time away, especially if quarantines are still in place.”

Complicated administrative procedures are another hurdle that could stop travellers from booking trips at whim. “There’s going to be checks, difficulties, low flight availability…additional burdens that will make travel difficult,” adds Oschetti. “So, I think we, as an industry, need to become more ambitious in how we design travel. It’s a new paradigm of luxury travel that’s life-enriching and values-based.”

Photo: Andrea Oschetti

The Freedom of Flexibility

The pandemic has given Oschetti time to work on Blueflower. “I created an alliance of the best agents in the world to offer a better level of service to our clients.” He notes that Blueflower has a 54-item list of quality standards that in-country partners must adhere to in order to provide their clients with the absolute best. This includes unprecedented flexibility.

Oschetti recalls a couple who was booked to fly out of New York. When their flight was delayed, they missed the first night in their hotel at their destination. “It was a two-bedroom villa, so we’re talking about thousands of dollars,” Oschetti recalls. “They didn’t even say anything, but by the time they arrived, I’d refunded their first night. Because of the agreements I’ve negotiated with my suppliers, I can offer special flexibilities for my clients.”

But flexibility extends to the trip schedule, too. Oschetti notes that the “uncertainties of travel result in situations you can’t control,” which is why he’s careful to plan trips that allow schedules to be switched as necessary. “Sometimes you’re tired, or you’ve fought with your partner in the afternoon and don’t want to go out to dinner. That’s when I can switch things around, taking into account your priorities for traveling. If your trip is about reconnecting with your partner, there’s no point having dinner together when you’re angry.”

Photo: Andrea Oschetti

Post-pandemic, travel is going to look a little different, but it’s a great opportunity to rethink the way we travel. After spending much of the last 18 months ensconced at his home on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island—he tells me he last went to a restaurant over a year ago—Oschetti is ready to reengage with the world. “I’m going on a three-month trip at the end of July,” he tells me towards the end of our conversation. “I do a lot of hiking and I like being in nature, so I’m going on a long trip through Africa, Europe, and North America.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to follow suit soon.