Tips on How to Travel Like a Boss from Globe-Trotting Entrepreneur Ryan Ward-Williams
When it comes to nurturing talent, they say to start them young. The adage holds true with Ryan Ward-Williams, CEO and creative director of luxury digital branding agency, Ultrabrand. When he was four years old, he asked his parents for a CEO desk and chair, foreshadowing his future as a dynamic, globe-trotting entrepreneur.
Since then, Ward-Williams has gone on to work with some of the most influential names and brands in the world, from Kylie Jenner and the Kardashian clan to Harvard University, and credits his ability to travel on a whim as a major influence on the success of his business. Here, the Aeroplan ambassador dives in on how he grew his company, his advice on being an entrepreneur, and how to travel like a boss.
Describe Ultrabrand and what gap it fills in the market.
Ultrabrand is a luxury digital branding agency. We specialize in high-end digital campaign management, including website and eCommerce design, for the world’s most influential people and top=performing brands. The gap we fill is a very unique one. We are pioneers in luxury branding, and our expertise lies in our ability to build unforgettable digital experiences and market luxury products like private jets and extravagant homes to the right audience.
What do you think makes a great brand?
The volume of competition that brands face these days is enormous. Great brands are able to effectively stand out by developing a unique identity and value proposition. They know their target market, how to expertly engage them, and are consistent in their delivery. Storytelling is at the heart of this process and delivering a brand’s story with powerful imagery and messaging helps create a human connection between a brand and its customer.
What is the most important lesson that you have learned about being an entrepreneur?
My business realized exponential growth over the last five years and expanding my team was critical in helping us drive continued success. For a long time, I tried to control everything, do everything, be everywhere. I had to let go, accept the natural course, and believe that my team would have as much passion and drive as me for our company and clients. The process of hiring new employees in a small, rapidly-evolving business involves trusting that your vision is respected, understood, and shared. When I learned to accept the help of others, I realized our true potential and an entirely new vision for the company.
How have you managed to attract such an elite roster of clientele being a relatively young business?
The honest answer is that nobody is unreachable. People tend to believe that celebrities, CEOs and billionaires don’t use email, don’t check their Instagram DMs, and aren’t receptive to cold calls. We started the development of our celebrity and high net-worth roster with one simple tool — the cold-call email. A creative and concise pitch to the decisionmaker of a major company can go a long way.
How does being an Aeroplan member impact your business?
We treat Aeroplan like we treat our corporate financial account and have strategies in place that help us earn miles quickly. Without Aeroplan our travel expenses would exceed six figures. Our clients expect the highest level of service and having the ability to travel with Aeroplan without blackout dates and hidden fees takes the hassle out of business travel. We also redeem for business and first-class seats to ensure that we arrive at our destination well rested and ready to go.
What strategies do you use to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of using Aeroplan to run your business?
I adopt a cashless lifestyle and pay for all my expenses and recurring payments on my Aeroplan-affiliated financial card to maximize mile accumulation. We operate on an American Express Platinum Card which offers a $1.25 dollar-to-mile ratio, meaning we earn more miles than the dollars we spend. The more I expense on my card, the more miles I earn for my next trip. I also bring my business earning strategy into my personal world by connecting multiple financial cards to the same Aeroplan account and purchase technology, office supplies and luggage on the Aeroplan eStore, a gateway that earns members at least one mile for every dollar spent. These simple strategies help us quickly build our balance and book flights on short notice with ease. We look at Aeroplan as a partner in our business operations.