We are back with a fun interview for you! This time we talked with the cheerful Açai-lover Elke Van Den Borre. Elke became a model at a young age and grew into a travelblogster. Today, she is the proud owner of her own travel agency called Soul & Charm. In this interview you will learn more about how Elke got into the travelblog world, what impact Corona has had on her life and she also gives away a few travel tips.
Hi Elke, first of all, thank you for making time for this interview! As usual, we ask you to give a short summary of who you are and what you do professionally.
I am Elke Van Den Borre, 34 years old. I studied beauty care in high school and after that I immediately started modeling. I was a self-employed full-time model until one and a half year ago. Because of my big passion for traveling, I started my own travel agency Soul & Charm in 2020. I do this full-time now, and I still do some modeling occasionally.
How did you end up in the travel blog world?
I kind of fell into it. Back in the day, what I posted on Instagram was actually a mix of my modeling and traveling, and then I noticed that my travel photos had much more success than my other photos. People often search for something inspiring, something different than what they have already seen. Modeling was nothing new. A photo in profile doesn’t move people, or at least not one of mine. [laughs]
Were you already an avid traveler?
Yes, I have always been that way since childhood. We always traveled within Europe and I dreamed of traveling far and getting to know new cultures. I think it’s fantastic to immerse myself in the culture, so that I feel like I’ve really been there. I also must have seen the whole country. That is why I always sleep in different places and that way you discover new places too.
You already mentioned that your work mainly consists of modeling on the one hand and travel blogging on the other. Do you also have another activity?
A couple of months before Corona I founded Soul & Charm. I started that because in the past I never found what I was truly looking for in a travel agency. They often offered me large, all-in hotels and on top of that they were expensive too. My search for something affordable combined with something charming, something with a soul in it, often led to nothing.
And then you founded Soul & Charm. What does Soul & Charm stand for and who is it intended for?
Soul & Charm stands for travel with charm. Just think of boutique hotels, glamping, ecolodges… Everything with a lot of charm, but not unaffordable. The focus mainly lies on the ‘better’ middle class. Most of my clients are couples who want something romantic. In addition, I also occasionally have families who are looking for something different, something unique to do with their children. It’s really a full-time job, and I still do some modeling too. So you may say I’m very busy right now!
To what extent has your world, and have your activities changed in the past Corona year?
I started Soul & Charm a few months before Corona and it went very well right away. But then Corona hit and everything came to a stop of course. I had no more requests for several months, after which I decided to go and travel myself. I then went to Jordan and immediately afterwards I received many requests from people who wanted to travel as well. Since then I have been super busy. However, I do notice that Belgians are more likely to opt for European destinations, while before Corona striked I booked many exotic destinations for my customers.
How do you see the travel future?
The fear of Corona is still there, which makes people having an aversion to a mass of people in large all-in hotels. That’s why I think small boutique hotels will (keep) ‘booming’. Overall I think the travel sector will continue to grow. I notice that people are increasingly looking for luxury and unique travel experiences than really material things, and that is something the travel sector can provide an answer to! You might say I think the travel future is looking bright.
Do you have some tips for our fans who want to get into travel blogging?
I think it’s very important to maintain your own style. Of course you can always find inspiration from others, but give it a personal twist so that people recognize you immediately. Moreover, it is crucial to choose one niche. I personally like less ‘me’ and more background, more ‘views’. That works great for me. I think other people have to try out what works best for them.
Since you often travel yourself and have now also set up your own travel agency, would you like to share some travel tips with us?
With pleasure! I am a huge Asia fan myself. Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia… you name it! Besides that I also love the Middle East. Just think of Oman, Jordan… Moreover, it is really not expensive. In Jordan for example you have a lot of variety, such as the Dead Sea, a town called Petra… And during Corona it’s very quiet there. Petra really is a must see! It’s not a coincidence that the town is one of the seven wonders of the world.
Did you come across Açai on one of your trips and if so, how did they prepare it?
Of course! I have already come across Açai, especially in exotic destinations. Açai is often processed into a delicious smoothie bowl, with a lot of fruit and granola as toppings. Really delicious!
Finally, Elke, what is your favorite Açai dish?
I love to eat a classic Açai bowl with exotic fruits as a topping. Just think of mango, passion fruit, pineapple… I really like the sweetness. Then I sprinkle some granola on top and voilà, ready!
A huge thank you, Elke, for this interesting interview. We wish you goodluck with your travel agency Soul & Charm, your modeling work and all other future plans!