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Liberty Travel Turns 58, Reflects on IndustryNovember 12, 2009 By: George Dooley
Liberty Travel, one of the largest retail travel agencies in the United States, is marking its 58th year with some reflections on its founding and the evolution of travel agencies and vacation packaging.
The company first opened its doors in 1951, in a small, one-desk office in Times Square that was manned by company founders Fred Kassner and Gilbert Harouche. A true success story of American entrepreneurship, today Liberty Travel has expanded to include 160 location store locations within the US, with a strong presence in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and New England. Stores are also located in Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida.
Elemental to this success is the concept of the "vacation package" - air or rail tickets and hotel accommodations with a single price tag, purchased in a single location, a "one-stop shop for travel." Kassner and Harouche are credited with pioneering this concept.
Before the "vacation package" transportation and accommodations had to be purchased individually. By breaking this mold, Liberty Travel played a significant role in introducing affordable, long-distance leisure travel to American consumers, and in many ways helped make vacationing outside the U.S., or to other parts of it, a part of American culture.
Travel packages remain the standard for every travel agency that exists today, though it has evolved over time to include car rentals, sightseeing options, activities and other parts of a trip that can be pre-booked.
Liberty Travel has launched a company-wide Birthday Bonus Blowout promotion for the second week of November, highlighting added values like complimentary nights and free resort credit that emphasis the value the company aims to provide to its customers. Meanwhile, many Liberty Travel stores are hosting their own in-store events and promotions.
A perfect example is Liberty Travel's store location in Bel Air, MD. On November 11 the store hosted an all-day event, offering customers up to $50 off their vacation as well as free birthday cake all day long.
Liberty Travel Saugus, MA is also hosting a week-long birthday-themed promotion the last week in November, offering travelers up to $100 off vacations on packages. The store is commemorating its first year in its new location.
In January 2008, Liberty Travel became part of Flight Centre Limited (FLT), an Australian-based global travel group that operates more than 2,000 leisure, corporate and wholesale travel stores in 11 countries. Flight Centre Limited is listed on Australian Securities Exchange.