Companies That Keep it All in The Family

It takes a lot for members of a family to be able to work together, because there are so many dynamics that come into play. But as Debbie Strong conveys in her cover story "Family-Run Travel Businesses," those that keep their working relationships professional are those who are the most successful.

It makes perfect sense that the travel industry would spawn so many family-run businesses, because the act of selling travel is actually a very intimate one. Creating the "wow factor" for each client requires an innate sense of what that individual will enjoy.

But first, to get into the minds of their clients, the travel agent or tour packager must often become their alter ego of sorts, their phantom sibling or spouse, as they analyze what the client has liked or disliked about their past vacations and then perceptively pull all of this intelligence together to create a knockout itinerary.

Enterprising Families

In this article, we touch upon four: Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Valerie Wilson Travel, Tauck World Discovery and Casto Travel. However, there are many others out there. When I think back over all of the travel agents I've met, I realize just how many of them are involved in family enterprises.

I've just met Maureen Jones of All Horizons Travel in Los Altos, CA. Maureen had run a successful business for years on her own before her husband Roy "retired" and started working at the agency a few years back. Today, the two work together very closely to deliver an extremely high quality experience to their clients.

I also just met Malaka Hilton of Admiral Travel in Sarasota. Malaka had just launched her travel agency 10 years ago when she traveled to South Africa, where she met her future husband, Ryan. Within very little time at all, he had moved to Sarasota to help her develop what is now a wildly dynamic travel business. They, too, work side by side to create a successful business, but each has their own specialty. Malaka is an Egypt expert, while Ryan is known for his safari expertise.

Working and Traveling With Loved Ones

Other great examples of successful family ties include Jack Bloch of JB's World Travel Consultants in New York, whose wife, Navah Benhaim, handles the "nitty, gritty of the finances."

And then there is Bill Fischer, of Fischer Travel Enterprises in New York, whose daughter, Stacy, does wonders every day to help their family business deliver untold levels of luxury to their five-star clients.

In all of these cases, the personal and business relationships intertwine intuitively, and the benefits can be extremely bountiful. These joined efforts can create financial success, but they can also generate a thousand once-in-a-lifetime memories as these families travel together throughout the world, exploring new options for their clients to enjoy. If you ask Jack Bloch, he'll tell you that his 12-year-old daughter is on her third passport; she and her sister have logged more miles traveling the world than most adults ever will.

And so the reality is that the quintessential experience of running a family business in this industry is an intimate circle of working—and traveling—with the ones you love the most. Is there any better job in the world than that?

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC EDITORIAL DIRECTOR [email protected]