oshen, Ind.-based Menno Travel
Service, a full-service American Express agency, firmly believes in
the strategy of strengthening your agency's business mix through
Ironically, the firm was born in 1980 as a spin-off of a travel
desk for the Mennonite religious group -- of which the Amish is a
sect -- whose original and only purpose was to provide travel
services for its congregation.
Today, Menno Travel Service has three different departments:
corporate (50%), leisure (30%) and group and motorcoach tours
(20%), with agent specialists for each, according to co-owner and
president Douglas Risser.
"We sell all kinds of travel here, and by doing so have grown large
enough to offer specializations in a few strong areas," Risser
With no real competitors in a city of about 25,000 in Amish
country, the agency has grown from $5 million in sales nearly 20
years ago to $16 million today. It has a staff of 26 and a second,
four-agent office in nearby Elkhart.
Risser claims his firm has a "lock on the local travel business"
and said that he and co-owner/manager Geoffrey Landis have held off
other potential players with their "competitive and aggressive
The agency's corporate business includes meetings and
incentives, student travel (Goshen is near several schools,
including local Mennonite colleges) and mission travel.
Landis said there is "still a lot of money to be made" in corporate
travel, with time-starved executives who are not interested in
serving as their own travel agents.
As for the agency's group and tour department, that took hold in
1985 with the launch of its first motorcoach tours through Alaska;
Branson, Mo.; Ireland; the Midwest; New England; Nova Scotia,
Canada, and Texas.
The firm now serves 2,000 to 2,400 motorcoach clients a year on
approximately 60 tours and employs up to five different escorts to
handle the tours, which depart primarily from the Midwest.
"Originally, we saw this business as an opportunity to add a new
product that could be profitable and relatively low risk," Risser
The agency is expanding its group tours to feature a wider
variety of activities in a greater variety of places, including
But at home in Goshen, the agency still caters to the Amish
community's need for mass transportation to family reunions across
the state and nation.
This, Risser said, has made Menno Travel Indiana's largest
seller of Amtrak rail journeys. In addition, the agency is Apple
Vacations' top producer in the state.
-- Michele San Filippo
Historic ties to the Mennonites
enno Travel Service in Goshen,
Ind., boasts a long-standing tradition of booking travel for
In fact, the agency's founding predecessor, MTS Travel, got its
start nearly 50 years ago as the travel desk for the Mennonite
Church, whose central committee can be found in Goshen, along with
the local Mennonite college.
When MTS Travel was established, it was the city's first travel
In 1980, MTS Travel spun off its Goshen headquarters and created
Menno Travel Service as a separate entity, according to agency
co-owner/president Douglas Risser. In 1997, Menno Travel bought
Four Seasons Travel in Elkhart, giving the firm a second
Senior group and international specialist Ron Yoder described the
agency's locale as being "a churched region with an evangelical
bent to its religious traditions."
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the agency is
linked to several local churches, such as the Mennonite Board of
Missions, Grace Brethren International Missions and United Brethren
Risser added that because of its early ties to the Mennonites,
Menno Travel gets special consolidator air fares for its small
mission travel business to Africa, Asia, Central America, eastern
Europe, India and South America as well as Third World nations
around the globe.
Yoder said, "It generally represents a higher-ticket item, so we
have a little more leeway in terms of mark-ups because we often get
bulk or wholesaler fares.
"Typically we send mission and service workers abroad," he
continued. "It's more like the Peace Corps now for the Mennonite
Church and other religious groups in our area."
For example, the agency's mission travel department primarily
supplies air but sometimes hotels, guided tours and transportation
for teams going overseas to build churches, schools and medical
clinics; doctors and teachers providing medical assistance or
education, and work-study groups giving donations to these
In addition, each year Menno Travel hosts a two- or three-week
Swiss Mennonite tour during the summer or fall that focuses on
history and genealogy in Switzerland; Alsace, France, and
Rules of resumes
f you are at the point of
needing to write or update your resume, here is the first of a
two-part series of pointers:
• Most employers look at the first page of a resume, maybe the
second, but beyond that forget it. Therefore, you want your resume
to spark their interest right from the start, and you want it to be
• Do not use a resume template. It is much too restricting.
• Taking it from the top, literally, your name, address, phone
and e-mail address come first. However, they don't need to take up
the top third of the page.
name, use a type size slightly larger than the size you use for
your text and make it boldface. The address and phone information
should be the same size as the text. If you need all the space you
can get, consider running your address across one line. Do the same
with the phone and e-mail address.
• Next comes your work objective. It's better to keep it
general; if too specific, you might be limiting your job
• Remember that you are talking about your career, so don't be
modest. You want to motivate the prospective employer to meet you.
The key is to make everything you say clear and concise. Be certain
there are no errors, especially in spelling.
• Use only one type size for the text, but your section headings
can be the same size as your name. Also, don't use more than one
font style and don't use too many margins (indenting). Keep the
style uniform by using the underline, bold and italic features on
• Your headings are: Career Objective, Employment History,
Skills and Education.
You might wish to have a summary of your overall achievements
covered under a heading called Accomplishments, Highlights or
Summary of Qualifications. Some might choose to add Personal
Strengths. These elements come after Objective. Just be careful
that what you write there isn't repeated under Employment
• After writing the resume, this is a must: Let someone else
read it, or maybe a few people. Make sure they can understand what
you are saying.
• Read your resume as if you were an employer -- would you want
to interview this person?
The second segment of this two-part collection of pointers will
take you through the resume itself, item by item. It will appear in
next week's edition of Agent Life.
Nancy Rush is the director of the western region for Travel
Solutions Group, a travel industry recruitment and placement firm.
She can be reached at [email protected]