assageways Travel of Traverse City,
Mich., chose a partnership with GrandparentWorld.com as a way to further delve into
the world of intergenerational travel by offering counseling and
specials to the site's users and grandchildren.
The $80 million company is Michigan's second-largest agency and
the third-largest franchisee in Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
Passageways employs 175 people at 23 locations.
Its business mix consists of 42% leisure, 42% corporate and 16%
groups, incentives and associations. The company also specializes
in cruises and packaging spring/winter breaks as well as premium
The agency sees the Web as a valuable adjunct to its business
and provides content on www.bid4trips.com and arranges travel for members of
business-to-business Web site for card- and gift-store owners.
Don Harmon, chief executive officer of GrandparentWorld, said that
because the travel section of his company's site is the most
popular area, he knows his users will be interested in experiencing
trips, especially with the grandparent-grandchild relationship in
Passageways president Tom Rockne explained how the process will
work: "GrandparentWorld users are referred to a special Passageway
hot line and learn more about the senior fare offerings of all
carriers, their policies on children traveling alone, adults
traveling with multiple children and destination advice."
Basically, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., calls are directed to a
Passageways location in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, that specializes
in the senior market, then funneled to a Traverse City office until
midnight and sent to a call center until 6 a.m.
An e-mail option has been available since Feb. 1, and a direct
link from GrandparentWorld.com to Passageways' home page, at www.pways.com, is
planned for April 1.
GrandparentWorld also will feature information on the top places
to take grandchildren, updates on senior and children's fares, and
special values, Rockne said.
Founded in 1999, GrandparentWorld is designed to deliver a world
of ways for grandparents to stay connected with their
grandchildren, including advice, relevant links and information on
travel, shopping, health, finance and grandkid trends.
-- Michele SanFilippo
Exploring the niche
ow is it that Michigan's
Passageways Travel came to form a partnership with
GrandparentWorld? The agency's president, Tom Rockne, said the site
came highly recommended.
Beyond that, he said, "when I first sat down with chief
executive officer Don Harmon and spoke about experiences growing
up, I remembered having lots of fun with my grandparents and wanted
to be able to bring this opportunity to others."
Vacation used to be a time to get away, but as more families
have become scattered around the world, they are increasingly
becoming a time to get together.
As a result,
according to GrandparentWorld, multigenerational vacations can
prove to be the best getaways clients have ever known, creating
memories that leave a lasting impression on the whole family.
But its Web site explains that this type of travel isn't just
for grandparents. "It's for anyone who wants to travel with a
child, including aunts, uncles and friends ... the best part is
that there are as many types of trips as there are grandchildren,
and getaways can be as short as a day trip or as long as a trip
around the world."
Rockne added that there is a sizable stream of business
available to agents from intergenerational travel, especially when
combined with other niches.
"The youngest baby boomers are now becoming grandparents, while
older boomers want to maximize their time by traveling with
grandchildren as much as possible," he said.
This is why he urges agents to look for the opportunities, learn
what they actually are, size them up, research and then try them
Harmon and his staff see multigenerational travel as an
opportunity to expand horizons, enhance education, venture to new
places, explore different cultures and try new things while
learning more about one another.
Popular choices for this type of travel include amusement parks,
state and national parks, rail journeys, cruises, ecological
adventures, ranches, historical sites, safaris and ski resorts.
GrandparentWorld suggests clients choose a destination that
interests both parties and ask grandchildren for their input.
The company advises including activities for everyone to enjoy,
such as swimming, fishing, hiking, bicycling, camping and scuba
It also said clients should choose a destination offering
activities for all ages, such as Las Vegas, because cities with
structured programs will give adults a break and they will provide
entertainment for the children.
The home-based challenge
ast year, Travel Weekly ran a
Plog consumer survey that indicated the public has
little regard for part-time agents." This generated a letter or two
as home-based agents remain a large and vocal minority.
No one ever wants to challenge the notion of home-based travel
businesses because anything one says is certain to anger someone in
that community. But let me plunge ahead with a few observations and
Travel professionals are sometimes embarrassed by the high
percentage of industry members who ought to be doing something less
cerebral for a living.
seen any evidence that home-based agents are any less qualified
than some of our full-time practitioners. Some of our most
experienced professionals have learned to harness technology and
work out of a home office.
There are now tens of thousands of home-based agents who
purchased their "credentials." This "bathrobe brigade" primarily
books travel for themselves and perhaps a few friends. They are not
to be confused with the home-based professional.
The fact is that an experienced home-based agent, even one who
previously worked in a bricks-and-mortar environment as an
owner/manager, can often earn a greater income by maximizing sales
time at home.
Too often, the discussion of home-based businesses is really
about the differences between full-timers and part-timers. Does the
full-time professional encounter a greater range of experiences
than the part-time practitioner? I think so. And, it appears, so
does the public.
Those who purchased their credentials and lack real experience,
and those who choose to devote less rather than more time to their
craft, would do well to stop whining about the lack of respect they
receive from their brethren.
Do you want to accept legal advice from an attorney who keeps up
with the law two or three days a week while pursuing other
Richard Turen is an industry consultant and travel agency
president. Contact him at [email protected].