any standard, Atlas Travel International, a $100 million agency
based in Milford, Mass., may be described as a corporate travel
So why is the
agency selling books, duffel bags, pillows and stationery designed
for preteen girls?
founder Elaine Osgood wants to increase leisure sales (Atlas'
business mix is 79% corporate, 18% leisure, 3% groups), and she
likes partnering with others to mutual advantage, especially if the
hook-up has social value, as well.
So, it was a nice
piece of luck, or maybe fate, that Kelly McCoy, whose company
handles marketing for Atlas, and Bobbie Carlton, director of
marketing for B'tween Productions of Lexington, Mass., met last
fall at a networking event for local businesses.
B'tween is creator
and publisher of the Beacon Street Girls series of books and
related materials for preteen girls. The company aims to produce
literature, media and gifts that highlight positive role models and
build self-esteem. This year, it launched an adventure book series
about five preteen heroines who travel the world.
meeting occurred just as the first adventure book, "Charlotte in
Paris," was published.
The two companies
almost immediately "hit the ground running," said Osgood, with a
plan to offer tour packages for preteen girls and their parents
based on the Paris trip described in the book.
The idea, Osgood
said, will be to include the traditional Paris sightseeing
attractions along with the specific restaurants, shops or other
experiences described in the book.
The tours will be
promoted through the Beacon Street Girls' Web site, e-newsletters
to preteens and their parents and Atlas' own newsletter.
While Atlas aims to
attract customers for these and later trips, B'tween's benefit is
the opportunity to offer additional wholesome and mind-expanding
experiences for tweenagers. The trips also draw more attention to
the books themselves.
To emphasize the
connection between the book series and travel opportunities, the
two companies are sponsoring a nationwide sweepstakes that girls
can enter at www.beaconstreetgirls.com and at Atlas
The contest runs
through March 31, and the winner of a trip for two (envisioned as a
mother-daughter affair) to Paris will be announced in
Atlas will be a
consultant to B'tween on future books in the series -- the next is
"Maeve on the Red Carpet," and the destination is Hollywood. Atlas
vacation specialists will author articles on family travel for the
Beacon Street Girls' monthly parenting e-newsletter.
Atlas also has
exclusive rights to sell the first adventure book's related
merchandise. Those goods are sold at the Savvy Travel Shop, a
retail store at Atlas' branch in Lexington.
between a travel agency and a publisher with a mission is untested.
But previous partnerships of a different nature have been
successful for Atlas.
A couple of years
ago, the agency teamed up with a seller of high-end kitchens to
promote culinary tours to Italy. For each tour, they planned a
travel night at one of the dealer's showrooms that had a working
kitchen, the better to serve Italian food made on-site.
Osgood said both
companies invited their customers to the event, and that both got
business from the other's clientele.
A supporter of
Milford-Whitinsville Regional Hospital since she founded Atlas 20
years ago, Osgood uses the agency to assist the hospital with
fundraising. When the hospital is the source of personal travel
bookings from employees or volunteers, Atlas splits the profits
with the hospital.
contemplating the next steps for growing business at her agency's
travel store. While it sells luggage and typical travel
accessories, the Savvy Travel Shop was launched five years ago
primarily to sell fashionable clothes that travel well.
Calling it a
"prototype," Osgood is looking at expansion to other locations, but
the first piece of a nascent growth plan is putting the store on
the Web this year.
She was unsure if
franchising was in the cards, but she said that in 2007 the store
"will get more of our attention."
the next steps, and I look forward to seeing what we come up with,"
Think you're a
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Mike MacNair, mountain climber and CEO of
MacNair Travel Management in Alexandria, Va., designed and took the
following trip with other travelers last year.
1: Start taking Diamox, altitude sickness medicine. Depart
2: Arrive in Amsterdam for overnight.
3: Start taking Melarone malaria medication. Depart
Amsterdam; arrive at Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, where an Abercrombie
& Kent representative will escort the group to the Mountain
Village Lodge. A re-creation of a traditional African village, the
lodge sits in the heart of a coffee estate and offers views of Lake
Duluti and Mount Meru.
4: Acclimatize by walking with an armed ranger though
Arusha National Park.
5: Travel from Arusha to the Machame village on the slopes
of Mount Kilimanjaro to begin your climb. Hike for about six hours
through a dense forest of rubber trees and giant figs. Machame Camp
is at 10,000 feet.
6: Rise at 6 a.m. for a view of Uhuru peak. Hike about six
hours into the Hagenia zone to the Shira Plateau with its sweeping
views across the Masai Steppe. Shira Camp, 12,500 feet.
7: Hike for six hours. Cross the Shira Plateau through the
pass at Lava Tower. Barranco Camp, 13,000 feet.
8: To facilitate adjustment to the altitude, hike only
about four hours, along the Barranco Cliff, with no altitude
change. Karanga Camp, 13,000 feet.
9: Hike four to five hours, with views of Mawenzi Peak to
your right and Kibo Peak overhead. Make it an early night in
anticipation of a long day tomorrow. Barafu Camp, 15,200
10: Rise at midnight, climb a winding path flanked by
Ratzel and Rebman glaciers. After about six hours, you will reach
Gilman's Point (18,630 feet) on the rim of Mount Kilimanjaro's
crater to watch the sunrise. Walk around the rim to Uhuru Peak
(19,340 feet). You then begin the descent to your last campsite on
the mountain, with a stop at Kibo Hut for a rest and refreshments.
Total trekking time, approximately 13 hours. Mweka Camp, 10,200
11: Continue your descent to the base of the mountain
where your Abercrombie & Kent driver/guide will greet you with
a picnic lunch and transport to Arusha and the Impala
12: Depart early for Ngorongoro for wildlife viewing and
an afternoon crater tour. Dinner and overnight stay is at
Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge.
13-14: Depart for the Serengeti for two days of wildlife
viewing, with meals and accommodations at Seronera Wildlife
15: Take one last early-morning game drive before
departing Arusha for Amsterdam.
16: Arrive in Amsterdam; depart for the U.S.
Itinerary is an example of an itinerary an agent crafted his or
herself, not available anywhere else, but can be duplicated by
other agents to sell to their clients. To send an example of an
itinerary you've customized, e-mail to [email protected] with "Perfect Itinerary" in
the subject line.