As travel agencies have
demonstrated over the past 10 years, necessity is not only the
mother of invention, its the mother of reinvention. It may not be
fun to actually go through the process, but from a safe distance,
its inspiring to watch business owners who, when the carpet is
pulled out from under them, make a few twists and turns and land on
If necessity is the
mother of reinvention, dreams can be the father, and there are
those happy instances when dreams -- not necessity -- are the
motivation for a career shift. People who reinvent themselves under
duress inspire us, but theres a different, lighter shading to the
inspiration in stories about someone who leaves a perfectly good
job to pursue a very personal vision.
vision is leading him -- literally -- into a desert. I met him two
years ago in Budapest, when he was the North American director of
the Hungarian National Tourist Office (HNTO). He was 41 at the time
and had been in his post for four years.
That was not such a
bad place to be. He told me then and he tells me now that he was
quite happy with his position. He worked in midtown Manhattan and
lived in Jersey City, traveling the country to present at trade
shows and travel agent seminars. On weekends, he and his wife would
relax by getting on their motorcycles and exploring New Jersey and
One day, hoping to
improve his riding skills, he called the local office of the
American Motorcycle Safety Foundation to sign up for an advanced
rider course. He was shocked to discover that it would be months
before a slot would be available. (Speaking of shock, I thought I
must have misheard him when he told me that he had given up
motorcycles in Hungary, but started up again in the states because
he noticed how courteous New York area auto drivers
He had no idea that
motorcycling was so popular and began looking into the phenomenon.
He discovered that motorcycle sales had risen by double-digit
percentages for the previous 10 years, including the economic
downturn years of 2001 and 2002.
He sensed an
opportunity to merge his passion with his career, but he wasnt
initially sure how to do it. I thought, how do I enter this
business? Zsamboky said. I have no mechanical skills, so I cant
open a repair shop. And I couldnt afford to buy a motorcycle
But it wasnt long
before it occurred to him that he could apply his two decades of
experience in travel and tourism promotion. In addition to his
weekend jaunts through the Northeast, he had vacationed in
Missouri, Arkansas and Arizona and had rented motorcycles upon
arrival to explore those states.
I began thinking
about motorcycle tours, he said. After looking into it further, he
decided that only two states, Florida and Arizona, could sustain a year-round motorcycle tour
In Florida, the
land is flat and the roads are straight. Not very interesting. In
Arizona, the elevation varies and there are thousands of
spectacular, twisty roads.
So, this summer, he
gave up his perfectly good job at the HNTO, loaded his possessions
in a truck, and moved to Phoenix.
He and wife Monica
arrived Sept. 1, built a Web site, bought five BMW motorcycles and
set up an office.
The original plan
was to open the business on Oct. 1, but things accelerated a little
faster than they envisioned.
We had the Web site
up and running and started to receive inquiries, Gabor said. As of
today (Sept. 21), we have completed our first sale. The first two
bikes went out last week and returned today.
Gabor sounds quite
happy, having spent his first few weeks breaking in the new bikes
and logging thousands of miles working out tour routes.
His dream includes
the travel professionals he got to know in his position at the HNTO
-- hes offering a 15% commission to travel agents on bookings (see
for contact information).
Gabor and his wife
are in the perfect Southwest locale for a happy ending. And it
would be a beautiful thing if the newly invented tour operators and
reinvented travel agents rode happily off into the sunset,