ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Here's a twist: Just as many leisure travel
vendors are turning to incentives programs to boost revenues, one
corporate incentives provider is turning to the leisure market for
Brenda Rivers, president and chief executive officer of
Corporate Travel Services, a $50 million-per-year meetings and
incentives business based here, began marketing a new entity last
spring that caters to groups of 24 people or fewer, the majority of
Although Corporate Travel Services moves 200 to 300 people at a
time, Rivers' new division, TRAX World Tours, takes parties of as
few as four on soft-adventure tours. Two-thirds of Rivers' clients
are women looking for an adventure trip that is off the beaten
track, not something they could get as a normal FIT (unless they
were willing to pay high prices) and not dangerous.
Rivers said her decision to form the specialized tours division
grew out of her own life-long interest in adventure travel, as well
as a demand for high-quality tours with all the advantages of small
group travel. She listed among these advantages negotiated pricing,
careful crafting of itineraries and attention to comfort.
An attorney and businesswoman in her early 50s, Rivers
surrounded herself at the outset with an experienced staff.
She began hiring for TRAX in October 1997, bringing in trip
operations manager Nicole Peelle, who had 20 years of adventure
travel experience with Mountain Travel Sobek; historic and cultural
director Judy Albright, a former cultural tour company owner, and
client services specialist Bonnie Siemens, an FIT leisure
specialist and experienced trekker whom Rivers lured from an East
To date, the company has operated two tours to Australia and one
to Baja, Mexico, and has paid bookings for upcoming trips to Kenya,
Austria, Peru, the Galapagos Islands and South Africa. Thirty-six
departures are listed on the 1999 calendar, with a goal of at least
250 participants, including FITs.
The company's nine millennium tours to five continents,
including two to Africa, are filling up, according to June Nery, an
environmental biologist hired by Rivers as one of two marketing
coordinators. The 10-day millennium trip to South Africa departs
Jan. 15, 2000; the 15-day Kenya tour leaves Dec. 26. "We wanted to
offer some trips that were traveling after the actual [change in
calendar year] in case travelers are hesitant [because of the
potential computer problem known as] Y2K," said marketing
coordinator Britt Matthews.
TRAX tours include most meals, airport transfers, ground
transportation, the best available accommodations, local guides and
no single supplements. A TRAX escort accompanies most tours.
In addition, TRAX has negotiated tiered pricing with its ground
operators and hotels. This ensures that departures are not canceled
if a tour does not fill but, rather, will operate with fewer
participants at a slightly increased cost, according to Matthews.
There is a four-person minimum if using a TRAX escort. The FIT
minimum is one person.
For the booking agency, she offers a 12% to 15% commission as
well as "joint marketing opportunities," such as providing
preproduced marketing pieces with a direct-mail service option and
TRAX speakers for travel functions hosting more than 20 potential
The 10-day South Africa tour, which takes in Cape Town, the
nearby wine country and the Londolozi game reserve, costs $2,995
per person, land only, based on 15 to 19 participants; $3,295,
based on 10 to 14 participants. Internal air fare is $455. The
single supplement is $545. Upcoming departures are Sept. 25 and
Jan. 15, March 25, Sept. 23 and Dec. 23, 2000.
The 15-day Kenya trip starts in Nairobi and ends at the Masai
Mara Game Reserve in the Serengeti. Per person, land-only rates are
$3,550, based on 10 to 20 participants; $300 for park fees; $250
for internal air fare, and $495 for a single room. Departure dates
are July 4, Oct. 24 and Dec. 26 this year and Feb. 6, Oct. 22 and
Dec. 24, 2000. On all tours, the 11th guest goes free with a group
Corporate Travel Services, a member of Woodside Travel Trust,
employs nearly 100 people: 65 in its main office here, including 18
TRAX staff; 15 in the Bay Area of San Francisco who specialize in
travel management for the entertainment, video production and
record industries, and the remainder in offices in Golden, Colo.,
When Rivers took over CTS in 1992, the company was losing money.
"Since 1991, we have tripled our revenue," she said. "We'll do $60
million this year."
For the past five years, CTS has been included on Colorado
Business magazine's top 10 list of the most successful women-owned
businesses in Colorado. It also has been recognized by the Denver
Business Journal as one of the top three independent travel
agencies in Colorado. TRAX World Tours, Phone: (888) 340-TRAX or
(303) 694-8749, Fax: (303) 267-0988, Web: www.TRAXtours.com