Two first-rate tour organizations, Mark Travel Corporation and
Mayflower Tours, have put together a deal that is worth noting.
Mark Travel is better known for the brands it produces including
Funjet Vacations and United Vacations, and Mayflower Tours is a
longtime solid citizen in the escorted tour operator field.
Mark has the technology and distribution to make tours widely
available through CRS and Web outlets that include an agent-only
site called www.vacationaccess.com. But Mark's tour programs
didn't include a strong escorted tour product. Enter Mayflower.
Mayflower, owned by John Stachnik, has a reputation for quality
escorted tours and by joining forces with Mark, can now make those
tours available to a much wider market.
The Mark-Mayflower alliance will put the Mayflower product onto
all of Mark's technology platforms.
Stachnik sees the arrangement as an alternative to selling his
company to one of the so-called "rollups" that have been acquiring
tour operators by the bushel. The deal with Mark allows Mayflower
to retain its independence while it enjoys broader
"We've watched what's going on out there," Stachnik says, "and
the rollups have done some excellent things ... but unfortunately
we're going through a period where we're seeing rollups turn into
Stachnik's reference is to the fact that some of the companies
that have been built by acquiring entrepreneurial travel firms have
experienced financial and management problems.
Some of them were set up with the notion of making money on
public offerings, only to have the stocks tumble. In addition,
these firms often have found it more difficult than they expected
to integrate a range of entrepreneurial businesses into a single
From Mark Travel's point of view, the Mayflower deal fills the
escorted-tour gap, a category that Mark's CEO, Bill La Macchia,
thinks is here to stay. La Macchia challenges the notion that the
escorted tour is obsolescent because of changing demographics.
"Our research shows that with the baby boomers---when you ask
the questions in the right way -- touring is going to be more
The Mark-Mayflower deal has the right ingredients to be a
mutually successful arrangement between two excellent travel