After 19 years in business, A World of Travel in Houma is still finding corporate and leisure travelers great deals to travel throughout the globe.
After graduating from Nicholls State University in 1990, Joseph Palmisano conducted a personal study that showed about 50 percent of the companies in the area did their booking with out-of-town travel agencies. He wanted to fill the travel agency gab in the Tri-parishes.
“Many of the area companies were dealing with agencies in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Houston,” he said. “So I asked myself, Why not have a local travel agency for their needs?”
Being fresh out of college and with limited business experience, Palmisano opened the doors to A World of Travel on West Tunnel Boulevard. He hired longtime travel consultant Margaret Adams as the agency’s general manager to run the day-to-day operations of the business.
Now with more than 33 years of experience in the travel agency business, Adams, who serves as the agency’s general manager, is helping the business thrive in the Tri-parish market.
To drum up business, Joseph Palmisano went door-to-door to almost every company in the area to see if they would do business with a local travel agent. The responsive was very positive.
Today, the company still has that aggressive approach to business. Business manager Tina Palmisano said the company’s three outside salespeople continue to grow the agency’s customer base, covering Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary and Assumption parishes.
“It is our job to search for the best price for our clients,” she said. “We have continuous specials on travel packages to draw customers in. Once in, we try to serve them as timely as possible.”
At one time, the company’s strategy was to target local corporations. But, through word of mouth, leisure travelers began to make up a portion of the business.
“Because we are in a highly-traveled area a lot of people stop by to get brochures from us, and with the friendly staff we have they began to ask our opinion about the best destination to suit their families,” Palmisano said. “And by going the extra mile, people began to tell others about our services.”
Those successful tactics have helped the company receive honors from the Jamaican Tourist Commission, Disney’s Sandals Resorts and Carnival Cruise Lines. The company’s most recent honor is having all its agents become Certified Sandals Specialists, which means they are up-to-date on the latest information on the Sandals and Beaches resorts.
In recent years travel Web sites have become popular tools in booking vacations and business trips. However, Palmisano said even with the increase, A World of Travel’s business could not be greater.
“We have not had any problems with decline in travel. Business is doing better than ever,” she said. “The people want to be able to come back to a human person. They use the Internet for research purposes, but most times they don’t feel comfortable booking it on the Internet.”
Even the recent economic concerns have not derailed business for A World of Travel.
Adams said, “The market is fantastic in this area. South Louisiana people are still traveling.”
As summer approaches, some of the top destination spots at A World of Travel are Walt Disney World, Beaches resorts throughout the Caribbean and Carnival Cruises.
For the winter months, ski resorts are more popular destinations for family travelers.
A World of Travel consultant Tina B. Palmisano (left) helps Houma resident Geri Parra plan her honeymoon trip. * Photo by KEYON K. JEFF