City Escape Holidays was founded in 1991 by Bo Adams and his wife Claudia. He has since created and marketed City Packages to 24 cities throughout the United States and Canada and 22 Special Event Packages to major cities and events throughout North America. Bo has worked in the travel industry since 1969 and has been the Vice President of Supercities.
TRO: Please give some background on City Escape Holidays.
BA: We are in our 21st year, we founded in January of 1991. My wife Claudia and I founded City Escape Holidays. We’re located in Marina Del Rey, California and we deal with land-only city packages. We have 24 City packages and 22 special event packages. The hallmarks of our packages are: we only work with travel agents and our packages are very flexible. We are happy to customize anything to suit the customer’s needs.
TRO: Speaking of travel agents, because you’ve been involved in the industry so long, you must have a lot of experience working with agents. Please explain these relationships.
BA: It all started back before we founded City Escapes. I ran the tour division of Carlson, it was called Super Cities. In my early days I would call on travel agents and pass out brochures for the company and found that agents are very knowledgeable, creative and in-tune with their customers and communities. This was long before anyone had access to today’s digital databases and I found it very fulfilling to make calls on travel agents and, going forward, wanted to be sure agents were the focus of our partnership efforts. They’ve been good to us and we hope we’ve been good to them.
TRO: How can a relationship with City Escape Holidays benefit travel agents?
BA: I believe one beneficial factor is that our company is very much a niche product. You don’t find many city package operators anymore. I also feel we have a generous commission policy, which starts at 10% and works its way up – when most city packages do not have much of a margin for commissions. Finally, our website is very user-friendly and contains a lot of tools travel agents can use to learn about our products. For example, agents can access instant show availability information for cities like Branson and New York City straight from our site.
TRO: As agents prepare for summer bookings, what City Escapes packages would you recommend?
BA: New York City and theater packages specifically, including at least one Broadway show. The interesting thing about NYC is that the summer months are the low season for the city so customers have a chance to see this great city when the prices are reduced. I would also recommend Washington D.C., which also experiences its low season during the summer because it’s a bit hotter.
TRO: City Escape Holidays offers independent learning trips for agents. Please explain these trips and why you think they are important.
BA: These trips are along the same lines as FAM trips but I prefer not to call them FAM trips because my experience in the 1980s with those trips was that they were basically parties with little educational value. They weren’t organized well and there were group functions that weren’t very meaningful. Our learning trips are called that because that’s the point of them. They’re independent instead of group functions so the agent has more opportunities to learn and experience everything at their own pace. We host these trips for every package we offer so travel agents can experience the trip just the way their customers would.
TRO: What is your favorite destination(s) in the U.S.?
BA: New York City is one of my favorites simply because there’s so much to see and do there. Broadway can’t be beat, the sightseeing is incredible, the large number of world-class museums, it’s just amazing. San Francisco is my second-favorite city and one I’ve always felt close to is New Orleans. There is no place like New Orleans, the great restaurants and live music scene, great hospitality, wonderful shops around the French Quarter.
TRO: Are there any destinations on your “bucket list”?
BA: I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel the U.S. extensively because of the product I promote so they’d have to be outside the country. I haven’t had the good fortune to visit Southeast Asia or South America yet, which I would love to be able to experience. I have been lucky enough to visit east Africa and northwest Africa (like Morocco) but there are other parts of Africa I would like to see. Australia is also on the list.
TRO: Anything new at City Escape Holidays that you would like to share?
BA:We haven’t really done anything new on the city package side for the past three or four years but we have added some products on the special events side and they have been quite popular. For example, the Country Music Fest and Country Christmas – both in Nashville – have been quite big sellers. I should also mention that all the great festivals in New Orleans have come back strongly: Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and Essence Fest!
TRO: Anything else you would like to tell the travel agent community?
BA: Just that we could not and would not be in business without them. Their support over the years has been tremendous and we hope we’ve done to the best of our ability what they expect from us. We hope the partnerships continue for many years to come.