Bill Gardiner has worked in the travel industry since the early 70’s. During his career, he was President of National Trade Shows which was the longest running series of Travel Agent promotions in the industry. During this same period he owned and operated a call center for a hotel rep company as well as multi-lined for a range of travel companies throughout the world.
At the same time, he was also a meeting planner for various tourist boards, tour operators, and other major companies in the industry. He has been an active member of ASTA , SKAL, Travel Agents of Tennessee and various other travel industry organizations. In October of 2013, he came on board as the Vice President of Costa Rica Dream Adventures. His primary duties include the expansion of all sales and marketing efforts, with special emphasis on expanding our national presence and reach.
TRO: Tell us a little bit about your role at Costa Rica Dream Adventures.
BG: Costa Rica Dream Adventures is in the midst of a major expansion program. Our sales team has been tasked with bringing us to the forefront of the expanding Costa Rican travel market. Through a series of promotions and an intense one to one effort we hope to make the majority of our travel agent partners aware of the amazing range of product we have to offer. My primary job is to enlist our agency partner’s support and give them the tools to utilize CRDA to the fullest. In addition, I hope to be the contact point for many of the agents who are working with us now and the ever increasing number of agents who find us each day. Since we only serve the Costa Rican market, we offer the unique ability to offer full customization. This, combined with our expertise, is causing more and more agents to think CRDA when they think Costa Rica.
TRO: What is your most fond travel memory?
BG: After working more than 30 years in many different parts of the industry and having been on most sides of the travel equation, my favorite memories of travel are not so much where and when I have traveled but the fun and excitement of helping someone plan the perfect trip or honeymoon. Years back, a very old friend once told me that the retail travel industry was a one of a kind job. He said that he had the distinct opportunity to sell dreams. A few years ago I had an agent come to me with a family that had a set of unique requirements that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. After a lot of bouncing things back and forth and the usual challenges of an FIT we finally were able to come up with a trip that was close. We later found out that the family was reliving the vacation that their parents, grandparents, and great uncles and Aunts had experienced years and years before. It was truly a case of selling a dream!
TRO: What aspect of travel inspired you to work in the travel industry?
BG: The challenges and excitement of the industry, combined with the people who make it up are the main reasons I have worked in the industry for so long. I have been very fortunate to work in many of the different sides of the industry both retail and supplier. Our industry is ever changing and continues to meet the changes in technology. In spite of being such a large industry, travel remains a close knit and personal business. I have found that if 2 or 3 people who have been in travel sit down and are meeting for the first time, in a matter of a few minutes they will find a number of common connections. I find this even comes through on LinkedIn and other social media outlets.
TRO: What are some services or travel options Costa Rica Dream Adventures offers?
BG: Costa Rica Dream Adventures offers a full range of programs and products that cover the entire travel industry with in Costa Rica. We are able to offer full customization of any type of tour in the country. Our range of special interest products are increasing. We have begun to release programs offering golf and spas. The main standbys of honeymoons and adventure are still major components of our offerings. In addition, we are leading the field with some of our 5-star deluxe packages.
TRO: Tell us a little bit about your ‘Green Green Green’ travel initiative.
BG: The “Green, Green, Green” initiative is easy when discussing Costa Rica. The country is very protective of the nature in its surrounding areas. Most of the country has national parks to preserve the ecology. Also the many properties are eco friendly properties, meaning that they use solar power for example. Costa Rica travel is “Green” travel.
TRO: What is Costa Rica Dream Adventures’ relationship with travel agents?
BG: Costa Rica Dream Adventures is totally focused on the Travel Agency distribution system. We are putting all of our resources into building and strengthening our working relationship with our agency partners. They way we do this, is by expanding our exposure to the various agency groups around the country. Our expansion has included participation in well over 40 travel trade functions in the first half of the year alone. In addition, we are aggressively reaching out to agents throughout the US with ongoing sales calls made by our staff.
TRO: What types of strategies does Costa Rica Dream Adventures use to uphold their longstanding success as a tour operator?
BG: CRDA is based on a strong partnership with our travel partners. We have structured our products so they can easily be customized to the clients’ wishes. Our Reservation staff is a valuable key to this strategy, meaning the person you start with on the quote stage is the person you are working with throughout the entire experience. Our basic premise is to give the client the best vacation at the most realistic pricing available, while still allowing for full customization of our product.
TRO: What are some of the fundamentals of business that keep you all running successfully?
BG: Several things come to mind, but put simply, we are an expert on one destination – Costa Rica. We have the best trained, best equipped staff empowered to meet the TA and their clients’ needs. We are driven to give our clients the best experience that can be achieved.
TRO: Is there anything exciting in the works at Costa Rica Dream Adventures?
BG: We are expanding our special interest programs. We are also creating golf and fishing packages and we are increasing the number of honeymoon offers that allow us to offer everything from the 5-6 nights to the 10 -12 night packages. In addition, we are offering deluxe packages and will continue to increase the amount of such options.