Hi, I’m Vincent Soriano, Founder and Managing Director of Art Of Travel, a company incorporated in Prague, Czech Republic. Originally from the Philippines, I first visited Prague in the late 90’s and immediately fell in love with it.
Working then as head of sales for an independent 5 star resort in Thailand with 1,100 rooms and a Convention Center for 6,000 guests, my job was to literally travel around the world to promote the resort. For the owners, they firmly believed that face-to-face meetings were the best way to win business.
My bucket list of countries to visit was quickly becoming complete. But prior to hotel management, I was already a seasoned business traveler. As a Marketing Management graduate in one of the leading business schools in Manila, I quickly landed my dream job after school. This was in advertising, with the thought that I’d be a creative director one day. But I was restless and moved on and moved out of the Philippines. First stop was Hong Kong: I ran the marketing of an Inbound Tour Operator, my very first taste of the travel business. Being in Hong Kong at that time was an exciting period. There was a brain drain problem; it was the early 90’s and there was a mad exodus of Hong Kong nationals who felt uncertain about their future with the impending handover to China in 1997. So even if I wasn’t in the job market, I was head hunted—several times. So I found myself moving from job to job and from one industry to another, from manufacturing, to trading, to leading the international sales of a German electronics company. All these jobs made me travel extensively. In my last gig before landing my hotel posting, I did regional marketing for Asia Pacific for one of the world’s leading music record labels where I had the privilege of working with and promoting world famous artists like Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Kenny G, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Yanni, just to name a few. I often found myself on a plane from Hong Kong to New York or L.A., or visiting the company’s offices all around Asia Pacific.
So before Prague, my life was filled with business travel from Economy, to Business, to First Class. I have visited 80 countries so far. Here’s the thing though: I could say I’ve been to all those countries, but I can’t say I’ve seen them. It’s 1 or 2 nights and meetings all day, then off to the next one.
Fast-forward to today: it’s a completely different story. After making contacts and friendships around the world from all my business travels, I decided to venture on my own and Prague was the chosen “promised land.” For a Filipino who’s spent a big part of his life in warm tropical climate all year round to a country where winter temperatures can go way below freezing, my friends from both Asia and Europe thought I was crazy. How could I trade the sun and sea for this? So I always say, despite what everyone tells me, Prague is one of the most enchanting cities I’ve ever seen. Modern yet medieval and just simply stunning. Once you’ve been to Prague, you’ll understand why it’s easy to fall in love with this place. And that’s sincerely coming from someone who’s pretty well traveled. Besides that, it’s also the beer. As a bonus, I also saw a gap in the market (or at least I tried to convince myself I saw one) so I could justify my move. After all, love is blind right? But with the Czech Republic being one of the countries in the “new Europe”, I truly saw an incredible opportunity. Thus Art Of Travel was born in 2002.
What started as an idea to position myself as a marketing representative company for independent Hotels from Asia, I became the go-to guy for those who did not have big budgets to promote themselves in the new markets of Central and Eastern Europe. For a reasonable fee we helped them with great value promotions. I then eventually found myself a nice little niche, which grew to include representation of hotel chains and airlines. We are now part of a worldwide airline network called APG (Air Promotion Group) offering not just airline representation but airline services with products developed together with IATA worldwide and ARC in the US, creating incredible value for airline distribution.
With all these, we naturally evolved into a full service Destination Management Company and Travel Service provider for both inbound and outbound visitors in the Czech Republic and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe. And since I’m Filipino, we naturally specialize in the Philippines, Thailand, and the rest of Southeast and North Asia.
So with the way our business is structured, I still do a fair bit of traveling. Only this time, it’s more immersive. I get to experience the local culture more. I do more as the locals do and pay more attention to the details when I travel. It is this new immersive experience that I enjoy and get to share with clients and partners around the world. There is more meaning to the way I travel now and it’s truly more fulfilling.
So, as you can see, we are quite a bit different than most US agencies. I hope that I can learn from you, and you from me. For planned topics in the coming months, since our company covers different fields and different segments within travel (airlines and hotel representation, destination management, online and both B2B and B2C), I thought I’d simply tell my story as it comes. We plan our business carefully and take a watchful eye on our results. But one thing about our industry is its volatility and it can change from one day to the next. Although challenging, this is what makes our industry exciting. So perhaps you’ll find me sharing from time to time on how we deal with such challenges. Or sometimes, just the exciting stuff we experience as we go along. See you in the next diary entry.
Vincent Soriano is the Founder & Managing Director of Art Of Travel. Based in Prague, Czech Republic Art Of Travel specializes in Marketing & Sales Representation as well as delivering travel experiences throughout Central & Eastern Europe. And with its strong affinity to Asia, partners and customers also rely on their expert knowledge of Philippines, Thailand, and the rest of Southeast & North Asia. To know more, visit www.ArtOfTravel.eu. Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org