“You’ve got to be kidding! ” was my stunned response when the airline agent recently gave me the bad news. In the ten days since I’d first made an inquiry, the price of a one-way ticket I wanted to purchase had gone up almost $250. In a panic, I called Bon Voyage Travel. Agent Lynne’s suggestion for an alternate route saved me well over $200, and that included the agency’s service fee! Lesson learned. A travel agency may indeed save you not only time but money.
Peter Evans, founder and CEO of Bon Voyage Travel, agrees. Born in New Haven, CT in 1952, His Jewish upbringing included going to Hebrew School three days a week to prepare for his bar mitzvah. “Today,” he says, “I attend High Holiday services and contribute wherever I can to the Jewish community.”
Moving to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, this successful entrepreneur decided while still an undergraduate to go into business with a friend. “I always wanted to run my own business,” says Peter. The two opened BVT in 1976. “With my love of travel (he has visited 75 countries and six continents) and curiosity about other people and cultures, it was the right choice.” Within a year, the friend lost interest. “I bought him out,” he says, “and never looked back.”
When asked about his favorite destinations, this world traveler didn’t hesitate – Africa and New Zealand. “Africa,” he says, “because it’s ancient, awe-inspiring and you’re immersed in nature. It all really touches your emotions. New Zealand,” adds Peter, “because of its sheer beauty and incredible people. If I were 30 years younger, I’d consider moving there.”
A married father of three adult children, Peter loves all manner of travel. His three favorites are with his wife, in a group of extended family members and accompanied by friends. A trip with his wife to New York (see a show, shop and eat great food) is perfect. With an energetic family group, sightseeing and enjoying nightlife fit the bill. A cruise is ideal with friends because of the many activities available. There’s something for just about everyone.
I was intrigued by Peter’s continuing passion for the travel business after more than 40 years and was anxious to ask him a few questions.
- With locations in Tucson, Oro Valley, Green Valley and Sun City/Surprise, BVT has stood the test of changing times. What are your secrets for running a successful business?
Two come to mind immediately. One is that we treat staff like family, who in turn treat clients the same caring way. Also, we have always been at the forefront of technology and trends. Even with four local offices in Arizona, half of our business, including many cruise options, is now conducted online through websites that we market throughout North America and beyond.
- In this day of online reservations, why is it still essential to have a travel advisor?
An advisor sorts through all the information (and misinformation) that’s out there and handles every detail, so the traveler can relax and have peace of mind even when the occasional surprise pops up.
- Why is a cruise a great way to travel?
You can see more of the world and explore different destinations that you may want to revisit for a more intense experience. Plus, you only have to unpack once! A cruise makes a memorable trip – one that could well exceed your expectations.
- What does travel do for your soul?
It takes you out of your bubble and makes you realize that you are part of something much bigger. It’s stimulating for all ages – from children to elders – and makes folks well rounded and connects them to our planet and its people.
- What are your plans for your next trip?
My wife and I are going to Rwanda for gorilla trekking, followed by a safari in Kenya. This trip will be my first gorilla trekking and third safari. Seeing animals up close in their natural habitat makes for an unforgettable trip with great memories to take home.
For more information on Bon Voyage Travel, visit bvtravel.com or call 800-439-7963.
Barbara Russek, a Tucson nearly native, is a former classroom French teacher. She has been a freelance writer for the past 13 years.