The best laid plans are often crafted over coffee with your spouse or cocktails with friends. It’s during those pleasurable moments when we decide to take that much-needed girls weekend, family vacation, or retirement bucket list trip. Deciding to get away is the easy part—choosing an exact itinerary and coordinating travel plans can be more problematic, especially with so many online options offered today. Travel and Transport’s Travel Design Lounge in West Omaha offers a unique solution to “Get Tripsy” from concept to creation for your dream vacation.
Travel and Transport’s rich history dates back to 1946 when founder Lawrence Youngman left his seventeen-year career with the Omaha World-Herald to launch a travel agency with his wife, Mae. After a modest start, Youngman created an opportunity for regional farmers to tour post-WWII European farms. The month-long trip included meetings with agricultural specialists oversees and overnight stays at local farms in different countries—all of which he personally researched and visited ahead of time.
He then partnered with local WOW radio station’s Farm Services Director Mal Hansen to broadcast reports from the tour. For 25 farmers, it was the trip of a lifetime and one of the first and most successful overseas flight tours for Americans. Hansen eventually came to work with Youngman at Travel and Transport and became president of the company in 1973. Today, through acquisitions and a commitment to customer service, Travel and Transport is a 1600-employee company with locations in 44 states and four countries.
Corporate travel is a primary focus for the company. But its leisure travel division is a key area as well, especially given the industry’s growth. According to a Phocuswright report, leisure travel reached $341 billion in 2015. A 2018 GO Group survey indicates continued growth with 33 percent of those surveyed saying they will be traveling more for leisure.
Jeff Cain, Senior Vice President of Travel and Transport’s Specialty Divisions, is seeing a trend toward more people relying on a travel advisor. “You can spend hours researching a destination and still not know exactly what you’re getting,” he said. “One of the benefits of using a travel advisor is they have access to amenities and expertise you often can’t find by booking online.” A travel advisor provides many services such as personalized destination planning, alleviates stress by revealing travel tips you might not know, and helps with unplanned needs 24/7.
Travel and Transport took the travel planning process to a new level by opening Travel Design Lounge in 2015. “We came up with the concept to create a unique, immersive experience for discussing and planning travel,” Cain said. The open style lounge and accompanying patio offer multiple options for enjoying a cup of coffee or a drink from the full bar in a social setting, as well as computer stations for online research and destination books for browsing. The lounge is also available for rent as a social venue to hold private parties such as graduations, work functions, or wedding events. Whether you simply want to come and have a drink, ask an advisor a few questions, or make an appointment to plan a complete vacation, Travel Design Lounge is there for you to explore and enjoy.
“Most people who come in have done some research online ahead of time, but we can really help with unique details that will turn their trip into a true experience,” said Shelby Goodrum, manager of Travel Design Lounge. “People in Omaha like to travel, and we offer a lot of family-friendly trips, intimate getaways, and multigenerational travel itineraries based on the ages and interests of those involved.”
To help inspire customers, Travel Design Lounge displays a wall of televisions showing an array of possible destinations and hosts themed events throughout the year. One event was an Italian wine tasting night. They provided food and wine from different regions in Italy, coupled with a presentation on the type of vacation you could take to tour those regions. Another event featured chocolate from Ecuador and wine from Argentina.
Addressing the misconception that working with a travel advisor is expensive, Goodrum said the fee starts at only $75. “We actually save travelers money in the end, especially with the amenities we offer that online sites simply cannot provide,” she said. “More people are recognizing what an advisor can bring to an experience.” That trust and expertise in creating a unique experience is what Youngman provided to the farmers more than 70 years ago. And it’s what you’ll find today at Travel Design Lounge as you “Get Tripsy” and dream about the possibilities for your next vacation.