of travel agency expects big
Deborah Alexander, Staff Writer
Becky Roberts was 10 years old when she was bitten by the travel bug. Her first travel adventure was a cross-country trip from Rochester to California with her grandmother.
During the excursion, which lasted for several weeks, the pair traveled by train, plane and bus with memorable stops at the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Disneyland.
"Once you start traveling, there is always something to look forward to," Roberts said. Several years later, as a student at St. John Fisher College and after she married, Roberts worked for travel agencies in Rochester and Portland, Ore. It was during this time she made her first trip to Hawaii. The trip, Roberts recalled, was "awesome. It was so beautiful there. I did not want to sleep."
She opened her own travel agency, B. Roberts Travel Service in October, 1977, specializing in escorted trips to Hawaii, "because I did not want to be like everyone else."
Today, the agency, at 1876 East Ave., books cruises, hotel accommodations and tours from all over the world including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. Since starting her travel service, the 52-year-old Roberts has been responsible for more than 12,000 mainland travelers being introduced to Hawaii.
Last Wednesday, Roberts left Rochester on her 70th trip to the islands escorting a group of 30 Rochester residents ages 40 to 70. In November, Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii presented Roberts with a commendation for promoting the Hawaiian Islands as a travel destination. The commendation says that Roberts is personally responsible for escorting more than 3,000 to the State.
Roberts distinguishes her travel service from others with personal customer service. Her business is built on referrals and the fact that her staff of 10 has personal
knowledge and hands-on experience with the travel destinations. Roberts' clients are divided into corporate travel, escort travel and vacation travel. On the escorted trips, there is a pre-departure party and a travel professional with the group.
"We deal with the airlines and hotel issues," she said. Roberts said online travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Travelworm offer "no backup person to call when the traveler needs someone to rely on who cares."
Roberts said the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks changed the travel industry and how people travel. She described those days as an "awful time for everybody." In the aftermath, American travelers were not flying. "We were paying staff to refund money to our clients," she said. "If you were not an agency with stability or well-established, it was very hard to make it. That's why so many (travel agencies) closed their doors."
Reprinted from the Democrat and Chronicle, March 26, 2007.
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