The Family Business

In this issue’s cover story, “The Art of Exploration” (page 18), we profile tour operator Collette Vacations.

In this issue’s cover story, “Collette Vacations Gains Clients,” we profile tour operator Collette Vacations. Collette has been a close-knit family operation for nearly 100 years, owned first by the Collette family and followed for the past half-century or so by the Sullivan clan. Dan Sullivan Jr., the company’s current president and CEO, is fortunate enough to be able to mentor the third generation of Sullivans as they take on a growing role in the business.

As I read about Collette’s history, I was traveling with my son on a Holland America Line cruise to Alaska along with a group of fellow travel writers, public relations representatives and their families. Unlike some press trips, having so many kids around gave the fam quite a bit more energy, and it reminded the rest of us of how important it is to experience these faraway places through fresh eyes. Sometimes, it takes a child’s point of view to reinvigorate an experience and spark the creative juices.

This fresh perspective is one of the benefits of a family-run business as well. As one generation provides stability, the next generation is able to expand and develop new ideas. And just as travel itself brings loved ones closer together, growing up in the industry often instills a love of travel in the next generation from an early age.

I’ve always been impressed by how many companies in the travel industry continue from generation to generation. If you’re part of a family travel business — or just know of a business with a history that you want to share with others — visit this Viewpoint on our updated website at and leave a comment. I’m guessing there are plenty of fascinating stories of people growing up with travel in their blood.

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