Sign Up for Our Daily Newsletter
Transporting lumber in his family’s rowboat across southern Switzerland’s Lake Lugano, the young Swiss grew mesmerized by its natural beauty. Inspired by the wide-eyed wonder he witnessed in visitors to his home country, Mantegazza took a leap of faith by purchasing his own rowboat on credit to share his surroundings with vacationers. His small enterprise grew quickly, proving how passion can defy boundaries for those with a dream to take on the world.
What began as Mantegazza’s one-man show on an Alps-fringed lake has burgeoned into a global travel empire. Today, the Globus Family of Brands Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways reaches every corner of the world with a spectrum of escorted and independent vacation offerings.
Still mirroring Mantegazza’s core values, Globus connects half a million travelers yearly to intriguing tours, small-ship cruises and independent travel packages that span 65 countries across six continents. The crux of the family-owned company remains its founder’s ideals of hard work, innovation and the love of travel the same principles that will most certainly guide Globus into future decades.
Upon reaching its 80th anniversary, Phillip Gordon, president and CEO of the Globus Family of Brands, attributed the company’s endurance to preserving Mantegazza’s ideals with insight and innovation. No stranger to the complexities of the travel industry, Gordon embarked on his Globus journey 33 years ago with its Cosmos Europe operations in Lugano.
With the 2004 passing of Mantegazza’s grandson Paolo, Gordon took the helm of Littleton, Colo.-based Group Voyagers, the privately held company that markets and sells the Globus Family of Brands in North America. It’s a position he deems both challenging and rewarding, especially at this milestone. “In 80 years, we have witnessed three generations of vision and hard work culminate into dream vacations and enriching experiences for millions of travelers worldwide,” said Gordon. “This achievement demonstrates that Globus has a great deal of staying power.”
Surviving incredible challenges over the years, Globus is especially proud of its longevity in the tour business.
“We’re confident our clients have chosen wisely when selecting Globus products,” Gordon said. “And our goal is to continue delivering the quality we’re known for.”
Since he never met the Globus patriarch, Gordon can only imagine how the senior Mantegazza would feel today about the tiny company he created in 1928.
“Although nearly every stage Antonio handled became significantly successful in a short amount of time,” Gordon said, “I think he’d still be very impressed with where the following generations have taken Globus.”
From Rowboats to Rock & Roll
From a single rowboat crossing a scenic Swiss lake to a family of companies comprising more than 30 tourism and aviation businesses, Globus has matured meticulously under the keen entrepreneurial instincts of the Mantegazza family and business partner Werner Albek.
Even as the Great Depression swept away hopes in the 1930s, Mantegazza managed to bolster his business with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. Good fortune greeted him when he won a local sweepstakes that rewarded him rights to operate a popular route for the Swiss national postal and transportation service.
To get things rolling, Mantegazza purchased his first motorcoach the birth of motorcoach touring as we know it today, according to Globus. Just in his 30s, he was on the map with his own full-fledged travel business that he named Globus Viaggi.
Throughout that decade, Globus Viaggi gained ground by amassing a fleet of 12 coaches to operate local tours for Europeans vacationing in Switzerland. Rebounding from a World War II hiatus, Mantegazza grew his fleet to 33 by acquiring two of his coach competitors.
In the process, he partnered with Albek to expand with popular excursions to Rome, Venice, the Dolomites and the French Riviera. These Globus overnighters evolved into multiple-day treks covering even more territory. And in the late 1950s, the pair pioneered the concept of Grand European Touring by offering first-class journeys to North Americans.
With son Sergio by his side, Mantegazza and Globus Viaggi introduced its value-priced Cosmos arm to the British market in the 1960s. The European touring option proved such a hit with the price-conscious Brits that Globus parlayed the success into air holiday packages. And by 1968 just 40 years after the launch of Globus Viaggi the demand for Cosmos led to the formation of its own airline, Monarch Airlines.
In that same progressive decade, Globus crossed the pond to open a North American company, Group Voyagers, to oversee U.S. tour operations and the American market for the Globus and Cosmos brands. That same entrepreneurial spirit amplified by Globus Viaggi thrives in Group Voyagers today. Under Sergio’s guidance in the 1970s and 1980s, Globus leapfrogged its competition by presenting travelers with packages to more countries than any other tour operator Africa, Australia, North and South America, Southeast Asia, Europe and the South Pacific.
With a track record of introducing the right products at the right time, Globus continued fine-tuning its offerings and monitoring markets over the next few decades. Keeping a keen eye on aging baby boomers and the maturing of their travel expectations, the company found its opening to grow with that market.
In 2004, it tackled one of its most aggressive expansions by adding the cruise company Avalon Waterways to offset the boomer drive for independent travel. Also in 2004 came Monograms, providing consumers independent travel opportunities with the services of a Local Host.
“In terms of sales growth and response, Avalon and Monograms are both proof that Globus can be successful, presenting our expertise in a variety of packages,” said Steve Born, vice president of marketing. “Avalon has emerged as the fastest-growing river cruise line, currently up more than 30 percent compared to last year. That’s fueled by agents’ appreciation of the brand, growth of the category and rapid expansion of our fleet and destinations.” Born added that Globus plans to bring two new ships online in Europe during 2010.
“We intend to grow Avalon with agents who typically book river cruises instead of simply targeting agents who book escorted tours,” he said.
Monograms doesn’t have the benefit of an emerging category. Yet, it has garnered success as an easier option to ordinary FIT bookings with its Local Host support.
“The beauty of Monograms is that it’s ground travel without the group,” said Born. “It takes all the good things Globus has done for 80 years and repackaged them in a different way with a concept that’s completely new.”
Monograms has experienced a steady 10 percent growth year-over-year, according to Born.
“Our sense is that it’s ready to explode, as agents are continually pressed for time and are looking for a reliable option for their independent clients,” he said.
Capping a trilogy of forward-thinking moves, Globus ventured into niche vacations in 2005. That creative menu covers everything from faith-based travel and a Food & Wine Series to Rock & Roll England jaunts that allow travelers to walk in the footsteps of great English bands.
“It’s interesting that a company so grounded on experience and tradition uses it to innovate and continually explore new product experiences,” Born said. “These specialty vacations are testaments to our commitment toward new product design and packages keeping up with the needs and interests of today’s traveler.”
Born added how the nature of niche travel actually serves as a door opener between travel agents and their clients.
“Specialty segments rise above some of the usual structures of describing an escorted trip,” he said. “An agent can open the door by asking if a client enjoys music or art. So it’s natural to bridge the gap by adding that Globus has a number of tours focusing on these interests.”
The Road Ahead
Crystal ball aside, Gordon sees Avalon and Monograms expanding over the next five to 10 years. He also anticipates that Globus will broaden its core escorted products with new specialties and themes.
“When I look at increments of five years, the greatest changes are travel styles and opportunities from our ongoing research of niche markets,” said Gordon. “Something we’ve enjoyed in the last five years is the opportunity to better understand these niches.”
As for product development, Gordon feels destinations, niches and technology will all evolve and help Globus continue to provide resources to effectively assist its agency partners.
As the trend sees more Americans than ever seeking travel experiences beyond their comfort zone, Globus plans to continue to respond with exciting new itineraries. The growing demand for South America and China proves the point.
“We’re seeing more and more people looking for exotic destinations,” Born said. “And we don’t expect this to be a short-term proposition.”
He added that travelers between ages 50 and 60 comprise the largest group across all Globus brands, calling it “the sweet spot for travel over the next 10 years.”
“Overall, travelers are far more adventurous now than in the past,” Gordon agreed. “We’re seeing more interest in vacations that buck tradition and take travelers to some of the most unusual, culturally rich destinations in the world.”
Stride for stride, Gordon feels the key elements to past success and staying power will remain at the heart of Globus for generations to come.
“We know we have to stay focused on travel trends and needs as they evolve,” he said. “As we move into the next decade, we’ll find new opportunities to stay on top of it all. Our philosophy is that whenever we launch something, we’ve researched it thoroughly so that the quality is high from day one.”
Globus will also remain focused on agent partnerships.
“We realize that travel agents have always provided us great support with our products and destinations,” said Gordon. “We make it a point to go above and beyond to service these agents, interacting with them and doing what we can to make their lives easier.”
Underscoring Gordon’s direction, Born added that Globus is dedicated to making operations more streamlined and being the travel supplier that agents turn to for great products. And for travelers, the Globus mission is to enhance experiences by helping vacationers return home with unique stories and memories they couldn’t have created on their own exactly what Antonio Mantegazza dreamed of in 1928.
1927: Charles Lindbergh makes the first Trans-Atlantic flight.
1928: Antonio Mantegazza buys a rowboat and starts an empire on Lake Lugano.
1930: Mantegazza moves to land with a taxi service.
1933: Mantegazza wins the rights to operate a popular local route for the Swiss.
1944: Globus Viaggi acquires two competing coach companies.
1950: Globus’ portfolio expands to the French Riviera, Italy and more.
1959: Globus enters the U.S. market.
1961: Globus launches Cosmos.
1963: Globus launches its North American branch.
1968: Cosmos’ air holidays become so popular that Monarch Air is launched.
2003: Globus launches Avalon.
2008: Globus Family of Brands introduces Globus Platinum Collection.
Void of fanfare and hoopla, Globus is marking its 80th anniversary with smaller, more personal celebrations.
“We’re using this time to reflect on the relevance of the Globus Family of Brands,” said Jennifer Halboth, marketing director.
Additionally, the company has introduced its new Globus Platinum Collection. These guided vacations reach new levels with superior hotels in the heart of destinations and a leisurely pace that allows travelers to immerse themselves in local cultures. Globus has also introduced savings of up to $400 per couple on bookings made by May 31.
Platinum Collection: Tiffany pens are presented to agents making early bookings.
Recognition Dinners: Top producing agencies are honored in key markets.
Journey Club Member Discounts: Members receive coupons for $80 off any Globus Family of Brands air-inclusive vacation in 2008.
Top Agents Recognition: Globus sales team will nominate top agents based on their support and loyalty. Each will receive a personalized note and special gift.
80th Anniversary Book: This colorful chronicle of Globus, the travel industry at large, and the professional travel agent will be presented to key partners.
80 Tips: Agents and their clients can learn how to stretch their vacation dollar with handy tips at www.globusfamily.com/80.