March 21, 2013

Holiday Travel of America Celebrates 25th Anniversary

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Reprinted from the April 2013 edition of Resort Trades, the news journal for Resort Development Professionals.

Making Connections; Establishing Relationships

How a travel incentive company has been putting a smile on millions of faces for 25 years.

Last summer, Scott C. and his new bride, Sandy, were making plans for their once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. They had received a travel voucher after touring a timeshare resort and Holiday Travel of America was going to make sure they experienced the trip of their lives. Holiday Travel’s voucher gave them a number of options. …and, their choice? Honolulu. Talk about a high-demand destination: With controlled inventory during an always busy summer season, a travel company can’t get a bigger challenge. But Holiday Travel wasn’t going to disappoint….They came through with an absolutely gorgeous, beachfront property!

This type of dedication to their clients’ customer satisfaction has been a major tenet of how Holiday Travel has done business since the company’s inception on March 21st 1988. There’s more to running a successful travel incentive company than meets the eye. “Sometimes I think we make it look too easy,” says Holiday Travel President and CEO Rich Romanello. “We’re providing an affordable, effective and attractive travel incentive to our resort clients. To remain a superior company, we must make sure the economics of our product development is designed with use in mind.”

Key #1: Win-win relationships

Romanello started the company working out of his home in La Jolla. Within months, he opened offices in La Jolla and kept expanding, finally purchasing a large building on 2.5 acres in Carlsbad, California. One of the primary reasons for Holiday Travel’s success is the ability to excel in the art of building relationships. It takes a special knack to manage dynamic affiliations, as Romanello learned in his early years as a nightclub owner, concert promoter and artists' manager. He left the music industry with a few gold records in the late ‘60s. By utilizing the promotional experience he had gathered, he designed marketing programs to sell recreational land, campground sites and later, timeshare ownership.

Key #2: A Strong Bench

“Throughout Holiday Travel’s 25 years we’ve been privileged to work with exemplary people,” says Romanello. “We are proud to have an Advisory Board made up of such tenured and well respected icons in the industry as Joe McAdams and Joe Hutchings.”

The Executive Vice President Randy Fish ARP*, having been with the company since 2000, handles business and client relationship management, as well as new product development. Another key executive is Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer Anne White, who joined Holiday Travel in 1997, coming from having served for many years in a prominent CFO position with a major corporation.

Given the longevity of the management team, combined with their talent, know-how and ‘can-do’ attitudes, the individuals make for a solid bench. Customer Service Manager Fern Vojnovich, has more than 20 years of timeshare industry experience. Vojnovich says, “Our goal in customer service is to make each certificate holder’s validation a smooth experience. Our performance in this regard is what took our BBB rating to an ‘A+.’” 

Credit for this high rate of customer satisfaction must be shared with General Manager Estela Frias, who has been with the company for 18 years and oversees the fulfillment of all travel offers. Assisting Frias is Nuvia Preciado, the company’s fulfillment supervisor, who has been with Holiday Travel for 13 years. Ellinor Mason, office manager, human resources and executive assistant, has been with the company five years and handles multiple responsibilities while making it look easy.

“Our company is our people,” says Romanello. “Because of them, we continue to evolve….We keep getting better and better.”

Key #3: Creativity

“Having a rich network of relationships supported by a great team, those are two principles that have led to our success. The third principle is creativity,” says Fish. “We use research and customer feedback to help us design innovative customized sales and marketing solutions. We continuously work with clients to test, improve and enhance their incentive programs.”

When Romanello launched the company 25 years ago, he was able to pull from a rich reservoir of experience; having managed some of the largest volume land, campground and timeshare sales operations in the industry and being responsible for many mega-million-dollar years. “Building that volume of business called for an enormous amount of creativity,” he says. “It’s this ongoing creativity we put into the products for today’s relationships.”

“Speaking of creativity, more and more consumers are demanding online access,” says Fish. “Most recently, we have created a booking engine that allows the customer to reserve their vacations with convenient, 24/7, user-friendly service.”

Bottom Line: Credibility

Fish mentions that the company’s credibility is an especially important component of their success. “Holiday Travel complies with the State of California regulations that state we must place all consumer deposits in a non-interest-bearing client trust account,” he says. “This sets us apart from competitors in other states, as we are required to answer to a higher standard than most. The fact that we are legally required to use trust accounts, rather than commingling these funds with our operating money, really makes our integrity unassailable. It helps account for our client list, which includes some well-known names: American Express, A & P Foods, Amana, Nob Hill Foods, Healthy Choice, Kodak, Meijer Supper Stores, Weight Watchers, Tropicana Twister, Global Exchange Vacation Club, Starpoint Resort Group, Shell Vacations Club, Travel to Go and Welk Resorts. Holiday Travel has the distinction to have been the only incentive travel company to have developed a specific package with Walt Disney Resorts.”

“Performance, credibility and integrity are why we have had satisfied clients for decades,” says Romanello. “For example, our customer service has been so consistent that Shell Vacations has been a client for 24 years and the Welk Resort Group for 18, to name a few.”

“Plus, there are our long-term relationships with suppliers and other key organizations,” adds Fish, “such as maintaining our preferential status with the Official NASCAR Members Club, the Airline Reporting Corporation, the International Travel Agent Network, the American Society of Travel Agents and Cruise Lines International Association. Our reputation has enabled us to negotiate with cruise and airline companies for permission to be self-approving logo users. It’s a distinction that is all but unheard of; it’s an extremely valuable and unusual privilege.”

"Consistent delivery of a sound product sums it up,” adds Romanello. “We resolve travelers’ problems immediately and then find the cause so it doesn't happen again. No finger pointing! 

“We’ve worked hard to develop great relationships with providers and clients for the last 25 years. These are some of the attributes that have earmarked Holiday Travel of America for success.”

*Randy Fish is an Associate Resort Professional with the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) in Washington, DC.

Look for Holiday Travel of America on LinkedIn:





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