DB: Where are you?
JH: Mexico City. We operate a traditional travel agency where we serve a number of clients like auto suppliers, universities, and other businesses, but we also have an event management division — so if an automaker is arranging a trip and multiple events as part of a dealer rewards program, for example, we plan everything for any destination they desire.
DB: What’s going on in Mexico City?
JH: In addition to our business clients, we organize and operate educational tours, adult tours, and family excursions. On this trip, we have a group that wanted to visit and volunteer their time at Our Lady of Guadalupe orphanage. The orphanage has around 3,000 girls who have been found in some of the poorest parts of the city, and some of the girls don’t know what a fork is; they have no real hygiene skills. The school (at the orphanage) trains and teaches the girls about the modern world, and our group visits them and has an opportunity to help out.
DB: How has the travel industry evolved?
JH: The Internet had an effect on our business early on (in the late 1990s), but not really anymore.
DB: How so?
JH: If you’re an executive booking your own flight, and let’s say you’re in Mexico City and your flight has been canceled, who are you going to call to get back to Detroit the next morning for an important business meeting? In this example, you will be competing with everyone else to book a new flight. But if you work with a travel agency, we have systems in place where we know your flight has been canceled before the news is made public. We work behind the scenes to get you on another flight before the general public knows what’s happening.
DB: What other trends are you seeing?
JH: Quite a number of executives are taking their kids on their business trips as a way to open their children’s eyes to the world. We do organized school tours, or we plan and arrange trips for grandparents and their grandkids. The trips can be relaxing or very hands-on in terms of educational activities.