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Think Big and Be Bold: The Allan Brothers

Managing Maxima Tours is a family affair. Brothers Jason Allan and Damon Allan began working at the family business in 2009 and have transformed the tour company. Their family values affect the way they conduct business and communicate with their clients.

The brothers are keenly aware of the changes within the group travel industry. There have been demographic shifts. Young retirees aren't as apt to travel in larger groups as they had been in the past. Tour options need to reflect this change. "The more successful companies will be more creative with titling their tours and what kinds of services they offer, including free time options. With the brothers at the helm, specific travel groups are being targeted and new travel destinations are being presented. "We get really excited with any new destination we offer."

Damon notes that while there's nothing like working in travel, it's not always rosy: They have to work hard to earn the benefits. That said, he and Jason believe the company is ahead of the curve.

Jason Allan and Damon Allan are respectively Managing Director and Operations Manager of Maxima Tours, the company their mother, Gemma Allan, founded in 1989 after having worked elsewhere in the travel industry. Maxima Tours became a family business in 2009, when the brothers came onboard. Both have a marketing background, and diving into the "experience industry" came naturally to them. The Allans transformed the company into a family-friendly business, putting their family values up front in how they do business and communicate with their customers.

Working in the travel industry benefits Jason and Damon personally and professionally, helping them strike a balance in their lives. "There's nothing like working in travel," Damon notes, "but as we all know, it's not always rosy—we have to work hard to earn the benefits of travel." The greatest is providing a service that creates experiences for people; to see the "wow" and overjoyed expressions on their faces, they say, is priceless.

The brothers find sustainability—in its current form—a challenge, and think some in the industry are missing the boat. "The group travel industry of tomorrow is different from what it was even five years ago." They note a demographic shift, and changes to the group makeup. Younger retirees aren't necessarily willing right off to travel in larger groups, so marketing to them needs to change. "The more successful companies will be more creative with titling their tours and what kinds of services they offer, including free time options."

Maxima Travel embraces opportunities, targeting niche markets such as retirement or active living communities and bank travel clubs, and presenting newer destinations such as its Maltese Islands product. "Since our mother was born in Malta and we are both nationals, it made perfect sense for us to introduce 'our Malta' to North Americans." Maxima today has the best Malta itinerary for the cultural enthusiast, and for those who like traveling in small groups with a personal, non-tourist feel. "We really get excited with any new destination that we offer." The Allans primarily sell their own tours, which they've researched, yet have opened up to working with other tour operators to offer their customers more variety. "Tour operators have to look to other similar businesses in teaming up to sell tours, in some cases." Maxima has achieved early success through a partnership with Travel Alliance Partners (TAP).

Jason and Damon feel people would say Maxima Tours is ahead of the curve. "We have received recognition for years as being a top company. We confidentially boast the best tour directors in the industry—bar none. Damon has recently received recognition as being one of the Top 10 Under 40 in the Group Travel Industry." And they offer advice to those entering the industry.

"Be creative and think outside of the box. Don't think along the lines of the traditional group traveler: Think big and be bold with your ideas—be that trailblazer."

Original article written by Amy L Charles, editorial director for Groups Today magazine. Visit Groups Today to read other informative articles.



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