For your next company retreat or in-depth training, Chuck Olson said you should consider a setting that provides meals, accommodations, meeting rooms and off-hours activities, all for about $100 per day per person. Cruises out of Galveston and Houston ports are plentiful and affordable from September to April, according to the owner of Chuck Olson Tours & Cruises.
“Cruising is a great value for your money, an all-inclusive retreat. Right here in our back yard, some wonderful ships go out: Princess, Holland America, Carnival, and next year, Norwegian Cruises,” the same ships that go out of Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, he said. A balcony room on a seven night cruise costs less than $100 per day. An added benefit is that it is not easy to get cell phone connections at sea, so conference participants have fewer distractions.
Olson and his wife Enid set up the company in 1993, two years after he had organized a trip for friends at a Paradise Park in Pharr. At the time, Olson was a concert singer, giving performances of Broadway and Christian music in Winter Texan communities and in his native Iowa. The first trip was such a success, he was asked to do it again and again.
“The first few years after we opened, we were very dependent on Winter Texans as our clients,” said Olson, at work in polo shirt, slacks and sandals. “We’ve grown and are now dealing with families, the Mexican market, and individuals. We sell more cruises than anything else. They are about 65% of our business. The rest is land trips and group travel.”
Olson encourages his clients to do their research on the Internet and then come to his Tenth Street office. “We firmly believe that the price on the Internet is not always the better price,” he explained. “We’re your advocate. You get an answer from us. We are here if any problem or situation arises during your trip. We want you to have a wonderful experience. “
When the Internet came on the scene, Olson said many bricks-and-mortar travel agencies predicted the end of the industry. Numerous travel offices did close, but Olson persisted because he diversified and found viable niches.
“We don’t sit here and wait for the phone to ring,” said Olson, who keeps the company in the public eye by exhibiting at numerous Valley expos. Chuck Olson Tours and Cruises is also the travel provider for Lone Star Bank’s six Legacy Clubs for seniors. “That has been good for us, getting us exposure and some business, too,” he said.
For more of this story by Eileen Mattei, pick up a copy of the September print edition of Valley Business Report or visit the “Current & Past Issues” tab on this Web site.