When Maria Polk and Joe King attended the very first Internet Business Conference hosted by NetExpo West in 1995 at the San Francisco Marriott very few travel marketing professionals were interested in the Internet. At that time, travel was at an all-time high, business was booming and the internet buzz was a new language understood by only the techies. Joe King was interested in using the internet to promote travel. Sending travel brochures to travel agencies and consumers was becoming too expensive, paper cost and postage was again increasing, and the Internet seemed like a good alternative. Joe and Maria had extensive backgrounds in the travel industry both in running large corporate travel offices as well as hotel sales and administration. They just knew the web would be a natural ally for the travel industry, and they were surprised there wasn't anyone else excited about its potential.
Since that time, the core mission has stayed the same-providing a trusted global directory of tour operators and as the internet grew its capabilities and its connection to the travel industry, so did tours.com. "When we started two decades ago, no one was able to produce and distribute all this information worldwide and gathering it all in one spot for consumption. You had to pay a lot for this information piecemeal and it came to you in the form of thick, tabbed books or individual brochures, which were outdated shortly after you would receive them, sometime before due to currently fluctuations. With the Internet we pioneered a different and more accessible way for travel agents as well as consumers to get this information worldwide, anytime," said Maria Polk, owner and co-founder of Tours.com.
Today, the company that started before email was a given in people's lives tours.com stands as an authority site with the only comprehensive directory of tour operators and vacation providers, searchable by destination, desired activity or company name. Their motto "Any Country and Every Type of Vacation/Tour Activity" still stands (with the exception of Syria and North Korea due to US government regulations). Through sophisticated search algorithms, the site connects travel agents and would be travelers to just the vacation or tour operator they seek from an inventory of thousands of possibilities around the globe.
"For a while, no one took us seriously," says Polk. "The trade was used to the massive bible of tour operators, The Official Tour Directory, and the consumer was hooked on the colorful brochures they found at brick and mortar travel agencies. Although the paper brochures to the travel industry and consumers have been substantially downsized, the need for accurate up to date information on line, and through knowledgeable travel agents has never been stronger." Recently, Tours.com became a strategic partner of ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, and the largest and most enduring travel trade professional association in the world. For the last 5 years, Tours.com also publishes Travel-Intel, a digital travel news and destination magazine that reaches approximately 103,000+ travel agents every week with the latest trends in travel.
"Looking back from our very beginning in 1995 to the present day, the obstacles at times seemed overwhelming. But Joe King, helped kept our focus. Our history is essentially the history of the internet and travel, from the bubble, burst, Y2K, 911, recession, war, the launch of social networking, mortgage and global bank failure and now ISIS and those are just the highlights," stated Polk.
About Tours.com: Tours.com Since 1995 -- The Only Worldwide Directory of Tours & Vacation -- the most comprehensive directory of tour and vacation providers searchable by company name, destination and/or activity. Travel Resource section includes all the information a travel professional may need from Passport & Visas, Travel Insurance, Accommodations (B&B, castles, villas and more, etc.), Cruises, Barges, Boats, Yachts & Ferries, Rail & Railroad Vacations, just to name a few.
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Contact: Maria Polk President & CEO Tours.com Phone: 415-332-7916 [email protected]
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