Collette Vacations President and CEO Dan Sullivan, Jr., was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Travel Weekly’s Readers’ Choice Awards last week.
“To be recognized by my peers in the industry, by travel writers, by travel professionals, from airlines to tour operators, it’s an honor,” Sullivan told TMR.
With more than 40 years in the industry, Sullivan said the ever-evolving world of travel has kept his work fresh.
“It’s changing faster than ever before. It has always changed, but now it’s at a more rapid pace because of technology. The mode of travel is so different; it’s so immersive and experiential. It’s always changing. In the beginning, we were selling motor coach tours, and now people want to fly everywhere.”
Sullivan helped lead the company from a small regional supplier to an international tour operator. The Pawtucket, R.I.-based company now operates 160 tours to destinations on all seven continents.
He also chairs the Collette Foundation board, a global nonprofit aimed at giving children across the world opportunities to thrive through education and initiatives to end hunger.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, Collette is the oldest tour operator in the U.S. The company was founded by Jack Collette in 1918, offering trips to New Englanders for an escape from the winter.
The late Dan Sullivan, Sr., bought then-named Collette Tours in 1962, and it has been in the family ever since. Dan Jr. began taking over day-to-day operations in the late 1980s, and then took over as president and CEO in 1990.
The next generation of Sullivan’s, his children, continue the tradition. His older daughter, Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, is the executive vice president of product and tour management; while his younger daughter, Nicole Diebold, is the manager of corporate social responsibility marketing.
Sullivan said “leadership within the family mixed with great talent outside the family in all facets of business” has helped maintain the company’s success over the years.
Travel Weekly also honored two other industry veterans with Lifetime Achievement Awards: Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1995 to 2016; and Barry Liben, chairman of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group.