How many times have you been streaming a show and been struck by an awe-inspiring scene or other-worldly landscape? Well someone had to book the travel for the film or TV crew and actors to get to that location, right? It’s travel management leaders like Richard Meyerson who are meeting that need - and bringing in the big bucks in the process.
Meyerson is president of Traveltrust, a travel management company based in Encinitas, California, with 22 employees across the country, and four satellite offices (in St. Petersburg, FL; London and Manchester, UK; and Hong Kong).
Traveltrust has specialized in corporate, meeting, and group travel since 1983, and they continue to profitably serve that market segment. Then in 2016, the company’s executive vice president came across a new opportunity to book travel for the film and TV business, and without delay, by 2017 they added an entertainment division to their travel management services.
The team at Traveltrust has handled the travel arrangements for between 20 and 1,000 people per film or TV project, to places like Hawaii; Bogota, Colombia; and Atlanta, Georgia. We wish we could share some of the movies and shows they’ve been involved with, and the travel budgets, but that’s all hush-hush (it is the entertainment business, after all!).
Essential workers plus 24/7 service plus referrals equals success
One of the reasons this niche has been so profitable for Traveltrust is that “unlike corporate travel, TV and film travel does not slow down during the holidays and other typically slower times - especially during the pandemic, as entertainers were considered essential workers. Think about how all of us were sitting at home needing some diversions!” explains Meyerson.
Demands are high when you’re dealing with Hollywood and the networks. Travel arrangements for staff and equipment must always be managed precisely and run like clockwork because, in the entertainment industry, “time costs money. They hire local crews for filming, staging, catering, etc., and if the principal actors/crew are not there, then the ‘show cannot go on’ - and all the waiting around costs money,” says Meyerson.
“The expectation by the TV/movie crew is that you never sleep and are always available,” he adds.
That understanding of and dedication to meeting clients’ needs is a critical part of the equation, and why Meyerson says one of his firm’s secrets to success is its people. “Our employees average 21 years with Traveltrust, and are the reason we have made it almost 40 years in the industry!” he says. “Each employee feels like they own the business, and all seem to have an innate desire to keep the company going and being more successful each day, so they do whatever it takes to make that happen. Decisions are made at their desk.”
Further demonstrating Traveltrust’s commitment to providing over-the-top service, when asked his best piece of advice for other travel advisors, Meyerson said: “Think of the level of service you have received from a vendor when you have been the customer, that was memorable. Exceed that, and your clients will be yours for life.”
He gave an example of how his team routinely surpasses expectations. When one of their client’s flights was canceled, she was blown away when she received a call from her Traveltrust agent to tell her that they had already protected her by putting her on another flight - and she was good to go. Needless to say, that client was ever grateful.
Having fully satisfied clients is especially important in the entertainment industry, where personal referrals most often do business. “We are proud that our freelance clients take us with them when they jump on a new project,” says Meyerson, whose primary method of marketing for their entertainment travel niche is by word of mouth.
Meyerson began his career as a tour operator and meeting coordinator in 1977. After settling in San Diego, he opened the first Traveltrust in 1982, which has remained a fully independent agency for 39 years. Meyerson has witnessed the radical transformation of the travel industry over the past four decades. Shifting as necessary with market changes, he and his international team continue to work hard to provide high-quality, comprehensive travel services to their valued clients in both the corporate world and the entertainment arena.
How fortuitous that a senior member of Traveltrust’s team discovered a lucrative travel niche, back in 2016, that expanded their reach into a secondary market. It’s a good reminder to keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and alliances as we move into 2023.