ALPHARETTA, Ga. — In an age where more and more services move online for convenience, Aladdin Travel Services CFO Richard Gerber says customers can find more offers and security in person.
Both woman- and veteran-owned, Alpharetta-based Aladdin Travel Services has been serving the Atlanta area since 1987 when it was started by Gail Laddin. It provides a variety of travel services, including air travel, cruises, wellness and relaxation trips, safaris and more. It is now owned by President Valerie Gerber.
They haven’t slowed down since the start. Richard estimates the company processes about 180,000 bookings each year for individuals and corporate clients, including film agencies.
The success is partially because of the advantages a brick-and-mortar travel company has over online versions, he said.
One of the biggest issues the company has seen is misrepresentation online.
“They try to be ethical, I think, and they try to do things with integrity,” Richard said. “But there are occasions where people run into problems, and there’s no recourse… Online, once you send, you send, and you’re finished. If you run into any problems, you’re out of luck.”
Leisure and film agent Kelli Hardy said she has seen many cases where someone books a trip, but when they get to the hotel, the room’s flooded, or there’s cockroaches everywhere, or the property is not at the waterfront as advertised. And there’s often no options in such situations for online bookings, she said.
Aladdin Travel Services, however, can provide help in such cases.
“There’s always going to be problems with travel, but we can minimize that and intercede on your behalf,” Richard said. “We can act as an intermediary and take care of things if you have a problem, because we know the people at the properties, the vendors involved.”
Security, likewise, is a big part of their business, especially for their corporate clients, and it can’t be found with online companies, Richard said.
“We can ensure that wherever you go, we are aware of any precautions that need to take place, and we can advise you on that,” Richard said. “If there is any issue that takes place, we can extract you and get you to a safe place.”
A brick-and-mortar travel company can also help people save money, Richard added.
As a member of several travel associations, Aladdin Travel Services has access to special discounts and promotions through suppliers.
“We have buying power to leverage deals you can’t find online,” Richard said.
Similarly, the company employs travel agents specialized in different areas who are familiar with various companies and can plan entire trips.
“They take you on a more intimate experience,” Richard said. “Whatever you want to do, it can be customized for you.”
Customized trips, for example, can include cooking classes in a rustic setting that help immerse travelers in that country’s culture. Some of the company’s more popular trips and tours are off the beaten path, in places like Iceland, Ireland and Croatia. Yoga retreats to areas like Southeast Asia have also taken off in the past few years.
“There’s so many places in the world,” Richard said. “The hardest part is deciding where you want to go and what you want to do.”
With every booking, Richard and his team provides several travel documents along with information like packing checklists, the destination’s currency and voltage, and sites to see.
“Why do people travel?” Richard said. “They want to escape. They want to be with their families. They want to learn and challenge themselves… It’s eye-opening and makes you appreciate how these other cultures live. It expands your horizon and makes you more sensitive to the way the world is.”
For more information about Aladdin Travel Services, visit aladdintravelservices.com.