Steve Uelner hopes you're looking for trip of a lifetime
Travel agency prefers to stray from the typical tour
Steve Uelner was at a career crossroads late last year when World Wide Country Tours, the travel agency he had worked at for the past 25 years, shuttered its doors. Fortunately, however, his former clients pointed him in the right direction.
"When Reader's Digest, the owner of WWCT, decided to get out of the travel business, I heard from several longtime customers who implored me to keep the business going," said Uelner, who responded in January by opening Country Travel Discoveries.
"For the first two weeks I was working out of my home office, but it didn't matter where I was calling from because our clientele had so much trust and faith in us. They couldn't wait to plan their next vacations, and that's made for a fairly seamless transition for all of us."
Uelner, along with a handful of former travel industry colleagues, soon relocated the business to Elm Grove and continued booking tours to the out-of-the-way destinations popular with his WWCT customers.
"We stay away from traditional tourist sites like Cancun and Las Vegas," said Uelner, president and managing director of Country Travel Discoveries. "Rather, the backbone of our business is taking people to places they couldn't go to with other travel agencies or on their own - like pineapple farms in Hawaii or a dairy farm in rural Germany. We'll take customers to Arizona and they'll rave to me more about experiencing life on a cattle ranch than seeing the Grand Canyon."
According to Uelner, Country Travel Discoveries has already reserved trips for 1,000 customers this year - well ahead of projections. While about half of the bookings are from repeat travelers, the company's core customer base will have to expand in order for the agency to achieve long-term success.
"Currently, the average age of our clients is 66, but our goal is to also market to people in their 50s, who want more experiential and interactive travel tours," he said. "These could be to family reunions, friends traveling together on health and wellness trips, or culinary experiences."
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JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Country Travel Discoveries
ADDRESS: 13500 Watertown Plank Road, Suite 107, Elm Grove
PHONE: (262) 923-8121
TYPE OF BUSINESS: travel agency
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