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CEO on the go blog 3

Where Does a CEO Travel with His Family? The Inside Scoop on Sullivan Family Travel Destinations

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by Nicole Diebold

March 06, 2018

5 minute read

Photo Credit: Moments by Mackenzie

In this third part of a 12-part series, we sat down with our President and CEO, Dan Sullivan, Jr., the ardent world traveller at the helm of this 100-year-old company, to talk about Travelling with his family. As a family-owned and operated company, travel is literally a part of their legacy – and exploring the world together and individually is something they all are inspired to do.

What are your family’s favourite destinations?

That’s hard to say, and obviously we each could probably give a different response. One thing we agree on is that as busy as we can get, we try to do a trip together once a year. We were recently in New York City for a weekend getaway around Christmastime. We went to Radio City Music Hall, saw a Broadway show, visited the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There are so many great things to see and do on a New York City travel tour, you just can’t go wrong there. Something special about that trip was that we were able to bring some of my grandchildren – all those over the age of three. They loved walking around the city, seeing the Rockettes, seeing the tree at Rockerfeller all lit; it’s always great seeing places you’ve been to so many times through the eyes of children as they realize the joys of going to new places.

My family has travelled to Ireland numerous times, where my father’s family is from. The first time we all went together and met locals as well as some cousins that live on the Ring of Kerry. We visited Scotland and went to the Isle of Skye and Edinburgh. We love American history, so we went from New York to Washington, visited Williamsburg and Gettysburg. I have wonderful memories of visiting Mackinac Island and sitting on the front porch of the Grand Hotel with my kids when they were younger; sitting there looking over the straits always reminds of the movie Somewhere in Time.

How do you plan your family trips?

I’m very involved in the planning of our family trips. In general, our family does Collette programs and sometimes we combine a couple of different tours. I’ve been creating travel experiences for people all my life, and I treat my family and our Collette guests the same. It always has to be the best, most immersive experience, full of history, great cuisine, free time to explore and rich cultural experiences.

What is most important about your family trips?

It’s really important to me that our family experiences the product of Collette. This company is in our family history and it’s a huge part of shaping who we are; travel has the power to shape lives and broaden your own world. Our guests live the Collette experience every single day. The family wants to always connect to that and understand it on all levels. Unless you experience our tours, you don’t truly know how great these programs are, even if you’ve been surrounded by the company for your whole life. You have to be there to truly realize you’re on the trip of a lifetime because it’s always better than what you see in videos or read about in books. It becomes a part of you and you always want to go back.

Do your family trips ever inspire you to bring certain experiences to Collette?

Always. Travelling with my family reminds me that there are some experiences that appeal to a wider audience. For example, bicycling in Vietnam is something that appeals to a younger audience as well as some older people. I’m always looking for a different experience and Travelling with a diverse age group like my family helps inspire me.

What are your most memorable travel experiences?

It’s hard to choose. The first one that comes to mind is when I set up the Australia and New Zealand tour in the 1980’s. We never set up a tour without experiencing it ourselves, so when you’re designing a tour, you explore everything. When you really immerse yourself in the culture, you see spectacular sights and discover wonderful restaurants that you just can’t wait to share with people.

All of these experiences change the way you think about things. Enjoying dinner and a show at the Sydney Opera House, going to the Outback where it feels like you’re in a different world, driving the backroads of New Zealand and around the West coast with glaciers on one side, exploring a rainforest – the diversity and beauty in Australia and New Zealand can take your breath away and when I set up that tour, I was there for weeks, left no stone unturned, and I’ve been back countless times since, still discovering new gems. Maybe that will be our next family vacation…

Does your family have the same excitement for travel that you do?

Absolutely. My brother tour guides multiple trips a year and always our family trip. My daughter as well as my niece work in Product development and get on the road creating great experiences for our guests. To do that job, you have to love exploration in general. Quite a few family members are active in various parts of the company, and all of us share a love of seeing this world together. And now, seeing a new generation grow up Travelling will be so much fun – I can’t wait to see new places and old favorites through their eyes.

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