Jim Strong of Dallas-based Strong Travel Services wowed all of us in the luxury arena when he produced an off-Broadway comedy in 2014 called “Craving for Travel.” Based on a “typical” day in the life of a travel agent, the play earned Strong worldwide attention as he tasted success with many sold out performances. Meanwhile, his mother and business partner, Nancy Strong, has enjoyed her own wealth of fun personal news; last October, her husband, Ace, presented her with a new two-bedroom condo at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Dallas. “She is enjoying every moment in her new palace in the sky with a phone that goes directly to room service,” reports Jim.
Meanwhile, Strong Travel, a Virtuoso agency, continues to flourish, enjoying “meaningful” growth, even during the economy's tough years. The numbers speak for themselves; when we profiled the business in August 2008 it was garnering more than $30 million in revenue a year. That number now tops $40 million.
“We give a great deal of credit to our outstanding team and our ability to provide unique experiences to our clients with a consistently professional relationship,” says Jim. Strong Travel is taking a careful look at its client portfolio to be able to focus on those who want a truly quality experience, or in Jim’s words: “We’re being very surgical in accessing the value of each client and working to secure those clients who provide the best possible ROI.”
Both Nancy and Jim are frequently on the road; Nancy happily attended the grand reopening festivities of The Goring hotel in London. She also just returned from Paris, where she stayed in the “apartments” at the Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris; dined at “the outstanding Peninsula and its new restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc looking out at the Eiffel Tower; and lunched on the terrace at La Reserve “which feels like a private club.” Frequent visits to Manhattan saw her having drinks at the new Baccarat Hotel (you’re in the lap of luxury when your toothbrush glass is made of baccarat crystal, she tells us). When she returns to her roots in New York's Hudson Valley, she always makes time to visit the new Spa at Glenmere, which she calls, “an outstanding hideaway.”
Jim also just visited Paris where he was pleased to see the amount of attention being given to the redo of the Hotel de Crillon, and also pleasantly surprised by the new Hotel Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel: “It’s a mid-level premium brand in Paris with stunning views,” he reports. Most recently, he visited St. Barth to survey hotel improvements on the island. He also continues to meet with top hotel executives around the world to keep an ear to future pipelines.
The Strongs are super discreet about their clientele, but they’re still obviously providing stellar service to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and uber-affluent clients around the world (think private jets, cultural travelers and art collectors).
Jim happily reports that his son, James, 23, just graduated from the University of Mississippi with a major in Hospitality Management. He’s done internships at Valerie Wilson Travel, SeaSong in Istanbul and the Corinthia Hotel in London. Strong Travel has launched an endowment at the University of Mississippi Hospitality School for the advancement of the program; Jim speaks there several times a year to enlighten the students to the possibility of selling travel as an advisor.