CRC Travel celebrated its 25th anniversary in May and today reaps $15 million annually in revenue; that’s up from $9.5 million in February 2007, when we first profiled this Chicago-based luxury travel agency, headed by its irreverent, but ever-so-serious owner and president, Peter Carideo.
Those who know Carideo always smile when they think of him; he’s warm, friendly and has a wicked sense of humor. But make no mistake, the trips he and his team produce are over the top; we’re talking the best suites in the best hotels coupled with private yacht charters and jets for some of the wealthiest people in the world.
Carideo tells us that he’s “still crazy after all these years and that business is good.” The best part, however, is on the personal front: “After 24 years together and it becoming legal in Illinois, my partner Mark and I were married in November 2014 with family and close friends in the Presidential Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago. I am still smiling,” says Carideo.
On the business front, CRC Travel is booking more custom itineraries these days for its elite clientele; he and his advisors have also embraced working remotely. “A change of venue does refresh the soul,” he says.
Four years ago, CRC Travel incorporated Majesty Travel of New Jersey; its president, Rebecca Spina; and some additional independent contractors into its agency. “It’s been an amazing partnership with Rebecca bringing cruise and tour skills that enhance our portfolio,” says Carideo, who adds that CRC Travel has been a member of the Signature Travel Network since 2008. “Signature is more in line with our goals and thinking and the type of business we concentrate on,” he notes.
The agency no longer takes every piece of business that comes its way, either. “We truly understand what we bring to the table for clients and that we cannot please all or be all things to all people. We now have the confidence to turn business away if it doesn’t fit our model or if we feel we cannot service it properly,” says Carideo. The company now employs a part-time social media/marketing person who works in tandem with Signature's marketing group to expand its reach in generating new clients through referrals and visibility.
This luxury travel advisor just planned a three-week private jet trip through Africa, the UAE and Europe for a client who took over the entire Africa House at Royal Malewane for three guests. They also stayed in the Penthouse Apartment at One & Only Cape Town. “The logistics at times were daunting but exhilarating to plan, especially navigating the jet into Rwanda,” says Carideo.
His own travel took him to London where he fell in love with the new Beaumont hotel. “I was blown away by the spectacular recreation of the Art Deco furniture and the clubby ‘speak easy’ feel of the property. In great contrast, I spent some time at Firmdale’s Ham Yard Hotel where the generous use of vibrant color and the incorporation of artwork into the hotel are amazing.”
Then there was that trip to the Maldives where Carideo discovered firsthand the “No Shoes, No News” attitude. “I am trying diligently to incorporate this mantra into my daily life,” he jokes.