We met up with Ricci Zukerman of Worldview Travel, in 2009, a challenging time for any business as the economy thrashed about in turmoil. But the floundering financial landscape didn’t fluster this Santa Ana, CA-based agency owner one bit. “When times get tough, opportunities abound,” she told us.
And abound they did. Zukerman forged ahead purchasing agencies; she had just completed transactions for Gayle Gillies Travel and Pisa Brothers Travel when we spoke; she followed up with five more purchases in the United States and Canada, a move she says has enabled her to “add some new talent.”
These were clearly sound business moves; in 2009, Worldview Travel’s annual sales were $200 million-plus; today, it’s $600 million.
With the growth of the business, Worldview hired a new president, Mike Dawson, to look after the daily operations and Zukerman became chairman of the company. She has since sold most of the company’s shares to TravelEdge, a technology enterprise she’d partnered with to build a new travel agent Internet system that brings air, cruise, hotel, activities and insurance all together. “We’re very excited about the launch of the air tool into the marketplace this year,” says Zukerman, who is still in the office every day and continues to support her travel advisors.
Since 2009, the day-to-day business has changed, it’s more complicated, Zukerman tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “Clients are very savvy and you need to go to many websites to find the absolute best price and added value. You have to be ready 24/7 to answer client requests. They want everything. Now.”
Worldview Travel is clearly ready to support client requests; consider a $400,000 itinerary it recently planned for clients going to Asia. They flew via Singapore Airlines, and visited Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, staying only in five-star hotels, naturally. Add-ons included massages, train rides, river cruises, bicycle riding and cooking classes.
Zukerman says that her favorite place is still Israel. She knows the country well, having lived there for 18 years after her family fled Poland during World War II. “A visit to Israel should be a life-altering experience. This can only happen if you use a specialist to that area,” she told us in 2009.
Zukerman has faced some health issues over the past few years and is thankful for the comradery of the luxury travel arena for helping her to get through:
“I want to use this opportunity to thank the travel agency community, for their care and support in the months I was battling brain cancer. I am well not the least because of their support,” she tells Luxury Travel Advisor.
We’re thrilled to hear the good news from this astute and caring businesswoman, who nurtures her team and supports them as much as she can. “We do not have control over what the world throws our way, only our decision of what to do with it,” Zukerman told us in 2009. “I believe people deserve to be treated in a straightforward and direct manner, which some may feel is too direct. But that’s the only way I know how to be. To be myself.”