Traveline celebrates its 50 years in business on Thursday, Sept 27, with a party from 4 to 8 p.m. beneath a tent erected at their Lawnfield Inn, at Mentor Ave and Route 615 in Mentor. Food will be catered by Skye, which has evolved into a dining out favorite for many inside the inn. Step into the tent to sample the yummies and to wish Traveline founder Arline Kneen the best but also be sure to go into the hotel's lobby where a chocolate fountain will be bubbling with dessert bites.
When I asked Rob Kneen for a little history about how Traveline came to be, he responded with this fond recollection:
Traveline was started in 1962 as
a result of the fact that my parents, Bob and Arline, unlike most couples in
the 60’s who spent their money on bigger finned cars and split level homes,
spent every available disposable dime on travel. Even before being in the
travel business, travel was their greatest pleasure and they included us kids
in the fun. When I was 9, they took me and my sisters out of school early,
loaded our old Fold Falcon on a tramp Cunard Line steamer and we spent 4 months
of the summer of 1962 traveling throughout Europe, staying in hostels,
pensions, and the occasional traditional hotel. Their friends came to know them
as the couple to call to find out the best hotel in Paris or where to dine in Rome.
They were historians, making sure that we saw many of the most renown battle
grounds of WW II, the most beautiful museums – they even took us as kids to
visit a concentration camp to make sure we understood how out of control man’s
inhumanity to man could actually get. A searing image in my mind to this day.
Upon their return, my mother received SO many calls for travel recommendations
that she thought “Hey, I could get paid to do this if I opened a travel agency!
Why not get paid for what we love doing most.” As in most businesses, It was a
touch and go during the first two years after opening their original office in
downtown Willoughby. But my mother has an unsinkable Molly Brown quality
and was determined to make a go of it. Businesses that survive from start-up
require a classic entrepreneur who understand that building a business means
leaving the Nine to Five mentality behind, doing what you need to do – as well
as having your kids learn some aspects of the business as part of their daily
chores. I was taught how to hand write airline tickets at our breakfast table
at home, while getting my first car – a 1958 Ford – was contingent upon me
stopping by the office each day to deliver those tickets. Some of the people
who helped us in the old days are still there today. For example, Sue Voyten
has been with the company for 46 of our 50 years learning the business from the
ground up and developing a clientele that now call her from around the world.
Having joined the company myself full time in 1975 – choosing the travel
business over law school – I have been fortunate to have a boss who is both my
mom and a business partner who has allowed me the freedom and the flexibility
to take risks with new technologies and opening new areas in which to market our
services ranging from New York to Northern California. Today, thanks to a keen
eye on bringing new and young people into the company, we’ve been able to
flourish in the era of super technology and the internet. Here’s a unique
statistic. Traveline was on the internet before there even WAS an Orbitz, a
Travelocity or an Expedia. Our key to success has always been maintaining that
unique blend of technology and skilled human interaction.
Labels: 50 years, family travel, travel agent