Wake Forest MBA graduate now running one of the largest online U.S. travel agencies

2.17.2013 Alumni News, Article

Wake Forest alumnus succeeds with one of largest online U.S. travel agencies

Reposted from Winston-Salem Journal | by Richard Craver

Identifying an entrepreneurial niche – providing a one-stop planning site for budget travelers – and staying fresh with innovations enables Winston-Salem native Alan Fox to run one of the largest online U.S. travel agencies — Vacations To Go.

Fox earned his bachelor’s and master’s of business administration degrees from Wake Forest University, graduating from the Babcock Graduate School of Management in 1981.

After a stint working in the airline industry, Fox and the former president of Texas International Airlines, Robert Carney, formed Vacations To Go in May 1984.

Their strategy was convincing airlines, hotels, tour operators and cruise lines that they were better off slashing their rates at the last minute than letting unsold inventory go empty. The businessmen connected the travel industry with flexible vacationers who could leave on a moment’s notice with deeply discounted international travel opportunities.

Initial success led the businessmen to launch the magazines Vacations in 1987 (300,000 circulation), Travel 50 & Beyond in 1990 (115,000 circulation) and Where to Retire in 1992 (200,000 circulation).

Their business got another surge in 1999 when it launched www.VacationsToGo.com. Recently, it began offering early-bird discounts to people who want to book vacations in advance.

Fox said the company sells more ocean-going cruises and more river cruises than any other travel agency in the world, and its five weekly travel newsletters are emailed to more than 17 million subscribers worldwide. It has 700 employees serving customers from more than 50 countries. In 2012, about 750,000 people purchased international vacations from Vacations To Go.

Fox’s wife of 29 years, Karen, runs the company’s publishing unit, overseeing development of three magazines and several travel- and retirement-related book titles. Their son, Christopher, is a 2012 graduate of Wake Forest and works in the marketing department.

Despite his busy schedule, Fox remains engaged with his alma mater, serving on the Deacon Club’s board of directors and being recently named to the athletic department’s campaign executive committee.

Fox took time recently to talk about his business and his Winston-Salem roots. An edited version follows.

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