Travel Agent Spotlight: A Different Kind of Vacation for The Griswolds
Steve Griswold is co-owner of Pixie Vacations with his wife, Lisa. Here he tells us how he got started in the industry and how he reconciles his vacation-centric business with his very recognizable last name.
TravelPulse: Why did you become a travel agent?
Steve Griswold: My wife, Lisa, and I both loved working at Walt Disney World. We moved to Atlanta, Georgia and really wanted to share our love for Disney and travel with others. When we had our second daughter, Brooke, Lisa was looking for something she could do from home that might allow us to save enough money for a cruise every few years and that’s how Pixie Vacations started.
Now almost six years later we are an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and the business has really grown. We have a group of over 60 fantastic agents all over the United States that help guest book all sorts of vacations.
TP: Did your last name have anything to do with your love of travel?
SG: With the last name “Griswold,” I would always hear jokes around Christmas time when everyone would see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on TV, but I loved all of the Vacation movies, and it was always in good fun when people would comment about “The Griswolds.”
About three years ago, I thought about replacing my old Honda Accord, but somehow that idea morphed into buying a 1984 Ford LTD country squire wagon. So $3,000 later I’m driving home in my new purchase with my kids hiding under a towel to keep the rotting headliner dust from getting in their eyes. Six months later, we had built a replica of the Truckster from the original Vacation movie even with the wayback seats.
Two summers ago, we drove the Truckster across America from Atlanta, Georgia, to the fictitious Walley World (Six Flags Magic Mountain) in California. We spent the night in a Wigwam in Arizona, saw the Grand Canyon, entered the 72oz steak eating challenge at the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas, and rode Colossus, the wooden roller coaster in the Vacation movie before the planned closing of the coaster.
We did not know it at the time, but the directors at Warner Brothers were following our road trip on social media. When we returned from California we ended up having lunch with the directors for the new Vacation movie and they used Truckster for the movie. We are also extras in the Walley World scenes and Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Christina Applegate, and Ed Helms all signed the glove box.
TP: Why your own travel business?
We have never shied away from taking things into our own hands. It just seemed natural for us to take this on, too. It's not to say we didn't stumble here and there, but we knew what we wanted to do, and we did it. We had a very specific business model in mind, and that's difficult to pursue when you are working for someone else.
TP: Why just Disney vacations?
SG: We started Pixie Vacations because we love Disney, and that grew into a business. It works out well, because we love to talk about anything Disney. We also really wanted to be experts in a niche and not try to offer all travel destinations to everyone. With our Disney focus, our clients receive a personalized level of service; we find the best vacation for their needs, wants, and budget. We help them plan their itinerary, and offer Fastpass+ and dining assistance.
Now that we are going on our sixth year, our clients want new vacation experiences. Maybe their kids are older now and they want to spend some time at Universal Studios Orlando and see the amazing Harry Potter attractions or maybe the family wants to take a cruise to a port that Disney Cruise Line does not visit. We are also getting requests for All Inclusive Resorts, especially Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean. We have experts in these destinations and resorts now too.
READ MORE: "National Lampoon's Vacation" on Location
TP: What has been your favorite client moment?
SG: That would be when the client calls or texts you while on their vacation to thank you for making it so enjoyable, and how they couldn't have done it without you.
TP: Where do YOU go on vacation?
SG: The idea of starting Pixie Vacations was to have extra money with which to vacation. I had dreams of traveling with my shiny new IATA card and saving money on all sorts of vacations. I think that’s what every travel agent dreams of. As the business grew, I found myself with less time to actually take a family vacation. We do travel, but it’s to conferences, press events, or to learn about a new destination. It’s wonderful and we learn so much from it. We did actually plan a once in a lifetime family trip last summer to Norway. We booked a Disney Cruise with our two daughters and went out of Copenhagen to see Norway. It was the perfect way to see a new country with two young girls and still have the comfort and familiarity of the ship. You really get to see some places in the Fjords by ship that are very remote and have stunning views.
For more Travel Agent News
More by Lisa Iannucci
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Airlines & Airports
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship