What: An Internet-based
Who: Richard Bondurant of Tahitian Travel Planners
When: Started in 1999
How much: $3,800
When Richard Bondurant saw a breathtaking picture of Moorea, French Poly-nesia, on the cover of a magazine in 1997, he knew he had to go. After traveling to French Polynesia many times, Bondurant, as a hobby, launched a Web site for those planning to visit the islands. But when requests flooded in from people asking him to help organize their travel plans, he left his Internet and business development job at MCI.
Working out of his home as a sole proprietor, Bondurant subcontracted extra work and designed his own Web site (www.gotahiti.com), eliminating costly fees. With no advertising or marketing, Bondurant gained clients through his policy of "efficiency, service and knowledge of the destination."
Offering pre-designed itineraries and customized packages, Tahitian Travel Planners has a loyal following: About 40 percent of its bookings are repeat clients. Currently, Bondurant projects 2003 sales of $3 million. Now, with five employees, Bondurant's commitment to service and knowledge has him and his staff visiting French Polynesia often to keep tabs on hotels, restaurants and activities and maintaining relationships that let his business offer the best vacation packages.
While Bondurant remains lean operationally, he's rich in
experience: "I was looking for a stronger quality of life, and
I've achieved that. I can't imagine being more