Aniseh Dalju, long a presence in the tour and travel industry in southern California—she spent more than a decade along at Anaheim-based Destination America, lastly as vice president, business development and contracting, before leaving the firm last month—has launched her own receptive tour operator company: Onward, which will focus on providing upscale product.
We at the Inbound Report were as surprised as anyone at the news of her departure, so we contacted Dalju and had a brief Q&A to talk about what prompted her move and where she intends to take her company. Following is an excerpt from our conversation.
Inbound: As a highly regarded industry professional, why would you leave a strong company such as Destination America to start something new?
Dalju: I had an opportunity to take all of my experience and network and start my own company with an industry friend, the owner of Lux Bus America. I left a great team at DA but this is something I’ve often contemplated and wanted to do.
Inbound: Given the difficult environment for RTOs this year, why would you open a receptive operator company?
Dalju: There’s always room for someone who can provide service with reliable expertise at great value. And there’s always a market for performance, sports, groups, and companies that need to produce corporate retreats and incentives.
Inbound: What do you plan to do that is different?
Dalju: There’s room for more innovation and resourcefulness in our industry. Some of the larger companies are not able to be as agile as a start-up. Plus, my partner is the owner of Lux Bus America who owns luxury buses that will allow us to offer guaranteed departures. We’re going to be offering sports programs as well as performance product. Diversification is key to success in group travel services.
For those interested in meeting up with Dalju, she and her team will be at NTA’s Travel Exchange next week (Jan. 31-Feb. 4) in Atlanta. You can also contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 310-926-9219.
NOTE: Aniseh Dalju will also be a panelist on Digital Day, the first day of NAJ’s RTO Summit West (Feb.17-18 at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey, California) in a program entitled How do Traditional Tour Operators feel about Being Wooed through Social Media?”