J&L Travel Celebrates 30 Years
Joanne Letcher started in the travel business coordinating ski trips to Europe, prompting her to open her own travel agency in Carnegie 30 years ago.
Her first location was on Third Avenue, but now operates out of Suite 205 at 150 E. Main Street in the Masonic Building. Over the years her agency has gone from handling predominantly corporate travel to now specializing in leisure travel. She organizes trips to Europe and the Caribbean, along with cruises, tours and generational travel, but can handle most arrangements to anywhere in the world.
“The Internet, of course, has eliminated a lot of storefront and ‘mom and pop’ agencies,” said Letcher. “But now travel agencies are making a comeback, especially those that can offer personal attention, unlike the Internet. Travel has become more about having an in-depth experience, spending time with locals, learning about the area, and giving back by volunteering.”
Her experienced staff includes several independent contractors who have been with her for years, including Elaine Rossi who specializes in the Caribbean, and Gretchen Beck who concentrates on visits to Europe.
Letcher has several places in the world that she loves to visit. She recalls that New Zealand had wonderful people and many types of adventures. She taught school in Cambodia and helped take care of elephants during one memorable trip.
“A volunteer vacation is becoming bigger than ever, giving back while one travels,” she pointed out.
Generational and family travel has also become very popular. Travel packages are being offered specifically for families with children that include fun and educational trips, besides the usual visits to Disney and Universal Studios.
A member of the Carnegie-Collier Rotary Club, Letcher also serves as the executive director of the Carnegie Community Development Corporation.
“I love what I do,” said Letcher. “My clients have access to me 24/7 while traveling as I want to make sure that everything is going smoothly and they are enjoying their experience. Travel is never perfect; there is always something that can happen but that is usually what makes for good stories when you return.”
To discuss a vacation destination, call 412-276-6711 or visit www.jltravel.com.
Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. You can reach Charlotte at 724-693-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.