Bob looks back: What 35 years of BRT means to me

May 18, 2017

Travel Notes

Spending three decades of your life building a business is no small accomplishment – Bob Rogers, our founder should know. He recently marked two milestones – BRT’s 35th anniversary and his own 70th birthday – both giving him much to reflect on and celebrate. The risks, the lean years, the growth and the legacy are all part of his story and it’s one he’s proud to share.

The inspiration

Ten years of working with students as a high school band director gave our founder important insight into two areas that would inspire a life-changing business. He learned firsthand how impactful travel is for students and what music educators need to make travel experiences successful. “As a former director myself, I see travel planning like rehearsing a band – there’s that same attention to detail,” Bob explains.

As he laid the foundation for Bob Rogers Travel, he focused on what he knew educators needed most in the travel planning process – a positive, supportive relationship with their planning partners. That inspiration, the unique understanding of how to partner with educators and form lasting relationships, would serve as the undercurrent for BRT’s work and growth for more than 35 years.

The early years and what came next

Every great venture begins with risk, as Bob would heartily agree. I cashed in my retirement money from teaching, and that was the funding for Bob Rogers Travel, says Bob. “I first worked out of my home, then we took an inexpensive office in Warrenville, IL. The floors creaked and the windows leaked.5 trips planned each month would grow to 10, then 20. Bob’s team of one would expand in that tiny, leaky office space from one to 7.

Today, our team of over 40 plans, laughs and grows together at our beautiful headquarters in Naperville, Illinois, and at our satellite offices throughout the country. “I did not ever conceive that it would grow to this magnitude,Bob says. “The experiment so far has been a success.”

Everything changes – and stays the same

Much has changed about BRT in our 35 years – from the way we do business day to day and the technology we use, to the access we have to destinations across the world. While our company certainly looks different than it did in those early years, Bob would tell you that much of what we do is exactly the same – including what we focus on. “The fundamentals are 100% in place from the day I started the company in November of 1981 – relationships are our number one priority,” says Bob.

“We haven’t forgotten where we started. We’re still focused on the fundamentals and we’re letting the rest of it take care of itself.”

Thoughts on legacy

Five thousand trips and 400,000 students served – and counting. Growth that Bob says he never could have imagined. But he would tell you that BRT is just getting started. “We’re never satisfied with the status quo,” he says. “Our biggest competition is ourselves.”  This year of celebration was as much about looking back as it is about looking forward.

Relationships are the foundation of our business, always have been,” Bob reiterates. “Our clients inspire us to expand our capabilities and find even more ways to bring amazing experiences to directors and their students. We’re just getting started.” 

Learn more about Bob’s successful “experiment” and how his vision still makes travel dreams come true.

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