Balaclava International Travel – Chaskiel Family
“I’m still trying to process why in 1976 my family decided to open a shop in suburban Melbourne, start travel agency there and call it Balaclava International Travel.
Maybe they knew something I didn’t know about my own destiny.
1977 saw me enter the fray. So, 41 years on what’s changed?
Let’s start with me… Older? Definitely! Wiser? Maybe! Better travelled? Definitely!
Perceived Icons in the travel industry have disappeared, Pan Am, Ansett, TWA, Traveland, Jetset, our big 4 banks each had travel arms and who could forget Womens Weekly World discovery tours.
What about the business? Well it’s no longer Balaclava International Travel, that was 23 years ago and this leads me to my favourite travel story.”
Freeway Travel – Willie Best
“Why did I register that name early in 1981 and why did I decide to leave the building industry?
My wife was working for Ansett Airlines in their accounts area and I suggested that it would make sense to complete a travel course. I thought it would help her with her job prospects at the time. She hated the course, so I decided that I might enjoy the travel industry. On completion of the course, I found that I could sell travel to my friends via a licenced local agency. I did this after work and really enjoyed the challenge. I then suggested I might like to buy in to the business, but they wanted a lot of money. This prompted me to start my own business and resign from my building job. Before I resigned, I decided I need to set up a business/trading name. I was working in the city and went to Consumer Affairs Victoria one lunchtime to register my chosen name for the new business. Unfortunately, all the chosen names were already registered with the appropriate authorities, but I didn’t know that at the time. Freeway Travel was the only name I could think of in that short period of time, whilst on my lunch break.
I started with one employee and then about one year after starting, Freeway Travel merged with Elwood Travel, and we traded in a small shop on St Kilda Rd, St Kilda.
I then employed an acquaintance who worked at the New Zealand Tourism office and this consultant is still with us today. The business grew, so my business partner and I purchased a new strata title office 200 metres from my original office.
I knew Mark from school and from the Travel Industry. Mark and I would often meet at travel functions and I just mentioned that I was considering all my options regarding a possible merger. My previous partner was 15 years my senior and he said that he would retire at 60 and I knew that I could not run Freeway Travel by myself. Mark and I had very similar businesses, with very similar clients. So, what started off as a bit of a joke ended up as a merger of two very successful businesses in July 1993.”
The merger of two successful businesses
As you know we are now FBI Travel, and the question we get asked more than any other question is why the name? We were two agencies, Freeway Travel and Balaclava International Travel. When we joined forces, we tried calling ourselves Freeway Balaclava International. Of course, this is a mouthful, so over meeting with our accountant we mentioned we were frustrated with our name. He suggested that we call ourselves FBI Travel. He said “No one will ever forget your name.”
This is the beginning of the next chapter.
25 years on FBI travel is a formidable integrated travel business. Our name has become a brand and we are known globally. We compete successfully in the areas of leisure, corporate and group travel. With a team of over 40 dedicated travel professionals we are considered within the industry as a benchmark agency and Travel Management Company.
Forty years later and with a future so bright, we will continue to be leaders, trendsetters and winners.