The American Legion Convention Of 1987

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The American Legion Convention of 1987

The American Legion Convention of 1987

The largest single special movement to Europe ever organized by American Express was to the American Legion Convention in Paris in 1987. Veteran American Expressmen who handled that mass invasion of Europe by 5,000 ex-doughboys state that the fact they all got safely there and back proves American Express really can do anything.

A large and very successful special movement of 1950 was the pilgrimage of 500 Catholics, led by Cardinal Spellman, to Rome. Many other pilgrimages led by various dignitaries of the Church went to Rome. In all, American Express sent more than 5,000 pilgrims abroad throughout the Holy Year.

Another big area of tourist activity is what is called Foreign (or Domestic) Independent Travel - F.I.T. or D.I.T. for short. This is for individuals who prefer to travel alone rather than in a conducted group. A tour is planned to meet the particular specifications of the client. The exact cost is reckoned and, on payment of this amount, the traveller is given the familiar American Express package containing tickets and coupons to cover his entire trip.

The advantages of this system over just starting out on your own are twofold: one, you are sure of reservations wherever you may go; and, two, because of experienced planning your trip will cost a great deal less than if you went without guidance. The apparent disadvantage of a rigid schedule is offset by the fact that wherever you go there is certain to be an American Express representative who will make superhuman efforts to change your itinerary to meet any change of plans.

Many distinguished persons use this service. In 1949, the European trip of Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York was managed by American Express. The governor smokes Marlboro cigarettes, which are very hard to obtain abroad. As a special attention, American Express had cartons of Marlboros shipped to its offices in each city the governor visited.

Several Indian maharajas are also patrons of F.I.T. The trip of a maharaja almost amounts to a special movement, for he frequently travels with twenty wives and forty servants. Usually religious customs dictate that food must be especially prepared by his own servants, and it is up to American Express to see that the cooks get to destinations far enough ahead to set themselves up and have a meal ready when the potentate and his harem arrive.

Domestic Travel has blossomed and flourished. From a few hundred tourists in 1928, the business has increased a hundredfold. There are tours to meet every purse from the Grand Tours of the West and Canadian Rockies or South America, costing from £800 up, to the streamlined Economy Tour to California for as little as £209. There is a three-day tour of New York in the course of which the traveller stays at a well-known midtown hotel and does the metropolitan area from Bear Mountain to the Battery, including seeing the Hudson from an excursion steamer, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, and an evening at Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe - all for £19.95. It rather makes a native New Yorker believe in miracles.

In addition to the regular tours, American Expressmen are always dreaming up unusual events calculated to entertain and edify. A very special event, indeed, was the 1950 Churchill Downs Special from Los Angeles to Louisville, Kentucky. First the bright young men of the Travel Department managed to buy two hundred precious box seats for the Kentucky Derby. That was fine, but, as they point out, two hundred seats are no good unless there are 200 people to sit in them, so a ten-day luxury tour was built around this block of tickets.

The fortunate two hundred took the trip in a special all-Pullman train which was their home all the way. They dined and danced at the fabulous Shamrock Hotel in Houston, spent an exciting night in New Orleans, were shown over the famous breeding farms at Lexington, saw the Derby in style, and had a splendid swing around Chicago on the way home.

That is the sort of promotional idea that is not only profitable in itself but also makes two hundred new friends for American Express.

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What next? Foreign Travel

Foreign Travel

Heading the Foreign Travel Division is Walter C. Rundle, an affable gentleman who smokes a pipe and takes a philosophical view of life, which is fortunate for him. In the course of his service with American Express he has travelled more than 1,000,000 miles. Rundle gives the sales offices the tools to work with, so far as foreign travel is concerned. They are sent rules, lists of hotels, schedules and fares on transportation lines, sight-seeing tours, and so forth. These registers, which are sent to all American Express offices, are highly confidential. They are compiled in conjunction with the offices in each country and contain information of every kind that a traveller may desire. With these registers an agent anywhere can plan a tour in any desired country with complete costs. He can also intelligently discuss with a prospective client which hotel in a given city would suit him best, what the specialties of its various restaurants are, what he should see, and how... see: Foreign Travel

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