By David Bjorkgren, senior editor
Special to the Hellenic News of America
Eleni Poulos started her travel agency in an unusual place—her son’s bedroom.
Nearly 30 years later she has 5,000 customers nationwide and an active slate of travel options.
“It’s so great,” she says, when looking back.
Eleni’s Tours in Broomall, PA began with her own joy of traveling. She wanted to offer the same experiences to others.
The agency runs the gambit, from individual trips, to group tours with 40 or 50 people, to school groups. There are wine tours in Europe, trips to the Caribbean, Disney World, Las Vegas, cruises. The list goes on.
Eleni’s Greek background guarantees special packages to the Greek islands.
“I visit so many countries all over the world and there’s no place like Greece. The people are friendly. It’s a warm country.”
Her family is from Nafpaktos. Her parents were Greek immigrants in the restaurant business.
Her agency was born when Eleni found herself at home with her two children, Gina, now 27; and Tommy, now 29.
The high-energy entrepreneur had already been doing sales work for another travel agency bringing clients to them so she figured she could go in business for herself.
Eleni passed out business cards and hung up flyers at churches. Through word of mouth, her list of satisfied customers started to grow and so did her client base.
Eleni is no stranger to marketing. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from LaSalle University in Philadelphia.
“I love to sell things. I’ve sold things all my life.”
In high school, she sold for Avon, Mary Kay and Tupperware.
“When I was in college my professor said I’d never make it in an office. I thought he was crazy.”
He was right. She tried working for an insurance company but that only lasted two or three months.
“My boss would give me things to do for the week and I would finish everything in like a day and a half. I said, ‘I’m done, I’m Greek.”
She credits her agency’s success to the personal touch she offers customers. “I ask where they’re from, where they’ve traveled things like that.”
She also credits wholesalers who helped her along the way. “They’re the ones who stuck with me through the 30 years and led me through all the baby steps.”
As a woman owner of a travel agency, it was hard being accepted at first, but she found many others who were trying to support her.
The internet has reinvented travel. From bookings to research, now it’s all done electronically.
“It’s easier now,” she says.
Eleni remains tied to her Greek roots. She is married to Aristides, a certified Greek translator. Her children speak fluent Greek and make it to Greece almost every summer to visit cousins, aunts and in-laws.
In college, she was in the Hellenic University Club of Philadelphia. She’s also a member of Maid of Athena, the Greek Chamber of Commerce, the Nafpaktian Society, and the Macedonian Society.
Visit http://www.eleni.com/ to find out more.