How Italy specialist Perillo Tours is continuing a family tradition: Travel Weekly


Perillo Tours is going where few family-run tour operators have gone before: fourth generation.

After 78 years in operation, the company has stood the test of time, weathering wars, economic recessions, a pandemic and possibly its greatest threat yet: acquisition by a larger corporation.

“Three generations is tough,” said Steve Perillo, CEO and owner of Perillo Tours. “The fourth generation is the hardest thing in business.” He still marvels at the company’s resilience while the number of mom-and-pop tour operators has dwindled over the years.

Perillo is the grandson of Joseph Perillo, who founded Perillo Tours in the 1940’s, and the son of Mario Perillo, the second-generation owner whose television and radio advertisements read “Mr. Italy” which made the company better known in the 1980s and 1990s.

Enter Devin Buonanno, Steve Perillo’s 26-year-old nephew and heir to the Perillo Tours business, best known for specializing in bespoke trips to Italy, but also offering Spain and Hawaii.

Buonanno currently serves as Perillo Tours’ Regional Director for Hawaii, overseeing product development for the destination.

Buonanno said he started Perillo Tours when he was a child because he traveled to Italy with his mother and siblings every year.

“I just got addicted to travel,” Buonanno recalls. “I’m also a big sports fan. I like to travel across the country to see my sports teams in different cities.”

But spending time with his family was Buonanno’s biggest motivator in joining the family business.

“I just love the whole family aspect with my uncle and my grandfather and my great grandfather. I’m a big family man,” said Buonanno.

Business is now going well for Perillo, but the past two years have been the toughest the company has faced since the company opened in 1945.

Closed international borders brought business to a standstill in Italy and Spain; Hawaii bookings performed comparatively well; However, these sales were not enough to offset the huge losses in Europe.

But government-issued Covid relief funds kept the lights on Perillo tours. Now, after those hard-hitting pandemic years, it’s poised to turn a profit in 2022.

The tour operator has had fewer staff, is benefiting from tax breaks for small businesses and is seeing bookings pick up again, although they are still operating at 50% of their pre-pandemic levels.

The company – which continued its TV advertising even before the pandemic, with Steve taking the place of his father, who died in 2003 – has also been forced to cut its marketing budget and is no longer spending money on advertising. Perillo can probably live with this decision. After all, who needs publicity when their commercials have been immortalized in a Saturday Night Live sketch, in which Adam Sandler embodies the role of “Joe Romano” to the last bearded detail?

“It was a very, very big deal,” said Perillo. “Something like this only happens once in a lifetime.”

Perillo Tours will launch its first tours in Greece next year and bookings will be available online this month.

And travel consultants will soon be able to benefit from this as well Perillo Travel Plannera digital library of 25 professionally curated Italy tours that allows travel consultants to customize and create multi-city itineraries and choose from activities, hotels, car rentals, rail and air fares.

“You can edit it into any shape you want,” Perillo said. “We have a team of eight travel agents that we give a 20% commission to overhaul the system and really put it through its paces.” Trip Planner is expected to launch in January.

According to Buonanno, in his current role, Buonanno is working on his passion project: creating independent itineraries in Hawaii. He used to want to expand Perillo Tours’ destination offerings around the world, but says his uncle Steve reminded him of something.

“I’ll never forget it. He said, ‘You have to be true to yourself. We won’t be known as Italy’s #1 tour operator and we’ll lose our niche if you experience all these destinations,'” said Buonanno. “I want to have the same mindset. This is very important to me.”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *