Houston Business Journal,
divers emerging from the sea bearing chilled bottles of champagne
for the employees of a local computer company vacationing
group of Vikings masquerading for Chancellor Media Group execs
in Denmark? And how about a Saskatchewan hunting trip for
beer baron Adolfus Busch and six companions?
with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, Gregory Patrick is
their fairy godfather.
founding Houston-based Tour of Enchantment, Patrick has made
his mark on the travel industry by creating unique, one of
a kind fantasy trips for the well-heeled clientele that can
excursions often involve putting up clients in the residences
of the rich and famous and delivering every imaginable perk,
regardless of location.
that hunting trip for the head of Busch Breweries, Patrick
says because no luxury accommodations were available nearby,
he found two suitable neighboring houses and offered the residents
an all expense paid trip to Vancouver to temporarily vacate.
part of the fence for easy access between each home, flew
in a butler, chef and masseuse and stocked the entertainment
center with Charlie Pride CDs a favorite of one of Busch’s
an experience designer,” says Patrick “Those two words explain
what I do better than anything.”
unless you’re a corporate executive or have the kind of money
where politicians are calling you pal, don’t expect Patrick
to materialize after a hard day on the cube farm. Prices for
his trips can sometimes hover in the $100,000 range.
if you happen to be a top performing salesperson or employee
of a company that knows what a good incentive program can
do for the bottom line, the experiences still may be within
many of Patrick’s clients are corporate executives entertaining
clients, more and more of his business is leaning towards
company incentive programs that start at about $1,300 a head
and go up from there.
IKON, Entex and Baker Hughes Inc, have all treated select
employees to incentive trips designed by Patrick. Smart companies,
he says, understand that these programs are great motivators
that produce results.
really a drop in the bucket,” he says “If you’ve got someone
selling $1million dollars in products every year, spending
$10,000 on them and a spouse is nothing.”
few would contest employees being rewarded for hard work,
others turn a more skeptical eye to already well-compensated
corporate execs and their clients taking lavish trips.
counters that in today’s business climate, chi chi cocktail
parties and endless rounds of golf are blasé.
days of bidding are over, Business is based on relationships,”
says Patrick. “For the guy protecting a huge income stream
for a company and investors, a vacation is not a lot (to spend)
to build a special relationship.”
Corp vice president Jim Ducote has used Patrick’s company
for the last seven years, recently traveling to the French
West Indies to stay in a rock star’s villa with the heads
of two other Houston energy companies.
Media Group and their local radio station, KLOL, have also
used Patrick to design trips several years running to treat
their top advertisers, as has Coastal Corp.
year-old high school drop out, Patrick’s travel career began
when he started a bus coach company that featured tuxedoed
waiters pouring cocktails for tourists on jaunts to Padre
Island. The idea for Tours of Enchantment was formed after
hearing about a San Antonio rancher who couldn’t make his
mortgage bill and started advertising in British travel guides
for Brits to have the dude ranch experience.
upon reading about some wealthy English landowners with one
too many tax problems, Patrick thought about reversing the
idea and have Texas pretend they were to the manor born for
Patrick has had clients stay in Randy Travis’ Hawaiian beach
house, Francis Ford Coppola’s Belize bungalow, Mick Jagger’s
Mustique island home and Jane Seymour’s English estate.
gains access to the homes by first doing a little detective
work and finding out if the owner of the home needs money
or is charity driven. If that’s the case, he’ll either offer
a flat fee or donate a sum to their favorite charity for the
use of the house.
he’ll barter, giving them plane tickets and use of another
home he has access to.
different about his tour business, explains Patrick, is that
each trip is different and custom designed.
approached by a client Patrick says he conducts an intensive
interview about what a person’s interests are, then gets to
often don’t know what they want. They pay me to create the
experience,” he says.
the biggest coups was renting out Princess Diana’s girlhood
home in England Althorp Estate for a group of eight Dallas
couples who travel together each year and take turns trying
to outdo the prior year’s trip.
a three ring binder stuffed with correspondence, Patrick says
that took months to pull off and cost $250,000 a couple.
is lifestyles of the rich and famous, but its what people
come back to me for. They can’t do this for themselves and
they can’t call their travel agent and have them do it. There’s
tremendous repeat business in doing the impossible.”
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