Canton’s original travel company is still making dreams come true after 114 years; exceptional staff and service keep customers coming back for more.
There's much more to being a successful travel planner than simply booking a few flights, hotel rooms and tours.
Travel planning is a very customer-centric business.
The travel planning professionals at Palmer Vacations & Destination Planners know this firsthand. They listen closely and do everything in their power to deliver trips that perfectly fit their customers’ needs and lifestyles.
“Travel companies used to simply be ticket agents,” said President Lisa Palmer Shall. “Now, we’re advisors. We see our customers through their journeys from beginning to end, making sure all their needs are met.”
Palmer Vacations was originally founded in 1905 as Jacob Travel by William Jacob. The company’s primary business was selling tickets for steamship travel from Europe to Ellis Island, N.Y., and rail travel from New York to Canton.
Former Eastern Airlines employee Floyd Breit joined the company in 1969, and operated the business as Breit Travel until early 1980, when he sold the business to Donna Palmer.
Palmer Vacations continues to thrive today from its location at 5366 Fulton Drive NW in Canton.
“I was looking to start my own business,” said Donna, who is Lisa’s mother. “Two things interested me — a travel agency and an interior design firm. I got into the travel business and we were able to develop quite a following.”
Lisa was working at another travel company at the time, but Donna was able to convince her daughter to join her. In 1981, Mustafa Saraclar came aboard.
That team of three proceeded to tackle Stark County’s travel needs for the next four decades.
Palmer’s staff of seven has 182 years of combined travel experience and goes through rigorous training regularly as the travel business is always changing.
The Palmer team specializes in international travel, vacation packages, cruises, family getaways and corporate travel, planning trips for thousands of individuals, groups and corporate customers each year.
“We take the travel business very seriously,” said Mustafa. “People are looking for an experience they can talk to their family and friends about when they return. We work hard to create those experiences.”
Palmer Vacations is a Registered Ohio Travel Agent and a member of the International Air Transport Association, and is a member of the American Society of Travel Advisors, the Ensemble Travel Group and the Airlines Reporting
“Our affiliations with these groups demonstrates our commitment to professional conduct and ethics,” said Lisa.
“Whether you’re an established customer or a first-time customer, you
can count on our dedicated service.”
Palmer Vacations, also a member of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau, earned The Canton Repository’s “Readers’ Choice” award for best travel agency three out of the past four years — in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Today’s travel trends include international travel, luxury travel and multi-generational travel. And the trend is for customers to rely more on travel advisors to coordinate their trips.
An area of Palmer’s business that is thriving is its Upscale Excursions and Discovery Tours. This program is designed and managed by Mustafa and Pat Schrader, formerly of Aultman Hospital and “PrimeTime Seniors” program.
Upscale Excursions offers quality group travel made simple. From musicals to fall sightseeing tours to international journeys to mystery trips, Upscale Excursions offers fun and educational experiences for customers.
Palmer also recently began advertising for an exciting venture in October 2020 on Celebrity Cruise Lines’ newest ship, the Apex — a journey to Spain, France and the Italian Riviera.
Lisa said there’s been a dip in the number of competing local travel companies in Canton since 1980, but especially after 9/11. Today, many people attempt to do their own travel planning online.
“We’ve heard about some real disasters from people who’ve attempted to plan their own vacations,” said Lisa. “We often help people find solutions to these types of travel challenges.”
Mustafa said working through Palmer Vacations has its advantages.
“Where you sleep matters to us,” he said. “How you see the world matters to us. These things don’t necessarily matter to everyone.”
Palmer Vacations also helps the community through its service and donations to various organizations and charities, including Wishes Can Happen, Rotary International, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and more.
In 2020, the company will mark its 40th year of Palmer family ownership
and operation. The company’s business philosophy has not changed much
“It’s a simple equation,” said Mustafa. “Exceptional staff plus exceptional service equals Palmer Vacations.”
With that winning equation firmly in place, Palmer Vacations & Destination Planners will continue to deliver trips worth talking about for the residents of Stark County.