Imagine touring Tuscan vineyards with friends or celebrating family vacations in an Italian villa. Judy Litner of Travel Express can turn those dreams into reality.
For more than 40 years, Litner has been traveling to Italy to find "the best of the best" for its customers. She knows when the olives are pressed, who owns the best vineyards and where are the best places to buy.
"I love Italy very much," Litner said. "It is the only country I will never get tired of."
In addition to his Italian experience, Litner also made a safari in Kenya and Tanzania, passed the Sydney Opera House and experienced the beauty of South Africa. As often as he travels, Litner said he still gets excited every time he board a plane.
"I've always loved traveling and I wanted to be a flight attendant after my first plane trip," he explained. “In the 1960s, Pan-Am demanded that its hostesses have a nursing degree. I didn't want to be a nurse; so I became a travel agent. "
In 1972, Litner opened a shop at 98 Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck, and Travel Express was born. His colleague Peggy Walsh, with whom Litner worked at another agency, has also remained with the company since its inception. Now, with over 40 years of experience under his belt, Litner explained the differences in the travel agency of the 1970s compared to now.
"Obviously there were no computers, fax machines or cell phones," he said. “Reservations were made by calling each airline and car rental company and writing to hotels that did not have a local representative to contact. We used the Official Air Waybills to find flight information, which was as large as the Manhattan phone book. Oh, and all the air tickets were written by hand. "
Litner explained that his business is based on word of mouth recommendations from honeymoon clients, families, couples and celebrities across the country. The personal touch that Litner has incorporated into his business over the past 47 years is one of the key reasons why he believes his services exceed those of another company.
"We have a lot of experience in issuing air tickets to faraway places and use our knowledge to get the best rates along with the creative ticket options available to us," he said. "I am sure that Expedia or Travelocity cannot plan a luxury experience in Italy the way I can, and I will be there for you throughout your trip. In an era of unprecedented competition, it is a great advantage to be able to say that I know more about Italy than other travel agencies. "
However, there is no reason why an agency cannot continue selling a wide range of luxury products while concentrating on a niche travel audience. Travel Express remains a full-service travel agency by selling luxury cruises, custom itineraries and coordinating tours.
Litner mentioned that if Travel Express issued a ticket, even if there is a snowstorm and travelers were stranded, she can help those customers. His dedication to his clients resulted in his inclusion in the list of the top 25 travel consultants in 2009 by Travel Agent magazine. He also mentioned how the local clientele has boosted his business for almost half a century.
"Great Neck has had a very positive impact on my business," he said. "As Director of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce for 20 years; I have known many local dignitaries and many members of the chamber have been my clients."
For Litner, Great Neck goes beyond an area where your business can thrive. Of all the places he has seen and all the adventures he has taken, Great Neck has provided him with some of life's most important treasures.
“My husband Paul owned Dans Beauty; a very successful cosmetics and beauty products store on Middle Neck Road for many years, ”Litner explained. “Paul and I grew up in Great Neck and graduated from Great Neck North, as well as all our children. Great Neck is important for both of us. "