Interview Tourisme - Loisir - Culture

Calparrio Travel Services

How to innovate and stay ahead after 30 years in the travel industry Jean-François Drageon, Owner of Calparrio Travel Services & Going Going Gone

Could you tell us about Calparrio in a few words?

Calparrio Travel is a Full-Service Travel Agency located in San Francisco, California. Although the agency specializes in European destinations and Club Med Vacations, we also organize International Tours and create Packages. The agency was established 33 years ago, in 1986, in the Bay Area, where I decided to settle after traveling the world. A lot of my clients and travel partners are French, like myself, but we work internationally with English-speaking customers and businesses.


California, Paris and Rio: how do they embody your company’s philosophy and culture?

California, Paris and Rio inspired me the name of the agency: Cal-Par-Rio. I made California my home, Paris has always been my spirit, and Rio will always be in my heart. I traveled the world several times, and those 3 destinations are the ones that I am the most attached to. I need to regularly visit France and Brazil to reconnect with myself.

At Calparrio Travel, we all have traveled a lot, and we all ended up settling in California. We think that cultural diversity brings balance to a community, so we really enjoy working with our clients and partners from all over the world. One part of our job is to bring a lot of families together between France and California, so it brings good vibes in the agency.


What were your biggest news this year?

The year 2019 has been successful for Calparrio Travel.

First, one of our biggest business clients has renewed its trust and assigned us the organization of their annual seminar that will take place in Club Med Cancún. They are expecting over 400 passengers flying in to Cancún from all over the world.

Secondly, we renewed and expanded our contracts with EDF (Electricité De France), one of the most well known electricity suppliers in France. We are in charge of organizing the business trips of their employees working in the California, Chicago, and Houston offices.  We are also in charge of the travel organization for all their expatriate employees.

To finish, we keep working with the French American Schools of San Francisco and the Bay Area. We organize group travel for their students, and self-development travel for all the teachers and management teams.

Our client portfolio keeps developing; we have hired another travel agent earlier this year. We are very happy to see our team of travel agents grow.


Calparrio is still going strong after over 30 years in the business. How do you manage to stay up-to-date and relevant with the latest trends as an international travel agency?

We observe different types of trends. There are the trends in terms of destinations, accommodations, transportations and also regarding travelers themselves. To stay up-to-date with the trendy destinations, we look at all the destinations that got the highest increase in reservations the past year. We also find out about the development of new hotels or tourist attractions in specific areas, or about new airline companies.

New technologies play an important role as well, so we arrange to remain up-to-date on this field too. We have seen how new technologies have transformed the travel industry in the last 10 years with for example, the development of accommodation in private homes.

Also, through our clients’ feedback and myself traveling a lot, I know where to send my clients if they are looking for a trendy destination.

Finally, Calparrio Travel is still strong in business due to the first class service we offer to our clients whatever the cabin they fly in, and that makes the difference. We listen to our clients and they trust us. We want them to feel safe with us and to never be disappointed.


Winter is coming. What do you have in store for San Francisco travelers for a great winter break?

I like sending my clients to a Club Med Resort, so they can share extraordinary vacations with the whole family. Both adults and kids enjoy “Club Med” at the beach or for skiing holiday. For my clients located in the San Francisco Bay Area, I usually recommend the Club Med resorts in Mexico (Cancún or Ixtapa Pacific). It takes about 5 hours to get there (including 1 transit), and there is only 1hour time difference. The stay is all-inclusive and very close to the beach for both destinations. Parents have the possibility to enroll the kids at a daycare within the resorts. The entire family can relax or enjoy a lot of different activities at the resort, and what is better than being with all your family during the Christmas Season?

That’s my definition of a great winter break, but depending on my clients’ needs, I can help them find their own great winter break.


You are a great supporter of the French community here in San Francisco. How do you contribute and why?

I sponsor a lot of events organized by the French-American organizations and businesses every year. For many of them, like the French American Schools, I am in charge of all their tours and travel during the entire school year. During the events organized by the French communities, I sometimes offer plane tickets to Paris, or a week vacation in a North American Club Med Resort. I am affiliated with Club Med, so it seems natural for me to have French-American organizations benefit from it. It’s also very important for me to remain active within the French community personally, but also for my business. Each time, I meet a lot of clients who are also my friends at those events.

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