The Past, Present, and Future of the Nation’s First Black-Owned Travel Agency, Henderson Travel Service


Recognized in 1955, the origin story of Henderson Travel Service—both the 1st Black-owned comprehensive-provider vacation agency in the U.S. and a pioneer of Black American travel to Africa—is rooted in the willpower and resilience of a single woman: Freddye Henderson. She was intent on displaying her fellow Black People in america what the world experienced to provide them, in spite of the quite a few social ills—rampant racism and sexism, in particular—that sought to continue to keep them out. Additional than 60 many years right after the agency’s landmark first trip to Ghana, held just before professional flights to Africa had been even obtainable from the U.S., HTS is still heading strong—and it is her daughter, Gaynelle, who has retained it at the vanguard.

Gaynelle was only eight yrs old when her mother founded HTS in Atlanta, but it didn’t take lengthy just before she began pulling her body weight in the family members enterprise. Henderson vividly remembers her preteen years, when she and her more mature siblings would expend weekends in the business office, filling out airline tickets by hand, whilst their mom labored on vacation planning and their father dealt with the accounting. At 16, Gaynelle commenced guiding group tours on her have and ongoing executing so throughout her school many years. It was a part she beloved, but immediately after graduation, Henderson made a decision to forge her individual route.

Gaynelle Henderson’s mom and dad, Freddye and Jacob, pose in front of Henderson Travel Service’s Atlanta headquarters in the early 1960s.

Gaynelle Henderson

“I keep in mind consciously not wanting to be in the enterprise,” she claims. “For the longest time, I just desired to do my own detail and wasn’t significantly intrigued in returning home.”

When Henderson’s profession took her to Washington, D.C., having said that, she recognized the internationally varied town was the fantastic market place for an extension of HTS. She took revenue from her very own discounts, rented out a just one-room business office, and in 1984, Henderson Vacation Company of Washington, D.C., was born, working alongside the Atlanta flagship.

Her timing, as it turned out, was perfect. In 1989, Henderson’s then-elderly moms and dads ended up completely ready to shut down their Atlanta operations, leaving Henderson to acquire above their consumers and go on the HTS brand name. Leaning on her prior encounter in administration consulting, Henderson took the company a stage further than her mother and father by growing its offerings to include vacation contracts for the U.S. authorities. For 20 yrs, Henderson managed two HTS divisions servicing federal government contracts, which brought in numerous million bucks on its individual, as perfectly as leisure vacationers.

“That diversification contributed considerably to the longevity of HTS,” Henderson claims. “There was no way we could have survived as a tiny travel agency via the close of commissions from airways, the internet, people today acquiring their own tickets, and eventually even currently being equipped to e-book their very own tours on the web. It would’ve been tricky for us to endure at the stage that we did.”

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