Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

February 25, 2014

Experience a new way to travel

THOMASVILLE — Last Thursday, Thomasville Rotarians welcomed a special speaker to their meeting— a guest who started her own traveling company from the ground up and now is considered to be the best traveling company in the world.

Andrea Grisdale, 44, is a British citizen who began her career in Italy as a tour guide. She worked with Theresa Brown at the time by taking care of clients.

As soon as she set foot in Lake Como, Italy— she knew she had to make it her home. In 1992, Grisdale officially moved to Italy.

She said, “I had no business plan. It was really a matter of people just coming to me asking me for things and help in traveling.”

When Rotarian Joe Brown introduced Grisdale he explained to the members how she learned to work in the Italian system.

He said, “Italy has been called a place where everything is forbidden— but anything is possible. She used her leadership techniques to help her grow her business.”

Grisdale explained how laws in Italy are sometimes gray and not black and white as they should be. She has used the different ways people interpret laws in Italy to her advantage of building her traveling company.

“For every solution there is a problem. There’s always a way. We are getting ready to launch a boutique property in a historical palace built in the 1700s in Lake Como and faced some challenges in how we would be able to run it— but with the gray areas of the law, we are making it happen,” said Grisdale.

Grisdale’s traveling company, best known as a destination specialist, is called “IC Bellagio,” which means Italian Connection. She and her staff make their clients’ traveling experience specific. They seek to create a personalized experience in Italy.

She said, “We work at a high level with the clients who want a 4 and 5 star deluxe vacation. To translate it best: If you are cheap— don’t call us.”

The traveling packages are designed based on the clients interests. The company views vacation time as a limited part of people’s lives— so they want to make sure people are getting an appropriate vacation.

Grisdale and her staff make it possible for people to have luxury travel in Italy and she encourages her staff to never stop seeking more information for the company even though they have many awards and recognition.

“I tell the staff even though we have awards that we cannot stop. We need to always look for new opportunities to remain successful,” said Grisdale.

Other ways she uses to help make the company successful is by listening to her International Advisory Board, which Joe and Theresa Brown serve on.

She commonly asks students to participate in the meetings so they have a different perspective.

“Twenty-year-olds are going to have a different perspective than people in the meetings who are generally over 40. We listen to what they have to say and we are always thinking “outside of the box.” We need ways to increase the value of our company and give people a “non-googleable” travel experience,” said Grisdale.

The company stopped using the phrase “exclusive”  in their promotions because they have found people are searching for local experiences when they travel to Italy.

People in Thomasville can vouch for this company with their traveling experiences to Italy. Dr. Gary Bonvillian, President of Thomas University has been a client for “IC Bellagio.”

He said, “I spent 16 wonderful days in Italy thanks to this company.”

For more information on “IC Bellagio” visit, www.icbellagio.com.

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