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

Set up in 1955, the origin story of Henderson Journey Service—both the very first Black-owned entire-support vacation company in the U.S. and a pioneer of Black American vacation to Africa—is rooted in the determination and resilience of just one girl: Freddye Henderson. She was intent on exhibiting her fellow Black Americans what the globe experienced to provide them, in spite of the quite a few social ills—rampant racism and sexism, in particular—that sought to retain them out. Additional than 60 yrs soon after the agency’s landmark very first vacation to Ghana, held right before commercial flights to Africa had been even readily available from the U.S., HTS is continue to heading strong—and it’s her daughter, Gaynelle, who has saved it at the vanguard.

Gaynelle was only eight a long time aged when her mother launched HTS in Atlanta, but it did not acquire very long right before she begun pulling her body weight in the spouse and children business. Henderson vividly remembers her preteen decades, when she and her more mature siblings would devote weekends in the office environment, filling out airline tickets by hand, whilst their mom labored on trip organizing and their father dealt with the accounting. At 16, Gaynelle begun guiding team tours on her possess and continued accomplishing so all over her school years. It was a role she loved, but immediately after graduation, Henderson made a decision to forge her have path.

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

Gaynelle Henderson

“I remember consciously not wanting to be in the business,” she suggests. “For the longest time, I just needed to do my own detail and was not especially fascinated in returning household.”

When Henderson’s career took her to Washington, D.C., nevertheless, she understood the internationally numerous city was the best sector for an extension of HTS. She took funds from her have personal savings, rented out a 1-home workplace, and in 1984, Henderson Travel Provider of Washington, D.C., was born, jogging along with the Atlanta flagship.

Her timing, as it turned out, was great. In 1989, Henderson’s then-elderly mother and father ended up ready to shut down their Atlanta functions, leaving Henderson to consider over their purchasers and carry on the HTS brand name. Leaning on her prior encounter in administration consulting, Henderson took the business a stage further than her mom and dad by expanding its offerings to include vacation contracts for the U.S. governing administration. For 20 decades, Henderson managed two HTS divisions servicing federal government contracts, which brought in a number of million pounds on its personal, as effectively as leisure vacationers.

“That diversification contributed substantially to the longevity of HTS,” Henderson suggests. “There was no way we could have survived as a little journey agency as a result of the close of commissions from airlines, the web, people purchasing their possess tickets, and ultimately even becoming equipped to guide their own excursions on the internet. It would’ve been tricky for us to survive at the degree that we did.”

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