President & CEO, Express Travel
Olga Ramudo’s Coral Gables-based Express Travel has long made the charts as one of the top woman-owned businesses in Florida and one of the fastest growing Hispanic businesses in the US. Ramudo was an independent contractor for a small travel agency when she, her sister and a friend founded the company in 1989. Now with 29 employees, Express has become the largest independent travel agency in the state of Florida. Ramudo has played a key role in promoting the travel industry in South Florida, and currently chairs the International Committee of the Greater Miami Chamber. She serves on numerous boards, including the national board of directors of the American Society of Travel Agents and the board of the World Trade Center Miami. She is serving her third term on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Board that now advises U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Expanding from a personal travel agency in the days before the Internet to a multi-faceted travel advisory, Ramundo is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of her firm, which now handles corporate travel (HBO, Baptist, Mastec, etc.), group meetings and conferences, study abroad programs, and vacation travel.
What She Says
“The travel industry has become a lot more professional,” says Ramudo. “The evolution began years ago. The industry has consolidated into mega worldwide agencies, and the mom and pop agencies no longer exist. If you are not at a certain size, airlines and hotels don’t give you the support or attention…” As for what is trending now, says Ramudo, “River cruises are a top, top interest right now. There’s also educational travel, which is growing, while adventure travel is very much in vogue.” Ramudo attributes her success to full service for clients, be they corporations or individuals. “People come to us for several things, knowledge and expertise, services, and yes, we have some perks that we can pass onto our clients that they couldn’t get directly.”