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RA Travel, Born in 1975

Jamaican born Rose Aiello emigrated from London to Harlem in the early 1970's. Upon her arrival, Rose noted a very different type of living in Harlem compared to her life in London's Park Lane. Rose believed that if she could teach people how to travel their lives would expand. "I wished I could show them to travel the world," recalls Rose.

Rose became employed on commission only, by a travel agency near her Harlem residence. Determined to succeed, Rose knocked on doors, seeking clients and initially began handling travel for church groups traveling by bus before expanding to selling tickets to those traveling by air. During this time, she welcomed her first child, Dominick. Just as she began to acquire clients, the Harlem based agency that she worked for failed with the owner losing his IATA. Rose, unwavering learned how to buy airline tickets from wholesalers.

In 1975, Rose opened her own agency "RA Travel" renting an office in the same space as it stands today, on 14th Street in Manhattan.

Through significant dedication of her time and energy and with the addition of her second child, Jane, Rose's business began to grow exponentially attracting clients from all over the world including those in India, Pakistan and Japan.

Jane recalls, as a small child, playing under her mother's desk at the agency. "When we were of age, we learned to answer the phone professionally." As the two children became young adults, Rose recalls really needing the help. "We learned the business," says Jane.

Today Dominick Aiello and Jane Aiello operate RA Travel. "They are a Godsend," reports their grateful mother. Rose beams with delight when she speaks of the duo.

"We are continually growing everyday. We've managed to survive and thrive though many adversities, including September 11th, a time when no one wanted to travel," reports Dominick. "We don't just sell travel, we sell a lifestyle, an experience."

The agency's largely corporate travel roots have expanded to include expertise in entertainment, fashion and art. "This is what our friends are doing," reports Jane, "so the business has grown very organically." Celebrity clientele, sports personalities, models and artists account for a significant portion of RA's operations today.

Jane notes that their relationship with each client is more involved, more intimate than the typical travel agent/client relationship. RA does not operate within the confines of a traditional travel agency; rather they're regularly acting as a concierge service for their clients. "We are an extension of the client," Jane summarizes. "When they're on tour, we're on tour."

"The future of the travel industry as we see it is a bright one, filled with advancements in technology, while still maintaining a personal touch and one on one contact with our clients," says Dominick.

Applying RA's niche in sending Americans on Safaris in Africa and in bringing African's to the United States, Rose hopes to expand operations to include an office within the hustle and bustle of South Africa's Johannesburg. She envisions teaching underprivileged children the intricacy of travel and hospitality. "Poor people there don't know where to turn," Rose intends to give back by fulfilling a gap. "Rose has the intuition and she knows how to execute," says Jane confidently. "She is a visionary." Jane is very optimistic about the expansion saying it is sure to continue the legacy of her mother's vision.

We asked Rose what about the business she enjoys the most and she said "Everything!" Thinking back on it, says Rose, "Planting one small seed and watching it grow to what it is today has been a gift."