R Family Vacations, the LGBTQ-focused tour operator run by luxury consultants Kelli Carpenter and Gregg Kaminsky, has rebranded as KelliGregg Travel.
The rebranding comes as the company evolves, heading into its 20th year in business in 2023.
“For the last five or six years, we’ve definitely gone in a lot of directions, one is offering multiple adult-only rides and adding new types of rides like land tours,” said Kaminsky, who splits his time between New York and Colorado.
KelliGregg Travel logo. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kelli Carpenter
Additionally, for the past six or seven years, both Kaminsky and Carpenter have been travel consultants with the 100 Group in Chicago, selling a lot of individual travel.
“We just felt like we needed a name that better told our story, that we weren’t just focusing on the family aspect of travel,” Kaminsky said.
The brand has grown with himself and Kaminsky, Carpenter said. It started with one big trip, but over 20 years, the families grew and changed.
“The product evolved over time and we felt like just calling it R Family didn’t encompass all the pieces of what we do,” said Carpenter, who is based in New Jersey.
The award-winning startup of R Family Vacations
It all started with an LGBTQ family-friendly cruise in 2004 aboard the Norwegian Dawn. It attracted more than 2000 passengers. Indeed, HBO tagged on that first trip to film a documentary, “All Aboard!”, which was nominated for an Emmy.
Kelli Carpenter and Gregg Kaminsky, founders of R Family Vacations, now rebranded as KelliGregg Travel. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kelli Carpenter
“It was a much newer concept at the time,” Carpenter said. “It was a unique story… What’s amazing when you watch the documentary is to see each family tell their story and how no one’s story is the same as how their families were created. And that’s kind of magic .”
But that voyage was not without hiccups. When the carriers called in the Bahamas, the churches had sent hundreds of protestors to meet him.
Kaminsky said they knew in advance, and he even flew down and spent a “great” afternoon with the churches. After that he thought they wouldn’t protest, but they did.
That happened only one other time over the years, Kaminsky said, and the R Family decided to change its itinerary to more welcoming destinations.
“I think there’s a misconception that gay cruises are promoting something, and we’re not,” he said. “We’re doing the opposite. We’re actually just giving people in our community a place to travel with like-minded people.”
Thankfully, most attitudes have changed. Most destinations, he added, recognize the value of LGBTQ travelers, who spend more per capita than most other segments.
“When we started, we weren’t just offering vacations to LGBTQ families, we were actually a resource for them,” Kaminsky said. “A lot of times people would come on our trips to learn how to adopt, or we’d have speakers on surrogacy. Now, I think in the last 20 years, it’s a very different world out there.”
Next year, KelliGregg Travel will host its 20th anniversary cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. The company will also continue its partnership with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, from which KelliGregg will take a cruise to Bordeaux in May, among other groups the company has planned. Land tours are also planned.
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