Forest Travel Agency was originally established in 1968 in Chicago as a family owned and operated company. The original owners then moved the agency to a small location in downtown Miami in 1976.
In 1982, David Mendal joined Forest Travel Agency and began promoting travel to his friends. His initial clients were mostly Latin American students attending colleges and universities in the Boston area. David's fascination with the business grew over the years, and he decided to purchase the agency in 1986. Mr. Mendal now owns 100% of the Company.
David Mendal's extensive marketing and educational background enabled him to grow the business substantially, driving revenues from $250,000 at the time of purchase to estimated revenues in excess of $36 million for 2007 - a compound average growth rate of over 31%. One of Mendal's early insights was to create internal specialists focusing on specific geographic areas and lines of business. By creating Latin American, corporate, and leisure sales teams, with specialized divisions in luxury travel and luxury cruises, Forest Travel became extremely competitive in the local industry. Forest Travel agents continued to develop their expertise in all aspects of travel, each focusing on a specific field such as corporate, leisure, special services, luxury travel, etc.; further contributing to rapid and substantial growth.
Forest Travel became a well-known entity in the downtown Miami area. The agency expanded its business to include not only corporate business, but also Latin American and European visitors, providing the Company with an international presence. Increasing its service offerings, Forest Travel added an airline ticketing facility, cruise and tour counseling, and individual customized travel planning. All of this was done with personalized service, consistently a key element in Forest's approach to travel arrangements.
In order to position itself for further growth, Forest Travel relocated its offices to larger facilities in the area of Aventura, Florida, a rapidly growing suburb of Miami. Aventura, and the general area surrounding it, is home to many high-profile companies, along with numerous high-income residents. With its new location, Forest Travel was able to enhance its corporate business; with the larger space, it was now possible for Forest Travel to expand services to its clients.
These expanded services included airport transfers, theater and special events tickets, visas/passport processing, and frequent-flyer miles redemption desk. The Company also purchased a storefront location on Biscayne Boulevard, one of the most prominent thoroughfares in Dade County. Here they created an attractive location targeting purchasers of leisure travel: the Forest Travel Vacation Center.
At the Vacation Center, vacation and leisure travel is arranged on a very personalized level: one of the unique services offered is a drive-through window for ticket pickup. An expansive video library is available to assist clients in their decision-making process. The Diamond Division was created at this location to handle upscale travelers with specific needs.
As airlines consolidated, the travel industry became more sophisticated in its application of technology, offering electronic distribution and personalized services via phone, fax, and email. Forest Travel has remained on the forefront of this trend. In 2001, Forest Travel decided to consolidate both its Corporate and Leisure divisions, along with its accounting department, in a new customized home office.
Due to a rapidly growing client base, it became necessary in 2001 to move to a larger location with better exposure while remaining in the downtown area. The company purchased a 10,000.(ft)2 location in the Aventura area. Branches of Forest Travel remain in South Miami, downtown, and in the Aventura Mall. With more than 35 full-time agents and over 55 outside sales agents, Forest Travel continues to grow with estimated sales in excess of $43 million for 2009. Today Forest Travel Agency offers a variety of services centralized in various specialized departments.